Event Covered on Tuesday, 9 July 2019
Photos by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis
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Science to Power Sustainable Development Goals - 11 Years to Maximise on Synergies and Opportunities between the Paris Agreement and UN 2030 Agenda
Presented by the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) and the Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
This side event explored the interlinkages between the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.” Advocating for greater synergies, experts identified ways in which climate change can be mainstreamed across the two Agendas, exploring several challenges relating to water, energy, land degradation, and management of marine ecosystems.
- Key steps for boosting sustainable development implementation include: investment in data collection that support operationalization of national development plans and creation of networks that facilitate the exchange of knowledge;
- African countries are committed to the UN 2030 Agenda, Agenda 2063 and the Paris Agreement, however implementation of these commitments remain uncoordinated;
- The SDGs offer an unique opportunity for African countries to maximise synergies among Agendas and climate change efforts, with science and the development of national plans being recommended as tools for achieving these goals;
Oliver Chinganya, UN Economic Commission of Africa, opened the event acknowledging the interface between the UN 2030 Agenda , the Agenda 2063 and the Paris Agreement. He highlighted that their goals are interrelated but implementation is not sufficiently harmonized, inviting participants to recommend ways to enhance synergies.
Recognizing that science in Africa is underestimated, Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, emphasized that investment in science and research is fundamental to connect international goals, as well as to adopt a transformative approach towards climate change.
George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, Minister for Planning and Development of the Republic of Ghana, acknowledged science as a main enabler and an important foundation for policy-science interfaces. To build synergies between the Agendas and the Paris Agreement he recommended: elaborating national development plans to provide guidance; investing in data collection to support operationalization; and more recognition of African universities as important stakeholders.
Fatima Denton, UNU-INRA, reinforced the role of science as an alibi and as a way to connect the dots between the Agendas and the Paris Agreement. She underlined how climate change is a "unifier" and that Africa should be seen as an example in terms of solidarity for climate change because of low carbon footprints and ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). She also noted opportunities for economic development linked to oceans through, for example, deep seabed mining.
Dirk Messner, UNU-EHS, called for the need to adopt roadmaps in cooperation with science and explained how the connectivity between the Agendas and the Paris Agreement can be attained through a systemic perspective. To implement the SDGs, he presented six major transformation arenas (human capacity and demography; consumption and production; decarbonization and energy; food, biosphere and water; smart cities; and digital revolution) and four key principles (transformative governance; decarbonization; circularity; and inclusiveness at local and global scales).
Sam Nujoma, Marine and Coastal Research Centre, University of Namibia, shared information on how science has been powering the implementation of SDGs in the ocean systems. He underscored the importance of the “Blue Ocean Economy” and gave examples of solutions adopted in Namibia, including the desalination of water using wave power.
In the ensuing discussion, participants noted the need to link natural and social science, inquiring about the linkages between climate change and security, as well as women empowerment and sustainable development.
Panellists argued that transformative governance is about “deep change” and one participant reiterated that “action is missing while climate change is acting”. The event raised awareness and highlighted next steps to implement best practices and achieve the required synergies between both Agendas and the Paris Agreement. Participants left the event committed to continuing discussions beyond the conference room.
Why does it matter:
This side event encouraged synergies between on-going different work streams, including the UN 2030 Agenda, Agenda 2063 and the Paris Agreement. It identified opportunities for research and partnerships among stakeholders, reinforcing in particular SDG 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development). The event also focused on advancing ways of making progress on SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) and set recommendations guiding African countries to enhance policies that are more inclusive. One example was the creation of a network of partners that will work on improving the synergies among the Agendas and mainstreaming them into development planning.