Summary report, 2–4 May 2016

Jump-starting the SDGs in Germany: Natural Resources and Sustainable Consumption and Production

The Conference “Jump-starting the SDGs in Germany: Natural Resources and Sustainable Consumption and Production” met from 2-4 May 2016 at Andel’s Hotel, in Berlin, Germany. Following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) by UN member states in September 2015, the meeting addressed the challenges and opportunities of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Germany and worldwide. It focused on natural resources and sustainable consumption and production patterns, taking into consideration Germany’s role as a major consumer of natural resources in a globalized world.

The conference, attended by 330 representatives of government, science, civil society and business, also focused on assessing the potential role of partnerships in supporting effective implementation of the SDGs. The meeting was organized by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), and cohosts the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Germanwatch, the World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Germany, Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR) and International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).


GLOBAL SOIL WEEK: The Global Soil Week (GSW) is an initiative of the IASS Global Soil Forum. The GSW convened for the first time in Berlin in 2012. It was established by IASS and partners as a forum for interactive exchange and dialogue among stakeholders and aimed to develop plans of action for sustainable land/soil management and governance. The second meeting, held in Berlin in 2013, discussed, among other issues, integrating land and soils in the SDGs debate. The third GSW convened in Berlin in April 2015. The Chair’s conclusions included that: ten of the proposed SDGs related to soil; SDGs must be implemented consistently to take advantage of their transformational potential; and there are many opportunities to integrate soil and water in the post-2015 development agenda.

HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON FOLLOW-UP AND REVIEW MECHANISMS FOR NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE TO ACHIEVE THE SDGS: Organized by IASS and other partners, this event convened from 12-13 May 2015 in New York, US. It built on discussions of the third GSW, focused on natural resource management, and sought to inform UN Member States’ deliberations during the fifth session of the intergovernmental negotiation process on the 2030 Agenda.

UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT: The UN General Assembly formally adopted the 2030 Agenda including the SDGs at a summit of heads of state and government in September 2015. It is composed of a preamble, a declaration, 17 SDGs and 169 supporting targets, means of implementation (MOI) and the Global Partnership, and a framework for follow-up and review of implementation. The 2030 Agenda includes SDG 2 (no hunger), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 15 (life on land) and 17 (partnerships).

HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON FOLLOW-UP AND REVIEW OF THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Held in conjunction with the Global Land Tool Network’s 6th Partners Meeting convened in Nairobi, Kenya on 2 November 2015, this meeting was one of the first on the 2030 Agenda follow-up and review. Discussions focused on natural resources, land and soil.



On Monday afternoon conference Chair Alexander Müller, German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Agriculture and Food, welcomed participants, noting the conference would combine sessions on partnerships, policy and science. Stressing the need for a cross-cutting approach to SDG implementation, he highlighted that national models may differ, but they all need to be participatory.

Günther Bachmann, RNE, prioritized domestic action for SDG implementation, drawing attention to RNE’s work in promoting transformative governance and addressing new issues in Germany as part of sustainable development, such as poverty, inequality, sustainable consumption and food waste.

In a video message, David Nabarro, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, described the 2030 Agenda as a “clear mandate” and “political manifesto” for total transformation. Underscoring that there is “no planet B” and “no plan B,” he called for building on collective action and multi-stakeholder platforms.

Abir Ghattas, Activist, Blogger and Digital Communication Strategist, said civil society and activists are agents of change and represent communities’ needs and interests. She called for: building capacity of civil society; reducing political barriers for advocacy, including promoting constructive engagement with governments; and recognizing that solutions will be specific to different contexts.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL EXPECTATIONS FOR RAPID IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SWEDISH INITIATIVE OF FIRST MOVER COUNTRIES: Ivonne Lobos Alva, IASS, highlighted the role of partnerships that include civil society and academia to support SDG implementation.

Among challenges in establishing partnerships, Stephen Chacha, Africa Philanthropic Foundation, highlighted fragmentation and thematic silos in civil society organizations (CSOs) and national government structures. He stressed the need to overcome competition for resources and recognition, and to develop coordination mechanisms.

Marianne Beisheim, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, explained the “first movers” Swedish initiative has not yet moved to implementation. She underscored elements required to make partnerships work, including: common interests; win-win situations that enable partners achieving objectives that cannot be achieved individually; pooled resources; defined responsibilities; specific time frames; and monitoring processes.

Johan Kuylenstierna, SEI, stated that initiatives, such as the Swedish Initiative, require implementation plans that engage civil society, noting that Agenda 21 was successful because of its civil society focus. He said key challenges for Sweden include addressing impacts of trade and reversing growing inequality.

Layla Saad, RIO+ Centre, described challenges in Brazil, including the quality of public services, aggravated by corruption and lack of accountability. On reducing impacts of natural resource extraction, Saad underscored the need for investment in diversifying economies of resource-rich countries, and called for ensuring that consumers pay “the full price” for resources.

Masego Madzwamuse, Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA), said despite South Africa’s progressive legislation, implementation is failing because of corruption and lack of local action. She suggested strategic partnerships to strengthen parliaments’ role in oversight, and systems that redistribute decision-making power and benefits to people at the local level.

Ahmed Allouche, People’s Representative Assembly, Tunisia, reported on efforts to include the rights of future generations in Tunisia’s Constitution, development of the country’s sustainable development plan and establishment of a parliamentary group on sustainable development.

Eugénio Fátima Lemos, Permatil, Timor-Leste, presented on Permatil’s sustainable agriculture network, focusing on training for farmers, communities and students. He outlined how the government has recently initiated work on the SDGs, but with no civil society involvement yet.

Javier Surasky, Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional, said the Colombian Government started the process of SDG implementation early to act as a regional leader, but that dialogue with civil society is only now being initiated. Noting that Colombia needs to address the 2030 and peace-building agendas at the same time, he identified peace as important “global resource” to implement the SDGs.

Responding to a question on why it is important for CSOs to meet, speakers highlighted: sharing knowledge and experiences; making sustainable development a non-partisan issue; connecting the global discourse with realities on the ground; and building bottom-up support for the political process.


Facilitator Jes Weigelt, IASS, framed the afternoon plenary focusing on implementation by outlining the role of participation, accountability, integrated approaches in practice, and traditional and scientific knowledge.

Farooq Ullah, Stakeholder Forum, described research on the SDGs that identified SDG 12 as the biggest transformational challenge. He outlined participatory, multi-stakeholder processes as key in leaving no one behind.

Rudolph Cleveringa, Global Water Partnership (GWP), highlighted that the water sector has long-standing experience in bringing together civil society with academia and governments, noting the importance of a shared vision in which people contribute with their specific expertise. On outstanding challenges, he highlighted reaching across multiple sectors “outside-the-water-box.”

Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, African Monitor, said interdependence and recognition of the intrinsic value of each actor, particularly of grassroots organizations, is key. Pointing to the need for results-based frameworks, she said participatory mechanisms can provide the end-user feedback that governments need from civil society. She urged addressing power imbalances to enable partnerships, including between government and civil society.

Måns Nilsson, SEI, presented the work of the Independent Research Forum in providing a “safe space” for SDG negotiators to understand and discuss thorny issues, including the concepts of universality, accountability and integration, and their aim to continue supporting countries and local actors at the implementation stage.

John Patrick Ngoyi, Caritas Committee of the Catholic Church, Nigeria, underscored universality as a real achievement of the 2030 Agenda. He stressed civil society’s role in promoting national-level implementation, ensuring government accountability, and participating in High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) processes.

Scott Vaughan, IISD, described the 2030 Agenda as the “moment of our time,” saying the economic system has not caught up to this historical change. He called for increased investment, and examination of trade systems and policies to determine how these need to adapt to this new global agenda. He additionally highlighted the need for balancing advances in technology with accountability and transparency.

Panelists provided closing remarks covering: balancing consumption and payment of commodities between countries; understanding interlinkages to identify partnerships; building capacity to increase inclusion and participation; institutionalizing platforms for multi-stakeholder processes; and taking the 2030 Agenda out of the UN into national and political processes.

Facilitator Lobos Alva summarized main messages, including the need for: building and learning from partnerships; addressing power imbalances to ensure meaningful partnerships; investing in building relationships with governments; addressing exclusion of countries in processes; going beyond silo approaches; and being open to working with diverse groups of actors.


A high-level policy segment was held on Tuesday morning. Reflecting on Monday’s discussions, Alexander Müller underscored the “triple challenge” in Germany to: change domestically; respond to the impact of its attitudes and actions on other countries, for example through patterns of production and consumption; and participate in multilateral processes. Noting that the SDGs need to be seen as a global learning process, he stressed establishing and reviving partnerships for implementation.

In an opening keynote, Christian Schmidt, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Germany, stressed the need to focus on implementation, noting that “we should no longer be satisfied with this situation of complacence.” He defined sustainability as responsibility towards future generations. Noting implementation can only proceed through partnerships, he said adoption of the 2030 Agenda holds every country, company and individual responsible for implementation, further expressing Germany’s intention to pioneer implementation. Focusing on sustainable agriculture and food production, he highlighted: that war and conflict leads to destruction of agricultural production and rural livelihoods; increased food prices and insecure food supplies increase the risk of conflict; and prices in developed countries need to reflect sustainability practices. Drawing attention to inappropriate production in water-scarce areas, such as dairy production, he stressed the need for society to invest in renewable energy, including biomass, to decarbonize. He highlighted multi-stakeholder initiatives to promote use of sustainably-produced certified agricultural commodities, including palm oil and cocoa, improving livelihoods and sustainability outcomes throughout the production chain; and drew attention to Germany’s national sustainability strategy and his Ministry’s programme on promoting sustainable consumption. On pricing, he stressed that since there is no global consensus on production, societies have to accept that the cost of sustainable production will be significantly higher than production not taking into consideration sustainability concerns, underlining the need for awareness-raising.

Maja Fjaestad, State Secretary to the Swedish Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Cooperation, underscored Sweden’s strong commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda including the aim to become the first “fossil fuel-free welfare state.” She described a recently appointed national delegation to support implementation.

Harald Braun, German Ambassador to the UN, stressed Germany’s commitment to taking early action on implementation of the 2030 Agenda including presenting a voluntary national review at the HLPF.

Swiss Ambassador Michael Gerber outlined Swiss initiatives and advocacy during the SDG negotiations, including on sustainable water management, noting that 82% of Swiss water consumption is attributable to the import of water-intensive products. He said the Swiss model of direct democracy supports exchange with non-state actors and called for enhanced collaboration with the private sector.

Klaus Töpfer, IASS, called for “first-mover” initiatives of developed countries to use technologies and approaches that can be replicated in all countries at different scales. He advocated for shifting the focus from “costs” and “sacrifice” for sustainable development towards an approach viewing sustainable development as an investment that will yield future benefits. Töpfer also suggested asking countries to submit “intended nationally-determined strategies” for SDG implementation to the HLPF.


INTRODUCTION: Thando Tilmann and Tim Beringer, IASS, spoke on ongoing research showing that at least 12 SDGs depend on access to ecosystem services. Saying that integration offers transformational potential, they drew attention to the nexus approach as a helpful concept to highlight interactions among, inter alia, food security, energy and natural resources. They explained that the dialogue forums would discuss these themes with a view to explore the crucial role that resources have for the implementation of all SDGs.

Noting that the 2030 Agenda involves more than 200 indicators, Matteo Pedercini, Millennium Institute, presented a model to deal with this complex framework, showing simulated outcomes of implementing measures in countries vis-à-vis the various SDGs. He explained how the implementation of a specific policy in a country can have both positive and negative outcomes across different SDGs.

Eight parallel dialogue forums were held on Tuesday afternoon, addressing: food security and nutrition and the 2030 Agenda; food waste and the SDGs; the urban side of food and nutrition security; soils for sustainable development and climate mitigation; managing expectations and trade-offs regarding bioenergy in the 2030 Agenda; civil society’s space to support a human rights-based implementation of the 2030 Agenda; a science-policy dialogue on resource efficiency and planetary boundaries; and the water nexus. The following sections summarize four selected dialogue forums.

NO 2 WITHOUT 11 - THE URBAN SIDE OF FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY: Facilitated by Oscar Schmidt and Katleen de Flander, IASS, this dialogue considered systemic approaches to address urban food and nutrition security from an urban, rather than a rural-supply, perspective. De Flander noted that while SDG 2 and 11 (sustainable cities and communities) are an important political commitment, they do not directly address the impact of urbanization on food security.

Jane Battersby, University of Cape Town, presented outcomes of two research projects on urban food insecurity in Africa. She said rapid urbanization leads to increases in both undernutrition and obesity, noting that both are associated with poverty. She said SDG 2 ignores urban-rural linkages causing the urban voice to “get lost” in participation. Noting that under SDG 2 agricultural policy remains the sole entry point for food-security related interventions, she questioned how the food and nutrition agendas of urban centers can be connected to food security.

Pavlos Georgiadis, We Deliver Taste, outlined his research on the impacts of the Greek crisis on food systems, noting that agriculture and food manufacturing were among the few sectors incurring only little damage. He presented a video showing interviews of urban youth moving to rural areas to seek opportunities in agriculture. He suggested that a crisis can be an opportunity to change the food system; noting however that in Greece change was inhibited through inappropriate policies and incentives such as the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. He expressed hope that a new EU directive on procurement in the public food sector could support a lasting transformation.

Responding to comments, he highlighted the need for a new framework that reverses the commodification of food and suggested that both poverty and education influence malnutrition.

Participants discussed, among other issues, the need for: training of urban people seeking opportunities in rural agriculture; recognizing that there is a rural-urban continuum; and developing integrated territorial planning reconnecting food production and food consumption.

Florence Egal, Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods Expert, presented the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact stating that it commits mayors to take action on sustainable food systems, sustainable diets and nutrition, social and economic equity, food supply and distribution, and prevention and management of food waste. She said the Pact’s Framework for Action and Guidebook provide a collection of good practices available for implementation, most of which contribute to meeting several SDGs. She suggested that the Pact has enormous transformational potential since local authorities have to deliver on all SDGs.

Participants then discussed the role of food councils, with one explaining that they can be a place to develop policies that motivate people to think about the production side of food. Another participant explained that many municipalities lack the mandate and budget to address food issues, making it difficult to establish such councils.

Thomas Forster, EcoAgriculture Partners, described approaches to integrated territorial development. He said that the impact of urbanization on food systems places the rural-urban nexus at the center of SDG challenges. He outlined the FAO City Region Food Systems, stating that it recognizes the importance of inclusive integrated landscape management and that all city regions have different “foodsheds.” He explained that local authorities need national policy support, noting that SDG 2 provides normative guidance for the national level only. He concluded that integrated territorial development needs to: integrate food system planning; highlight food and fiber flows across the rural-urban continuum; and harness the procurement power of cities and territories.

Participants discussed, among other issues, how to overcome the inherent tension between municipalities interested in lowering food prices for their urban constituency and rural jurisdictions seeking to increase prices for producers.

Participants then proposed final messages, including: empowering local communities to achieve the transformational change necessary to realize SDGs 2 and 11; emphasizing linkages; defining what education is needed; providing clear mandates to local governments; supporting the development of integrated “silo-busting” approaches; aligning public food supply chains; and replacing the rural-urban dichotomy with a framing emphasizing the rural-urban continuum.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS – SOILS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE MITIGATION: Facilitator Tim Beringer, IASS, opened the session describing the important role of soils being both a sink and a source of carbon. He outlined how the session would focus on the role of soils and ecosystems in climate change mitigation and sustainable development, discussing strategies and policies to address the dual pressures of land use and climate change.

Christoph von Stechow, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), presented research on modeling synergies and trade-offs involved in achieving the target to keep climate change below 2 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, alongside the SDGs. Outlining the energy-economic-climate models applied, von Stechow described trade-offs between cost and availability of energy technologies, and timing of climate actions in achieving the dual agendas. The best way to reduce trade-offs, he said, is to slow the global energy demand.

Knut Ehlers, German Environment Agency (UBA), provided an overview of soil organic carbon’s role in: soil biology; reducing erodibility; soil fertility; immobilization and degradation of pollutants and contribution to water filtration; and climate change mitigation. With a focus on mitigation, he stated that there is funding to support soil carbon-based mitigation in Germany, but changes in land use policies and subsidies are needed. He described three policy options for Germany and the EU, including protecting grassland areas, monitoring soil organic carbon on arable land, and protecting and rewetting peatlands.

Noting that grasslands are a large carbon sink, Tobias Reichert, Germanwatch, described how shifting from grasslands-based, to concentrated livestock production, leads to the conversion of grasslands to arable land, driven by demand for feed. In the case of Germany, he stated, this involves importing feed from other countries, as well as accounting for about half of all cereals grown nationally. He highlighted how reducing meat consumption and eating better quality meat could address multiple SDGs, including climate change through reduced pressure on land use change and health. He said that making the required transition will face many objections within industry.

Claudia Kammann, Geisenheim University, spoke on how to obtain the most benefits from biochar within agricultural systems. Studies show, she said, that biochar can be a mitigation tool as its production yields energy and a form of soil organic carbon with long-term stability, but its potential to increase crop yields is still uncertain. She shared insights from experiments, which demonstrated that combining biochar with nutrients results in the largest positive impact on crop yields. The biggest challenge now, she stated, is providing adequate incentives, including financial and yield increases, for adoption of biochar agricultural practices.

Sébastien Treyer, IDDRI, described France’s “4p1000” initiative, which aims to continuously increase carbon storage in soils. While this initiative is only one of a large set of solutions to be developed, Treyer highlighted how it has put soils on the political agenda and serves as an opportunity to transform agriculture. Achieving this aim, he said, will require changes in land use and agriculture policies, involve governance challenges, require adequate funding support and need to be able to deliver and measure multiple benefits of interventions.

CIVIL SOCIETY’S SPACE TO SUPPORT A HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2030 AGENDA: Shrinking Spaces for Civil Society – Status, Drivers and Trends: Facilitators Elisa Gärtner and Charlotte Beckh, IASS, opened the session highlighting that the global commitment to implement the SDGs in a collective and inclusive way contrasts with the fact that environment and human rights defenders are being harassed, arrested and imprisoned globally. 

Noting that “capitalism has gone wild,” Patrick Alley, Global Witness, provided examples of assaults on civil society globally, including murders of environmental activists, physical intimidation, corporate lawsuits and recent oppressive legislation, including in the UK, Cambodia, China and Malaysia. He drew attention to the responsibilities of donors, and called for countering the mainstream narrative that economic growth is good regardless of the human and environmental costs.

Strategies to Support and Protect Civil Society to Engage in the Implementation and Monitoring of the 2030 Agenda: Jeffery Huffines, UN Representative, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, questioned the extent of civil society engagement in preparation of the first set of voluntary national reviews to be presented at the upcoming HLPF session. He stressed the 2030 Agenda’s participation rights should be used to open up spaces for civil society at the regional and national levels. 

Roman Herre, FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) Germany, noted that in addition to professional NGOs, civil society includes grassroots organizations, such as small-scale farmers and women organizations. He described a case of FIAN-assisted implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) in Sierra Leone, where following an awareness-raising process, the government established an inclusive platform on land tenure, but stopped a FIAN fact-finding mission. He concluded that SDG monitoring should be rooted in, and informed by, human rights instruments.

Masego Madzwamuse, OSISA, identified threats to local land rights and food production, ranging from climate change to mining operations and large-scale agricultural investments. She highlighted strategies to address threats, including registering land rights and uses, advocacy for land reform, shadow policy designed by civil society and strategic litigation.

Christian Graefen, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), presented GIZ’s challenges in creating dialogue and overcoming mistrust between civil society and government in partner countries, and in identifying partner organizations.

The ensuing discussion addressed, among other issues: the need to address power asymmetries in multi-stakeholder platforms; corruption with regard to sustainable development and human rights; the limitations of legal systems, including ignoring customary rights; and the importance of social and economic rights, which most donors consider “too political.” Participants also discussed: the dynamics of trade agreements as contradicting the SDGs; and the model of benefit-sharing as favoring resource grabbing.

The Role of Governments to Create and Maintain Space for Civil Society to Realize Responsible Land Governance at Home and Abroad: Layla Saad, Rio+ Centre, identified issues of concern with regard to participatory processes, including: inequalities of power, information or understanding; lack of participation of women and youth; and insufficient integration of citizens’ inputs into decision making. She described the Brazilian National Council on Food and Nutrition Security, which makes proposals directly to the country’s President. Noting the Council seeks to address power imbalances by involving civil society, she drew attention to the successful government school feeding programme using locally produced products.

Fritz Jung, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany, highlighted that strengthening civil society is a priority for German development policy. He drew attention to a new global programme to support responsible land governance, which includes strengthening the role of civil society in partner countries.

Drawing attention to countries fragility due to conflicts and failing political systems, Caroline Kruckow, Bread for the World representative to the Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt), cautioned that: civil society is not a monolithic bloc but often different groups represent diverse society interests; multi-stakeholder processes cannot possibly function under oppressive regimes; and peace and state- building agendas may be approached through land governance.   

Amelia Coj, Asociación de Desarrollo Integral Mitij Ixoq’, Guatemala, said people need to be valued and seen as a fundamental element for sustainable development, and stressed the need for appropriate communication channels to promote awareness on the SDGs.

Solomon Mkumbwa, UN-Habitat, stressed the need to domesticate the SDGs by bringing them within the national political agendas and creating functional partnerships that leave no on behind. He called for building capacities, including through funding of local CSOs.

The ensuing discussion addressed: Germany’s extra-territorial human rights obligations and the role of German private actors in land grabbing; innovative mechanisms to monitor implementation of VGGT and related decisions of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS); Germany’s commitment to align development cooperation instruments with the VGGT; the need for information disclosure on land deals and for an analysis of financial flows; and reversing impunity in cases of corruption.

Presenters were invited to identify their take-away messages. Saad called for a multi-pronged approach reflecting the great diversity of organizations and ways to participate, and for national NGOs to conduct shadow reporting on country progress on the SDGs. Madzwamuse identified social and economic rights as the most contested space. Huffines invited Germany and all other “first mover” countries to provide evidence of the inclusion of civil society in their upcoming country reviews at the HLPF session. Jung acknowledged the need to engage more with the private sector. Alley highlighted the need to communicate SDGs as a story that affects all. Graefen drew attention to the possible need for institutional guidance on the SDGs in Germany through the German Chancellor’s office.

Kruckow noted that methodologies and tools are needed to create safe spaces for CSOs under threat. Herre cautioned that power imbalances and conflicts of interest need to be considered when promoting “multi-stakeholderism.” Mkumbwa prioritized awareness raising and inclusion. Coj called for innovative ways to reach local organizations.

FROM INTEGRATION TO NEXUS - WATER PIONEERING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Stressing that water is crucial for implementing many SDGs, facilitator Falk Schmidt, IASS, asked which actions are needed to implement SDGs in a coherent manner and whether the focus on natural resources provides cross-sectoral thinking. 

Klaus Töpfer, IASS, presented challenges and opportunities of an integrated agenda for sustainability. He discussed how globally increasing water needs should be addressed through wiser resource management, and highlighted the nexus approach to understand, inter alia, the relationship between energy generation, such as nuclear and coal power sources, and water consumption. He said: a nexus approach to energy, water and natural resources is key; SDGs are “the nexus of the nexus”; and transformation requires institutional and governance responses.

Rudolph Cleveringa, GWP, highlighted linkages among water and: food production; biodiversity; inclusion; and gender. He added that over 90% of countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on climate change are water dependent. To enhance water sustainability he suggested: reaching out to diverse partners, particularly to people without a voice; embracing risk and innovation, including stakeholders from up and downstream; and engaging in new partnerships.

Charlotte de Fraiture, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering (UNESCO-IHE), said agriculture has one of the biggest environmental footprints, representing 70% of the water and 40% of the land used globally. Exemplifying the nexus approach, she said in India electricity needed to pump water amounts to 4-6 % of national greenhouse gas emissions. She said the introduction of solar panels could provide farmers with free energy and decrease emissions. However, she explained that this measure could lead to increased water pumping and groundwater exhaustion. De Fraiture noted that additional measures to incentivize farmers to sell back solar electricity to the public grid could reduce these risks. She concluded that there is a need to combine objectives in different sectors to avoid the situation in which one’s solution becomes the other’s problem.

Klement Tockner, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), spoke on the nexus between water and biodiversity, mining and infrastructure, respectively. Highlighting an emerging “terraforming” trend in the construction of megaprojects, including 4000 major dams, he cautioned that overconfidence regarding technological progress, underestimation of risks and overestimation of benefits, risk perpetuating the use of inappropriate solutions, compromising options for the future.

Speaking on water and energy, Sybille Röhrkasten, IASS, said the nexus concept is only helpful if it contributes to adequately reflect the energy sector’s priorities, and suggested concrete ways to make it relevant. She supported: raising awareness on the increasing importance of water for energy security by, inter alia, pointing to water-induced cuts in power generation and examples of interdependence; indicating feasible solutions and incremental improvements, including by incorporating water scarcity into energy system models for public-policy planning; and increasing political and public pressure to tackle negative externalities of the energy sector.

In the ensuing discussions participants noted that the SDGs represent a step-change to water governance. One participant said that countries with good Millennium Development Goal (MDG) performance could preform worse under the SDGs if water governance is not adapted to the new requirements put forward by the SDGs. Participants also noted differences regarding the managerial implementation approach of the MDGs and the SDGs reflection of complexity. Exchanges also addressed the trade-off between narrow policies focusing on concrete actions and holistic approaches that require long-term processes to implement actions on the ground. Participants suggested: building on ongoing work on the ground, such as payments for environmental services; integrating various stakeholders and sectors; and establishing credible actors and processes to build successful partnerships. They also called for taking action without waiting for other sectors to start first and considering how to incorporate their sector’s priorities into other sectors. Participants also highlighted that SDGs are a learning process and that there is a need for building capacity in civil society to, inter alia, establish partnerships.


On Wednesday morning, moderator Christiane Grefe, Die Zeit, underscored that Germany is one of the countries that should be able to show that the 2030 Agenda works.

Jes Weigelt and Ivonne Lobos Alva, IASS, reported back on discussions held during the meeting. Weigelt highlighted that a focus needs to be placed on sustainable resource management taking a human rights-based approach to SDG implementation. Weigelt said other emerging questions included whether the German initiatives in energy transition yield cost reductions that are beneficial to other countries, and whether referring to SDG “implementation” is appropriate, given the need for organized societal learning processes.

Lobos Alva outlined: that the 2030 Agenda has the potential to address critical challenges, but this process will be complex and involve trade-offs; addressing natural resources requires an integrated approach to support the 2030 Agenda and to balance competing demands; and sustainable production and consumption needs to be addressed comprehensively rather than simply addressing “symptoms” such as food waste. She highlighted the need to combine technological approaches and aggregated data with the 2030 Agenda principles on human rights, accountability and participation.

Participants then heard reflections on messages from the dialogue forums and moving forward.

Lynn Wagner, IISD, stressed the role of information in ensuring accountability and promoting policy coherence, noting the importance of narratives about practical choices. She suggested sustainable natural resource management as an entry point to improve policy coherence, for example by aligning German development work with VGGT.

Lewis Akenji, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), said SDG 12 provides an integrative perspective as sustainable resource use and contributes to achieving all SDGs. He urged policy makers to consider solutions beyond the market economy, as merely increasing efficiency does not achieve absolute reductions. Cautioning against reducing “citizens” to “consumers,” he highlighted the need to change the context of consumption to enable real choices.

Douglas Williamson, Collective Leadership Institute, urged addressing methodologies for building multisectoral partnerships and noted that partnering activities require an “excellent process” to build trust, flexibility and resilience between partners.

Adolf Kloke-Lesch, SDSN, Germany, stressed the need to not see sustainability for the North and development for the South but instead apply the whole concept of sustainable development to improve the lives of citizens in Germany and worldwide. He underscored the need to learn from mistakes and highlighted the potential to develop transformative partnerships within Germany.

Miriam Block, Netzwerk N, described the network made up of students and young professionals aiming to achieve bottom-up transformation. She said some of the network’s activities include acting as a platform for exchange of knowledge and experiences, empowering peer-to-peer training and organizing an action day around food waste.

Ulf Jaeckel, 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) and Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), outlined the creation of 10YFP and work around sustainable consumption and production. He said there is a need to institutionalize incentives at the national level, including providing better information and options to consumers.

Klaus Töpfer, IASS, underscored the need to “become radical” on sustainability, including by taking a more critical stance towards markets and questioning parliaments adopting market policies that do not reflect sustainability and hinder real democracy. He praised current initiatives on vocational education and training for sustainable development. He added that SDGs must lead to thinking beyond North-South cooperation in sustainability towards also considering South-South and South-North perspectives. A participant suggested that cooperation North-North should also be included in this.

During discussions, participants suggested: the German government engage in systems research, building on the practices of local actors; the G-20 discuss the international resource footprint of developed countries through international trade; and evaluating the results of partnerships. Other relevant issues addressed included: SDG implementation being based on listening to people’s needs; putting in place enabling strategic means, including complaint and remedy mechanisms; the need to look at existing local initiatives; and the key role that a sustainable food policy in the EU could have in implementing the 2030 Agenda.


Conference Chair Alexander Müller presented the Chair’s conclusions. Noting that the European dimension is missing, he outlined six main messages:

  • Governments should “act now” to capitalize on the momentum created by the adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and initiate national follow-up action to be presented at the HLPF in July 2016. While these global agreements fundamentally challenge current development pathways, they also offer opportunities; however these opportunities can only be realized if the SDGs are influencing key development drivers, such as trade policies, investments and the financial architecture.
  • The conference addressed concrete thematic areas important to integrate SDGs, achieve synergies and unveil trade-offs, focusing on the sustainable management of natural resources and how to change consumption and production patterns.
  • Implementation of the SDGs should create opportunities for participation and a more “level-playing field,” and partnerships should be drawn upon to establish such an inclusive process.
  • First mover countries should lead by example. They have a pivotal role and a special responsibility in setting good precedents and practices for implementation.
  • Implementation of the SDGs should be seen as a global learning process applying organized learning approaches at both the HLPF and national levels
  • Germany’s implementation of the SDGs will be guided by a revised National Sustainability Strategy which will need to address three dimensions of implementation: in Germany; by Germany; and with Germany.

REFLECTION ON IMPLICATIONS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SDGS: Teresa Ribera, IDDRI, said the 2030 Agenda is a new social contract, depending on three pre-conditions: interdependence; ecological limitations; and shared prosperity. She urged concentrating not only on “what” needs to be done, but also on “how,” calling for: identifying the conditions; sequencing actions and trade-offs; ensuring broad participation; and providing opportunity for a public discussion. Highlighting the importance of people, politics and prosperity, as well as fairness and the need for a renewed pressure on politics, she said leadership should be combined with flexibility.

Rômulo Paes de Sousa, RIO+ Centre, spoke on the importance of: looking at national legal frameworks; aligning planning processes; facilitating policy coherence across levels nationally; and examining institutional arrangements, including involvement of civil society. He said the main drivers to achieve the transformational change that the 2030 Agenda requires, are the customers, voters and citizens.

Klaus Milke, Germanwatch, stated some issues were left out of the 17 SDGs including fair distribution. Within Germany, Milke called for reflection upon what inclusion means for competition and approaching business and human rights together. He highlighted the importance of working within the broader European context and making the SDGs relevant within the framework of challenging societal issues.

In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted, inter alia, the need for: taking concrete steps through, for example, implementing an indicator on coherence; first movers to effectively act by coming up with unexpected and relevant commitments; looking not just at best but also at worst practices; and ensuring integration of sustainability into the formal learning system.

REFLECTIONS ON IMPLICATIONS FOR GERMANY: Müller invited representatives of four German Federal ministries to provide reflections on a coherent German SDG strategy.

Stephan Contius, BMUB, said SDG implementation offers new economic opportunities, such as profitable deployment of renewable energies, and noted that countries are realizing that NDCs for climate action must be aligned with SDG strategies. Lauding Colombia’s progress in addressing SDG implementation as part of the peace-building process, he called for international support for countries affected by conflict. He also urged a more comprehensive discussion of necessary changes in German lifestyles.

Ingolf Dietrich, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), said all countries are developing countries when it comes to sustainability. He stated that departmental specializations require that people learn to “think together” for integrated approaches. He explained that German development cooperation includes a pillar on domestic actions to take into account the impacts of domestic consumption and production patterns on other countries noting this is also reflected in the new German sustainability strategy, which is structured according to the SDGs.

Volkmar Dietz, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), underscored needs for knowledge and research to address sustainable development challenges, including sustainable consumption. He called for a platform to involve academia and scientists in SDG implementation, as well as processes to communicate research outcomes across different sectors.

Christian Fronczak, BMEL, underscored drawing on cross-sectoral and inter-institutional coordination and bottom-up approaches to address connections and interlinkages between SDGs and achieve progress in implementation. He stressed the need to produce more food for a growing world population, at low prices, while managing natural resources sustainably.

Speakers then discussed German initiatives and experience on: integrating education into the SDG implementation process, including the German action programme on education for sustainable development; refocusing research to address sustainability challenges; raising awareness for sustainability; and developing incentives for inter-ministerial collaboration and synergies.

In conclusion, Johan Kuylenstierna said that the SDGs will need to influence core development processes that are often contrary to what SDGs are about, such as the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. Müller closed the meeting at 2:08 pm.


30th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe: This meeting will include a ministerial roundtable on the SDGs and their implications for agriculture and rural development in Europe and Central Asia. The conference will also address the priorities for FAO’s work in the region.  dates: 4-6 May 2016  location: Antalya, Turkey  contact: Goran Stavrik, Secretary of the Conference  e-mail: [email protected] www:

International Conference 2016 “Sustainable Development: It’s time!”: Organized by IDDRI, this by-invitation conference will convene 150 decision makers and experts to discuss key levers to build upon momentum generated through the adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Three major challenges will be discussed: tracking commitments made by governments and non-state actors; shifting investments and aligning expectations; and ensuring social justice and solidarity.  dates: 10-11 May 2016  venue: Palais Brongniart  location: Paris, France  contact: IDDRI  phone: +33 (0) 1 45 49 76 60  e-mail: [email protected] www:!

2016 Potsdam Ocean Governance Workshop: This invitation-only event will bring together experts to discuss “SDGs for the Ocean: Turning Commitment into Action.” The workshop is hosted by IASS in collaboration with IDDRI, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), BMZ, GIZ and the Kiel Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean.”  dates: 12-13 May 2016  venue: IASS Potsdam  location: Potsdam, Germany  contact: Stefanie Schmidt  phone: +49 331 28822-385  e-mail: [email protected] www:

Forum on Shaping Smarter and More Sustainable Cities: Striving for SDGs: Organized by the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), this Forum aims to: analyze and discuss the concept of smart sustainable cities; map current national and international initiatives on this topic; identify key challenges and opportunities; examine various standards, indicators and methodologies for assessing the performance of cities; and discuss the potential of smart sustainable cities for bolstering the 2030 Agenda.  dates: 18-19 May 2016  venue: Temple of Hadrian, Piazza di Pietra  location: Rome, Italy  contact: Cristina Bueti; Domenica Carriero  phone: +4122 917 16 72  e-mail: [email protected] ; [email protected] www:

Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference: This conference, organized by UNECE, will address: the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda and the pan-European region, including multilateral environmental agreements, mechanisms, policies and institutions supporting the 2030 Agenda, and review of the pan-European environment. dates: 8-10 June 2016  venue: Batumi Sheraton Hotel  location: Batumi, Georgia  contact: Zaal Lomtadze, Secretary to the Conference, UNECE  e-mail: [email protected] www:

EMPOWERing vulnerable land users to become agents of a transformative 2030 Agenda: A Proposal for Inclusive and Participatory Global Thematic Reviews on Natural Resources: This session will be held during the tenth edition of the European Development Days (EDD 2016) on the 2030 Agenda. The session will focus on inclusive, participatory and transparent follow-up and review mechanisms of the 2030 Agenda to open up ways for the poorest and most vulnerable to hold governments accountable. The session is organised by IASS, the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, GIZ, the Together 2030 initiative, and CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation.  dates: 16 June 2016 venue: Tour & Taxis location: Brussels, Belgium contact: Ivonne Lobos Alva  phone: +49 331 28822 431  e-mail: Ivonne. [email protected] www:

Resilient Cities 2016: 7th Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation: Organized by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and co-hosted with the City of Bonn, Germany, this Forum will focus on a range of issues related to urban resilience and climate change adaptation.  dates: 6-8 July 2016  venue: Gustav-Stresemann-Institut  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: ICLEI phone: +49 228/976 299-28  e-mail: [email protected] www:

Thematic Reviews for an Integrated Follow-Up & Review of the 2030 Agenda: Organized by IASS and partners, this invitation-only high-level event will be held ahead of the HLPF and will aim to discuss the potential framing and set-up of a thematic review in support of the HLPF, from a natural resources perspective.  dates: 7-8 July 2016  venue: DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan Hotel  location: New York City, US  contact: Ivonne Lobos Alva  phone: +49 331 288 224 31  e-mail: [email protected]

HLPF 2016: The fourth HLPF, convening under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), will take place on 11-15 July 2016, followed by a three-day ministerial meeting on 18-20 July 2016. The theme of the 2016 session will be “Ensuring that no one is left behind.”  dates: 11-20 July 2016  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  contact: Marion Barthelemy  phone: +1 (212) 963-4005  e-mail: [email protected] www:

2016 International Conference on Sustainable Development: The fourth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development, on the theme “Moving Forward: The SDGs in Practice,” will share practical solutions for achieving the SDGs at local and national levels. The conference will focus on four thematic areas: innovation in technology and governance; data; the science-policy-implementation interface; and education and training. The main topics for discussion will be: low carbon urban development; socially inclusive economic growth; agriculture, food security and nutrition; and disaster resiliency and adaptation.  dates: 21-22 September 2016  venue: Lerner Hall, Columbia University  location: New York City, US  e-mail: [email protected] www:

UNCCD CRIC15: The 12th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the UNCCD decided to convene a special session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC15) to discuss methodological questions relating to reporting. This session will address enhancing synergies in national reporting requirements under the UNCCD, and the SDGs, especially the Land Degradation Neutrality target.  dates: 17-21 October 2016 [tentative]  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: UNCCD Secretariat  www:

43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security: The 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is expected to address a series of items arising from its Multi-year Programme of Work, including: nutrition; engagement with the SDGs; connecting smallholder farmers to markets; urbanization, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition; and monitoring. A thematic event is expected to share experiences and take stock of the use and application of the VGGT.  dates: 17-21 October 2016  venue: FAO Headquarters  location:  Rome, Italy  contact: CFS Secretariat  email: [email protected] www:

UNFCCC COP 22 and CMP 12: The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC and the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) will be held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Moroccodates: 7-18 November 2016  location: Marrakesh, Morocco  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228 815-1000  email: [email protected] www:


Negotiating blocs
European Union
Non-state coalitions