In this piece, #ClimateTracker Sarabeth Brockley reflects on the UN’s efforts to align the global climate regime with the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

After a marathon session at the UN in New York last week for the 65th Annual United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) Session, the world is now one step closer to a to-do list to end poverty that includes one of its main drivers: climate change.

In the case of the Post-2015 Agenda and the UNFCCC, the chances for their goals to compliment the other could easily dismantle and confuse global negotiations for the issues surrounding climate change, sustainable water, energy, and food scarcity.  Can these two Draft Agreements work together to integrate and not desaturate the necessary components each brings to the table?

imagesThe Post-2015 Agenda is an answer to the Millennium Development Goals…and should guide the UNFCCC roadmap to Paris 2015.

From August 27th to the 29th at the #UNNGO2014 65th DPI NGO conference invited over 920 NGOS to comment on the final version of the Post-2015 Agenda. In 2015, the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris and the launch of the Post-2015 Agenda will culminate within months of each other. This Roundtable discussed the interlinkages between both processes and the benefits as well as the of drawbacks of having two separate tracks in the medium and long terms. Terms like Low-carbon development, adaptation, disaster risk reduction and finance were thrown around.

The Post-2015 process is to create a transformative agenda that is meant to usher us into a new era of sustainable development and in harmony with nature, that is rights based and ensures no-one is left behind.

Cross-synthesis was a theme hammered by the panelists, but the articulation of that word failed to show the audience examples of how the policies could co-exist and not cancel the other out.

Moderating the panel, Lina Dabbagh, Post-2015 Officer, CAN International immediately stated that climate change affects every sector from sustainable water, energy.  This is an important step. Citing Climate Change for the first time after the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) failed to include it as the driver of social poverty, the Final Draft of the Post-2015 Agenda gave Climate Change a number: Goal 13  The panel suggested that its inclusion is the key issue to ensuring sustainability in the future. While there could have been a fierce debate about one developmental agenda against the other, overall the panelists stayed on the fence about the conflicting status of the declarations.

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H.E. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations, kicked off the panel discussion citing how Peru has already accomplished their MDG’s for targeting poverty levels and other targets in his own country.  Stating that the “Issue of inequality is important, we want to address social exclusion and inequalities” he set the tone of the discussion. Peru is the next host country for the final UNFCCC meetings before Paris in 2015.  Velásquez believes that the efforts need to be more aggressive and drafting resolutions that use technology transfers first and financing second will be the successful components of each plan. He emphasized building social capital before financial capital.

No one argued.

It seems that reversing individualistic approaches to resource security by identifying opportunities for integration and identifying existing trade-offs will result in better policy recommendations for both draft agreements.

Velásquez made the link between poverty and climate change.  What are these linkages exactly?

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Dork Sahagian (above), an IPCC Nobel Prize winner and professor of Earth Sciences at Lehigh University suggested we think alongside the fabled words of John F. Kennedy “Ask not what climate change will do to the poorer populations but ask what the economic development will do to 7 billion people. Moving away from fossil fuel development in the Post-2015 Agenda is not a current development goal and is necessary, said Dr. Sahagian;

“Otherwise the sustainability goals are in direct conflict with our Climate Change goals.”

Additionally, Nicholas Nuttall, Creative writer for UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and Director of Communications & Outreach, UNFCCC suggested that much of the development targets and discussion that are central to Sustainable Development Goals in the Post-2015 Agenda and the UNFCCC should be to act as opportunity multipliers.  The division between the private and civil society sector is a huge obstacle. He articulated the issue between the policies well. Consider what the RIO+20 was asking for: a new indicator for process for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that was not just limited to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) valuation. He asked the only worthwhile question in a panel circulating in a maelstrom around the possibilities for collaboration How can the SDG’s support a legally binding process?

Which process will be codified into international law first?

Elenita “Neth” Dano, Asia Director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group) remarked, that we must first raise awareness about the issues we wish to combat, this is key to a more sustainable global development agenda. SDGs should act as enablers. Post-2015 draft agreements should be a development agenda. UNFCCC is the driver. Dano argued that we have to look beyond SDGs 2013, because they talk only about food, water and health. However, the success of solving those conflicts builds upon the capacity on countries to adapt/mitigate to climate change in relation to those SDGs.

François Gave, Counsellor for Development and Sustainable Development, Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations debated that Climate Change is still politically charged and polarized. It tends to be a left-winged and right-winged debate.  He called for a broad-based world consensus on climate change and action. He outlined those ideas below:

  1. Incentives (Carbon pricing) Is on the road map to Lima and Paris.  The September 21st, Climate Summit will offer a global schematic that will be addressed in Peru this December at COP 20.

  2. Building confidence and addressing the free-rider problem through rules, transparency and monitoring at the private and civilian level.

  3. Perceptions. The language barrier between science and public information is not being addressed.

If we are to illustrate how awareness is the key to driving dialogue, development draft agreements like the Post-2015 Agenda and the UNFCCC as well as others across the globe are mirroring much of the dialogue from this roundtable, and we are slowly learning that integration is a must.

The main takeaways from this roundtable is that only through collaboration, adaptation, and dissemination will sustainability be ensured in our development goals.  It is only a matter of time before further integrated dialogue on each sectors’ development needs eliminates the separation of climate change from sustainability goals and unites them as dependent on the success of the other.

Don’t we know this already?

Exactly.  Join the Call to Action.  Write the Movement and support the Global Mobilisation for Climate Justice. 

This article was originally posted here

Written by Sarabeth Brockley

Sarabeth is a consultant for United Nations within the Division of Sustainable Development within the Water, energy and Capacity Development Branch. Her specialities include the nexus of water, climate and environmental justice in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. She has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru (2011-2012). She volunteers for the non-partisan non-profit Citizens' Climate Lobby and oversees the internship program for Pathway to Paris coalition-building and global citizen-engagement project: PathwaytoParis.org. She is a Alumnus of Lehigh University and Moravian College with a background in Environmental Chemistry and Environmental Policy Design. She serves as CARE's 16th district representative from Pennsylvania for their women's rights, and gender and climate change platforms. She actively contributes to community engagement around climate change and blogs on Pathway to Paris and Adopt A Negotiator.

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