27 August 2014 – Fourteen years ago world leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals with the deadline of 2015 to meet these goals. As this date approaches rapidly, and the MDG’s are to be followed by the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals), the question on the minds of many is: what next, and how?
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has made climate change action a priority of his administration and has identified it as the main threat to sustainable development. Yet, in this threat he has also acknowledged the opportunity it provides, “With enlightened action, we can create jobs, improve public health, protect the environment and spur sustainable green growth”.
Thus, on the day before the meeting of the General Assembly, Mr. Ban will host a Climate Summit with leaders of government, business, finance and civil society to meet, and focus, on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.
Yet, the inclusion of climate action as a separate Sustainable Development Goal has faced opposition. The first obstacle is the fact that there already is a UN legal mechanism to deal with climate change - the UNFCCC. “[There were some countries that felt] we don’t want to prejudge the provisions of the new agreement [next year],” Caleb Otto, Palau’s ambassador to the UN told IRIN news.
The questions many poor countries were asking, said Otto, were: “How can you expect Bangladesh to develop sustainably when it is constantly flooded? Do you expect sub-Saharan countries to talk about development when they are constantly fighting drought? How can you expect Pacific Ocean islands to think about sustainable development when they continuously have to deal with storm surges and a rising sea level?”
The second obstacle was presented by countries who felt that addressing the impact of climate change could be included or integrated into various goals like poverty alleviation. Lobbyists, however, argued that integrating climate change into all the goals would not have the required impact.
Therefore, more than 170 civil society organizations and networks from over 50 developed and developing countries called, in an open letter, for the new development framework “to address climate change in a manner that recognises the urgency and importance of dealing with the most fundamental challenge of our time”.
The fierce lobbying bore fruit. On the twenty fourth of September the General Assembly is expected to pass the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its 69th session. The SDG’s will feature 17 new goals, including a stand-alone climate change goal, as SDG Number 13 reads: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”
Join the debate using the hashtag #climate2014 on social media, or lend your voice to the climate action campaign by joing the Climate Selfie Petition. Snap a selfie for climate action and tag it with #selfie4climate!
Source: IRIN news
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