By Hilary Ogbonna, Programme Specialist & Africa and Arab States Focal Point, UN SDG Action Campaign
The year 2015 was a landmark for international development cooperation. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction by Member States was an indication of the political will to end poverty and human suffering, whilst protecting the environment upon which present and future generations depend for their existence and survival. These agendas and frameworks are particularly complementary and will require coordinated actions at local, national and global levels to achieve.
As national implementation of these global instruments begins, the need to ensure linkages between the SDGs and Climate Action was the centre of discussions at the Climate Change Conference (SB46) in Bonn, Germany. The focus of the Global Experts Meeting on Adaptation at the conference was exploring strategies that will promote a cohesive national implementation framework which ensures that Climate Action contributes to the achievement of the SDGs.
The ravaging effects of climate change constitute a major threat to achieving the SDGs. Climate change poses substantial risks to agriculture, health, water supplies, food production, nutrition, ecosystems, energy security, and infrastructure. Across the regions of Africa, Asia and the Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been continuous changes in weather patterns that have led to low agricultural yields impacting negatively on food security, livelihoods and incomes. In the Horn of Africa, UN Agencies have reported that famine induced by drought is threatening the lives and well-being of more than 10 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Eritrea. The shrinking of Lake Chad over the past three decades apart from affecting livelihoods, has also served as a driving force to the terrorist insurgency and insecurity affecting Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun and Niger. In a similar vein, coastal erosions occasioned by rise in sea levels continue to ravage Small Islands nations impacting on tourism, infrastructure and the socio-economic fabrics of the populations.
Based on the foregoing, it is important to note that national efforts at ensuring adaptation and building resilience to climate change can only flourish if there is a concerted strategy and action to implement the SDGs across sectors. The embedding of a stand-alone goal on climate change (Goal 13) in the SDGs is a recognition of this complimentary and re-enforcing nexus. The same situation is also applicable to other related goals such as building resilient infrastructure and promoting sustainable industrialisation and innovation (Goal 9); making cities and human settlements safe and sustainable (Goal 11); ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (Goal 12); conserve and sustainably use marine resources (Goal 14) and protect, restore and sustainably use land resources, combating deforestation, desertification and biodiversity loss (Goal 15).
It is imperative to note that without coordinated and collaborative approaches at linking Climate Action and SDGs programs in terms of national implementation strategies, institutional coordination, financing, monitoring, evaluation and reporting, any little gain made in one could easily be eroded by the inaction in the other.
The UN SDG Action Campaign has a unique mandate to do mobilisation, awareness creation, monitoring SDGs implementation, inspiring actions with innovations and data, and building partnerships and capacity at national and local levels will be focusing on drawing these linkages in our programs and partnerships. The Campaign will work across our partners in the UN System, Member States, civil society, private sector and innovators to ensure that the nexus between Climate Action and the SDGs continues to influence policy development, implementation, review and reporting at all levels. The Campaign will deploy its tools and comparative advantages in promoting citizens’ voices and facilitating dialogues through MY World Survey and the Humans of My World, promoting platforms for advancing and sharing best practices such as the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development and the use of technology and innovations to share human stories, build empathy and inspire actions.