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High-level Political Forum 2018

9 - 18 July


The theme of the 2018 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development will be "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.” In the lead-up to the Forum, weekly blogs by representatives of Member States, UN system, and major groups and other stakeholders will be featured on this page to present various perspectives on this theme. The role of SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17 will also be highlighted, as these goals will be in focus at this year’s Forum. Follow #HLPF on social media for the latest blogs and other HLPF updates.

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
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    ECOSOC President H.E. Ms. Marie Chatardová Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN

    Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies

    ECOSOC President H.E. Ms. Marie Chatardová

    Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN

    5 January 2018

    The theme of the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, to be held from 9-18 July 2018 in New York, is "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies". Considering the current global trends that are putting stress on our interconnected societies, economies and environment, such a transformation is urgently needed.

    Inequalities within and between countries continue to grow. In many places, individuals or groups confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in economic, social and political life. The rapid urbanization of the past decades has brought enormous challenges, including growing numbers of slum dwellers, increased air pollution, inadequate basic services and infrastructure, and unplanned urban sprawl. Creating more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban spaces is a priority.

    Without ensuring access to safe water and sanitation for all and sound management of freshwater ecosystems, the inequality divide will not close and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be achieved. The advancement of sustainable energy has an equally fundamental role in attaining the SDGs, as it is crucial for eradicating poverty, advancing health, education, water supply and industrialization, and for combating climate change.

    To achieve sustainable and resilient societies, we also need to establish strong national frameworks for sustainable consumption and production, sustainable business practices and consumer behavior and adherence to international norms on the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes. The ecosystem challenges that we face are also numerous, and include the decline in land productivity and the increase in biodiversity loss, poaching and trafficking of wildlife.

    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by Member States in 2015 has the potential to address all these challenges, but to do so its implementation needs to progress timely and effectively. Leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first is critical, including by empowering the most marginalized groups and their families so that they can lead decent and productive lives.

    A solid follow-up and review framework for the Agenda’s implementation is essential to ensure that our collective efforts are on track. The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which is the global platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, gives guidance and political recommendations through its Ministerial Declaration. Countries, UN system and major groups and other stakeholders alike gather annually at the HLPF to share experiences, challenges and lessons learned in implementing this Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals thus driving and focusing our efforts.

    The HLPF 2018 will review Sustainable Development Goals 6,7,11,12 and 15 and their interlinkages with all SDGs. As every year the HLPF will also review Goal 17 on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

    These goals and their interlinkages, including with other international agreements such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction, provide an excellent opportunity to look at our economies and societies and to discuss and define strategies and policies that will make our societies more sustainable and resilient, from circular economy to reducing the human ecological footprint.

    A critical element of the HLPF’s follow-up and review mechanism are the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) by Member States on their follow-up and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. These VNRs can also serve as important vehicles to strengthen policies and institutions and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDG at all levels.

    I would like to express my deep appreciation to the 48 Countries that have volunteered to present Voluntary National Reviews in 2018. They are: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Benin, Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic , Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, State of Palestine, Sudan, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vietnam.

    I invite everyone to follow this blog series on the 2018 High-Level Political Forum. Published regularly in the lead-up to the 2018 HLPF, it will highlight different perspectives by various actors on “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” and the SDGs in focus at the 2018 Forum.

    Mr. Liu Zhenmin

    Intensive preparations for the 2018 High-level Political Forum are underway, featuring 48 countries to review progress towards SDGs

    Mr. Liu Zhenmin

    Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

    10 January 2018

    Preparations for the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to be held from 9 to 18 July in New York, are already underway.

    As the main United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, the 2018 HLPF will carry out in-depth reviews of progress on SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17, and their inter-linkages with other Goals. A record number of 48 countries will present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on the status of their implementation of the 2030 Agenda to the forum.

    The 2030 Agenda is owned and driven by countries, and the progress of its implementation depends on national actions. Country-level actions that effectively translate the SDGs to the national level, and engage all sectors of society, are crucial for success. The HLPF supports such actions by providing a global space where governments, local authorities, civil society, private sector, academia, the scientific and technological community and others can all come together to share and exchange their experiences on implementing the transformative SDGs.

    The eight days of the Forum in July, however, are only a culmination of numerous activities by many actors in the months leading up to it. A number of preparatory meetings will be organized at the national, regional and global levels in the months ahead. At the national level, the VNR process is becoming a consultative and participatory one, engaging multiple stakeholders. It is expected to rally support and marshal resources for implementation. It is not an end in itself, but it plays an increasingly important role in outreach, in sharing experiences, in identifying gaps and in mobilizing action.

    At the regional and global levels, there are similar engagements. These include a series of preparatory meetings organized by UN DESA, in close collaboration with Regional Commissions and other UN entities, for the countries that will present VNRs at the HLPF in 2018.

    A snapshot of general characteristics of early implementation of the 2030 Agenda can be found in the Synthesis Report 2017 prepared by DESA. The report identifies challenges and examples of implementation from the countries that presented VNRs to the HLPF in 2017. It looks at a range of actions and policy measures relating to implementation, including ownership and involving stakeholders, institutional mechanisms, incorporation of the SDGs into national frameworks, means of implementation and an overview of how countries addressed goals and targets in the VNRs.

    Additionally, with UN system-wide support, regional preparatory meetings (Regional Forum on Sustainable Development) will be organized by the five UN Regional Economic Commissions this Spring.

    A number of thematic expert group meetings on SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17 and on the interlinkages between the SDGs will also be held in the lead-up to the HLPF.

    As in past years, I am certain that the 2018 HLPF will again benefit from active multi-stakeholder engagement throughout the preparatory process. During the 2018 HLPF, an SDG Business Forum, a multi-stakeholder Partnership Exchange, a gathering of Mayors and other local and regional authorities, SDGs Learning, Training and Practice sessions and many other events will be organized, allowing for a sharing of diverse perspectives on SDGs implementation.

    I invite you to visit the website of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development for further information on this year’s session. Please join us in this global gathering for SDGs, in our global effort to leave no one behind.

    Robert Glasser, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction

    We have an opportunity like never before to avoid the creation of new disaster risk and apply the brakes to economic losses

    Robert Glasser

    UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction

    16 January 2018

    In recent days, world headlines have been dominated by the mudslides in California which at the time of writing have claimed 17 lives and injured many more. The economic losses triggered by the sudden flows of earth, rocks and debris from hillsides stripped bare by last year’s wildfires will add further to the US$300 billion of economic losses suffered by the US in the last year.

    Last August, Sierra Leone had a similar environmental disaster but the death toll was enormous. Hundreds died when a nighttime mudslide destroyed, without warning, whole neighborhoods in Freetown as torrential rain swept down hillsides stripped bare to provide fuel and farmland for impoverished households.

    It’s a stark illustration of the fact that disaster fatalities are more influenced by socio-economic vulnerability, and exposure or lack of protection from the elements, than by the hazard itself.

    Since 1990 almost 90% of mortality recorded in major internationally reported disasters has occurred in low and middle income countries.

    Poverty and Inequality are major obstacles to reducing disaster losses and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Nothing lays bare the resilience gap in today’s world like a disaster triggered by a flood, a storm, an earthquake or a heatwave.

    Some 220,000 people died in the 2010 earthquake which rocked Haiti reducing the capital Port-au-Prince to rubble with economic losses equivalent to 120% GDP, setting back the country’s development efforts by many years.

    In least developed countries particularly, the inadequacy of the built environment is often exposed by major disasters and underlines the importance of taking specific steps to upgrade slums which house more than 800 million people and turn them into sustainable cities and towns with thriving communities which are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

    Economic losses ensuing from disasters devour a much greater proportion of GDP in countries at the lower end of the Human Development Index than among those at the top despite the great difference in terms of absolute economic losses. Average annual disaster losses are equivalent to 22% of social expenditure in low-income countries.

    The World Bank estimates that disasters force 26 million people into poverty every year. An ODI briefing paper for the World Humanitarian Summit calculated that as many as 325 million extremely poor people could be living in the 49 most hazard-prone countries by 2030.

    The Sisyphean nature of the task ahead, if we do not step up investment in disaster risk reduction, is further emphasized by the fact that disasters contributed to a rise in world hunger of 38 million people in 2016 and the displacement of over 20 million people.

    The good news though is that we have an opportunity like never before to avoid the creation of new disaster risk and apply the brakes to economic losses.

    It is estimated that US$6 trillion will have to be invested annually in infrastructure (urban, land-use and energy systems) by 2030. This unprecedented drive towards urbanization can come as a great boon to many if it is carried through in a manner which avoids the creation of disaster risk and seeks to reduce existing levels of risk.

    According to analysis in UNISDR’s 2015 Global Assessment Report for Disaster Risk Reduction, typical benefit to cost ratios for prospective disaster risk management lies in the range of 3:1 to 15:1. If indirect benefits for these new towns and cities are factored in then the dividends of risk informed investment will pay off in many positive ways beyond simply avoiding future disaster losses.

    One obvious area is the reduced cost of response and recovery in an era when climate change is already having an impact on the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. This can leave more money to be spent in vital areas such as eradicating poverty and hunger, and providing health and education for all.

    Dr. Lisa Guppy, United Nations University

    A Starting Point to Solve the Global Water Crisis

    Dr. Lisa Guppy

    United Nations University

    1 February 2018

    In 2010, the United Nations declared access to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation to be a human right. Five years later, UN Member States reaffirmed their commitment to this human right in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and through the targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 - "ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all".

    As we move into the third year of the 2030 Agenda, it might seem too early to expect substantial progress. However, with the latest SDG report UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that "implementation has begun, but the clock is ticking". There is already a sense that the pace of progress is too slow to meet targets by 2030.

    But much of this early anxiety is rooted in limited country baseline data and underdeveloped statistical capacity . Compounding the challenges of initial SDG assessments is that, while indicators have been determined for all SDGs, clear methods of measuring indicators have not. Without a standardised and confident way to determine progress, ongoing implementation becomes clouded.

    Water - specifically SDG 6 - is a perfect example of this dilemma.

    Each of the 169 SDG targets will be measured through one or two indicators, and for SDG 6 nine core indicators have been agreed and accepted. The next step is to agree on how to measure these nine indicators. So far, methods have been established to measure four, but the practicality of measuring these four indicators to build reliable baseline data is difficult for many countries. As a result, official country progress reports have been rudimentary so far.

    A fundamental reason for this is because most countries, from both high- and low-income brackets, are still working to realign their political, institutional and planning mechanisms to deal with expectations of the SDGs. In 2017, 43 countries voluntarily reported on progress against a small number of SDGs. Among the range of challenges and advances each country reported, the action group 'Together 2030' concluded that the weakest area was in reporting concrete actions taken for SDG implementation.

    And SDG 6 is no exception. It is uncertain how each nation will decide their water priorities and paths. So far, there is only one universal agreement: 'business as usual' will mean we all fail.

    Changing the 'business as usual' approach will require evidence-based decision making - and evidence in the water sector is hard to come by. The sector is characterised by multiple stakeholders; conflict between environmental, social and economic agendas; and complex science, with a level of uncertainty under changing environmental conditions. National water agendas are difficult to manage even by experts, which leads to difficulties in using data to develop policy that can lead to ambitious action under SDG 6.

    To overcome this, UN agencies, non-government organisations and governments around the world are working to improve evidence building and then linking that to a better understanding of water management solutions. One strong example is the SDG Policy Support System ( SDG PSS) developed by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health in partnership with the UN Office for Sustainable Development, the Korean Ministry of Environment, and the Korean Environment Corporation . The system enables national governments to leverage existing and emerging national and international data, to automatically build robust and dynamic evidence that is fit for policymaking and planning around SDG 6.

    The SDG PSS has been designed to encourage one agreed, and therefore authoritative, evidence base for policy use. As data are collated into the SDG PSS, the system automatically synthesises and evaluates the data against SDG 6 targets and indicators. In this way, users can view strengths, gaps and needs for SDG indicators in one summary.

    The SDG PSS is currently being trialled in five countries, but it is freely available for trial use and review by policymakers, international organisations and water experts. The goal is to offer a completed version globally by mid-2018.

    The ambition of the SDG 6 targets reflects the urgency and scale of the global water crisis. However, the scale of challenges we need to face and solve are daunting. Initiatives like the SDG PSS provide a simple starting point - a way for national governments to effectively formulate implementation plans and policies from a reliable baseline of evidence that can guide us to real SDG progress.

    Malcolm Johnson, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

    SDG 11: Building the World’s Smart Sustainable Cities Together

    Malcolm Johnson

    ITU Deputy Secretary-General

    12 February 2018

    More than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, it will be nearly 70%. This raises huge challenges for municipalities and city planners. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer the solution to many of these challenges. At the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations’ specialized agency for ICTs, we are working to develop the tremendous potential ICTs have to help build smarter, more sustainable cities.

    Indeed, many cities across the world are already utilizing Big Data analytics gathered from smart sensors and connected devices to manage traffic, reduce energy usage – and improve a wide range of urban operations and services.

    If we want to reach the targets set out by the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 11 (SDG 11), we need to work together to develop the tools that will help cities become truly smart and sustainable.

    To succeed, international organizations, national governments, municipalities and local partners from civil society, academia and the private sector need to join forces.

    Taking action

    Thankfully, there are encouraging signs of such collaboration.

    ITU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) launched "United for Smart Sustainable Cities" (U4SSC) in 2016. U4SSC is now supported by 16 United Nations bodies, and over 50 cities have now joined ITU’s pilot project.

    U4SSC has facilitated the development of internationally recognized key performance indicators (KPIs) which allow cities to set goals and measure progress on becoming smarter and more sustainable. The indicators, developed by international experts in ITU and UN bodies, fall under five overarching categories: the use of ICTs; physical infrastructure; equity and social inclusion; quality of life; and environmental sustainability.

    Recently, many cities including Dubai, Singapore, Montevideo, Maldonado, Moscow, Valencia, Pully and Rimini have asked ITU for assistance in the implementation of the U4SSC KPIs. In the past few months ITU has published case studies on the efforts of Dubai and Singapore to apply smart city innovations, providing a valuable reference point to other cities pursuing greater efficiency and sustainability.

    The creation of smart cities require a trusted infrastructure capable of supporting an enormous volume of ICT-based applications and services, which in turn requires coordinated adherence to common standards that ensure openness and interoperability. ITU develops international standards to enable the coordinated development of Internet of Things technologies and their application in smart cities. They also outlined how smart grids can help to build more controllable and efficient energy systems. Work on standards for smart 5G systems, which will help improve the feasibility of smart processes in large urban areas, is underway.

    More efficient cities, by and for people

    Standards can be powerful agents of change. Their application allows cities to reduce energy costs and emissions through more efficient buildings, electricity grids, street lights, transportation systems, and energy and water networks at a time when cities already account for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

    But smart, sustainable cities are about more than just reduced energy costs and emissions—they also aim for the realization of a better quality of urban life for all. New intelligent solutions, underpinned by smart sensors, can improve the safety and well-being of inhabitants.

    Here are just a few examples: In Singapore, sensors and cameras build on an existing digital system to enable the government to send signals to drivers to improve traffic flow. In Kolkata, a social enterprise is using geographic information systems to map unplanned settlements, providing addresses and vital services for the inhabitants. In Quito, a mobile platform for women to report sexual harassment on the municipal public transport system is improving the way the city is policed. Digital technologies are also used to enhance citizen engagement and participation.

    A radical shift for resilient and sustainable societies

    The transformation towards resilient and sustainable societies requires the redesign of our cities as well as a radical shift in our patterns of production, consumption, and waste.

    Digital technologies give us an opportunity to develop more intelligent and inclusive urban systems where waste, costs, and ecological impacts are minimized, and where urban operations and processes, increasingly cognizant of the multiple stakeholders involved, can enhance quality of life for all. These technologies give us an opportunity to drive success not just on SDG 11, but on several other SDGs, demonstrating the significant impact that ICTs can have on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    But the transition towards smart, sustainable cities requires collective intention and increased collaboration between citizens, businesses, and governments. Together, we can design more efficient, ecological and people-centered cities, which drive, rather than hinder, individual well-being and sustainable development.

    ITU infographc

    The care, protection and conservation of animals is critical to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda

    Jack McQuibban, Jessica Bridgers and Bonnie Wyper

    Members of the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster of the NGO Major Group

    23 February 2018

    Jack McQuibban, Members of the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster of the NGO Major Group
    Jessica Bridgers, Member of the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster of the NGO Major Group
    Bonnie Wyper, Member of the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster of the NGO Major Group

    In the search for solutions to create sustainable and resilient societies, it is important to note the vital link between people and animals in many communities, whether for sustenance, livelihoods, health or security. When disasters strike, humans’ dependence on animals often means animal protection is a community priority. From protecting national parks whilst increasing local employment and food security in Malawi, to saving forest habitat for elephants in India through innovations that reduce the need for wood in local households, it is increasingly evident that engaging local communities in long-term sustainable development solutions simultaneously benefits communities.

    However, despite these opportunities, our current commodification of animals for human use is creating barriers to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda. Animal production uses one-third of the world’s fresh water and 45% of the world’s grain production; drives deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change; and pollutes water, air and soil. The way we treat animals is a multi-sectoral issue, deserving the attention of the sustainable development community. Without addressing the care, protection and conservation of animals, successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda will remain out of reach.

    For example, to implement SDG 6 we must reduce water pollution and increase water-use efficiency. The recent Global Land Outlook from UNCCD states that a meat-based diet uses 15 times more water than a plant-based diet. In China, animal agriculture is estimated to produce 40 times the nitrogen pollution of industrial factories, polluting water resources. Without addressing animal agriculture, we will not be able to ensure availability of water and sanitation for all.

    To implement SDG 12 we must, at minimum, halve global food waste. According to the World Economic Forum, the largest loss in the food supply chain is from animal feed, amounting to a net 20% of the calories produced per person per day. We must also ensure environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes. Beyond the food sector, the use of animals in research is a significant source of chemical and biohazardous waste resulting in air, water and soil pollution, despite the fact that non-animal alternatives are now often more reliable, cheaper, faster, and less wasteful, as well as offering better models and end results. Without replacing animal tests, meat and dairy production with humane and innovative non-animal alternatives, we will not ensure societies’ necessary transformation towards greater sustainable consumption and production patterns.

    To implement SDG 15, we must halt deforestation, degradation of habitats, and loss of biodiversity. It is widely recognized that cattle production is a leading deforestation driver and a recent international conference co-hosted by Worldwide Fund for Nature and Compassion in World Farming explored the irrefutable link between animal agriculture and biodiversity loss. Without addressing animal agriculture and land use, we will not achieve SDG 15.

    The closer we look, the more obvious the link between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of animals becomes. The World Organisation for Animal Health has recognized this, and there are now 181 countries which have agreed to implement animal welfare standards. Ahead of this year’s HLPF, it is imperative that we begin to address the care, protection and conservation of animals within the 2030 Agenda. World leaders, businesses and the NGO sector must recognise that taking this multi-sectoral approach, including animals in all decisions and policies related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, can accelerate the creation of sustainable and resilient societies worldwide.

    Responding to this need is a new Animal Issues Thematic Cluster within the NGO Major Group. This Cluster brings together experts on these issues from around the world who are ready and willing to form partnerships and collaborations with stakeholders to raise awareness about the urgency of addressing the care, protection and conservation of animals to meet the goals of the 2030 agenda. Together, we can ensure the implementation of the SDGs and enjoy truly resilient and sustainable societies for the environment, people and animals.

    By Jack McQuibban, Cruelty Free International; Jessica Bridgers, World Animal Net; and Bonnie Wyper, Thinking Animals United - Members of the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster of the NGO Major Group

    Mirna Ines Fernández, Global Youth Biodiversity Network, Global Youth Biodiversity Network Steering Committee Member

    Sustainable Development Goal 15 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

    Mirna Ines Fernández, Global Youth Biodiversity Network

    Global Youth Biodiversity Network Steering Committee Member

    8 March 2018

    The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity is a ten-year framework for action by all countries and stakeholders to safeguard biodiversity and the benefits it provides to people, and the implementation of its 20 ambitious but realistic targets is on its way at the national levels. Now, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by the 193 States Members of the United Nations, seem to add new challenges to the development and implementation of national policies for Sustainable Development, but after a closer analysis of the full scope of these goals and targets many synergies appear.

    The achievement of the SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss – will not be possible without taking into account the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. According to the Technical Note developed by the CBD, FAO, The World Bank, UNEP and UNDP titled Biodiversity and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDG 15 is related to half of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets (2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15 & 16).

    It is easy to point out how related are the indicators of this goal with some of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For example, the indicator 15.1.2 - proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type – is directly related to the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, which seeks that by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water will be conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures. Another examples is the SDG target 15.9 - By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts – which has the same objective as the Aichi Biodiversity Target 2, and its indicator is the progress towards national targets established in accordance with this Aichi Biodiversity Target of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

    The annual progress report of the Secretary-General on SDGs shows that despite improvements towards a sustainable management of forests and protected areas, the declining trends in land productivity, degradation, biodiversity loss, poaching and trafficking of wildlife are still concerning.

    The challenges identified by countries on their Voluntary National Reviews with regards to the SDG 15 are related to habitat loss, invasive alien species, poaching and trafficking of endangered species and products, lack of expertise and knowledge on complex issues such as Access and Benefit Sharing, integration and mainstreaming of ecosystem and biodiversity conservation into sectoral plans, land degradation, threats to mountain ecosystems and pollinators, to mention some of them. All of these challenges are also addressed within the full scope of the Aichi Biodiversity targets. When it comes to implementation, the challenges that have been repeatedly identified by countries include inadequate institutional capacities and the lack of participatory coordination frameworks in land and forestry management. These are quite common in countries with small teams in charge of the implementation of multiple environmental related commitments, and will need multi-stakeholder collaboration to succeed.

    Given the challenges of implementation that countries face, especially when the most biodiverse countries have also great challenges in the fight against poverty, it is essential to tackle these connected goals and targets with an integrated approach. The design of the SDGs has been done in a way that ensures that these and the Strategic Plan are mutually supportive and reinforcing, so the teams in charge of the development of national policies to ensure the achievement of this goal can be sure that their actions will support the advances on the related Biodiversity Targets.

    Synthesis of Voluntary National Reviews 2017: Division for Sustainable Development (DSD), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) United Nations
    Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General
    Biodiversity and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Technical Note from CBD, FAO, The World Bank, UNEP and UNDP.

    Water and Migration: Implications for Policy Makers

    Eva Mach, Environmental Sustainability Programme Officer, IOM;
    Christopher Richter, Migration Policy Officer, IOM;

    20 March 2018

    Eva Mach, Environmental Sustainability Programme Officer
    Christopher Richter, Migration Policy Officer,

    The international community has, for good reason, sought to emphasize the importance of migration as a global public policy issue.

    With heightened awareness of the multiple implications of poorly managed migration, and with the international community focused on developing a new global compact to address it, the opportunity for a more nuanced, more sophisticated approach to migration has presented itself.

    With this has come the opportunity to better understand migration and its links with other policy issues that at first thought might seem unrelated.

    Take, for example, the issue of water.

    Itself an issue of great significance – owing to its centrality to sustainable development and, indeed, to life as we know it – water, and its relationship to migration is an emerging field of study that requires attention and action.

    Although the links are not always straightforward, researchers have nonetheless begun to delve deeper into the issue in order to better chart the implications of these two policy domains and their intersections. It is an important part of the broader analysis of the links between migration, environment and climate change .

    So, what are the links between migration and water, and what can policymakers do to take account of them?

    In general, most analyses of migration and water issues focus on two separate factors. The first of these are the potential impacts of water scarcity on migration patterns. Simply put, a lack of water – whether as a result of drought, the most severe outcome of water scarcity – or other causes, is sometimes considered a factor that drives migration, in particular within countries or in some cases within regions.

    However, it is often difficult to pinpoint water scarcity as being a sole, or even a direct factor, driving migration. A range of other socio-economic, political and environmental issues, acting cumulatively, are more easily identifiable as being decisive than any single factor acting alone.

    Nevertheless, lack of water security does significantly increase the potential for migration, largely because of its impact on well-being and livelihoods.

    Already, the World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2016 has reported that water scarcity resulting from drought and groundwater depletion has led to increased rural to urban migration in parts of the Arab region, with potential for similar movements in Africa. Water stress was also identified as one of the key driving factors in Asia as well, with research available from Iraq , Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal .

    Quantitative data from IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has similarly begun to demonstrate the migratory impacts of drought in parts of Africa. The latest drought induced displacement figures collected by DTM during 2017 estimated more than 475,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ethiopia (December 2017), over 1.2 million individuals in Somalia (November 2016 - November 2017) and more than 14,000 in Madagascar (November 2017).

    In addition to the current levels of migration linked to water, climate change predictions suggest that people might also be forced to move because of changes in the hydrological cycle and as a result of increasing global temperatures .

    The second issue that is most commonly addressed in discussions on the migration and water nexus is the impact of migration on freshwater resources. This involves looking at both the environmental challenges of population growth attributable to migration, especially in the context of urbanization, and the environmental footprint of forced migration (displacement).

    The SDGs provide several entry points to address the links between migration and water in line with the 2030 Agenda’s overall ambition of leaving no one behind. First, a number of the SDGs provide guidance to address environmental migration related to water scarcity by building resilience in the face of environmental changes and ensuring human right to water, including:

    • Ending poverty by building resilience of vulnerable populations to extreme events under Goal 1.
    • Achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture and strengthening capacity for adaptation to environmental changes under Goal 2.
    • Reducing the number of people suffering from water scarcity under Goal 6.
    • Promoting the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies under Goal 10.
    • Reducing the number of deaths and people affected by disasters through effective disaster risk reduction (DRR) practices and strengthening development planning for resilient cities and settlements under Goal 11.
    • Building adaptive capacity in the face of climate change and integrating climate change measures in policies under Goal 13.

    Second, the environment related Sustainable Development Goals, and especially SDG 6 on sustainable management of water and sanitation can help align migration management and governance with an environmentally sensitive approach to ensure freshwater resources are sustainably managed.

    Such environmentally conscious migration policymaking and migration conscious water policymaking are key in a world in which urbanization rates keep rising, where levels of displacement are at their highest in decades and where the impacts of climate change on the water cycle have just started manifesting themselves.

    Policymakers have the power to act proactively to manage migration in the context of water scarcity as well as look after freshwater resources where migration takes place. This requires working across ministries and institutional silos in the way the 2030 Agenda requires.

    Human Diversity as a key factor for the implementation of SDG's

    Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes
    United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility

    1 May 2018

    Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility

    Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies in the 21st century must consider human diversity as a key factor, whose differences are not only socio-economic. Otherwise we could face the risk of a 2030 Agenda showing very remarkable results, but with a sustainable development that does not reach all.

    We must bear in mind that more than one billion persons in the world, a 15% of the  world's population, present one  or more types of physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments in the long term, which, when interacting with different barriers or obstacles, may hinder their full and effective participation in society.  I am specifically referring to the persons with disabilities (UN-CRPD, 2006).

    On the other hand, the advance demographic transition reveals that in the year 2017, there are 962 million persons who are 60 years of age or older, which correspond to 13 % of the world population,  with an annual  growth rate of 3%. It is estimated that, by the year 2030 there will be 1400 million of older persons in the world.  With regard to those persons who are above 80 years old, it is estimated that it will triple in a little over 30 years (WHO, 2017).

    Both sectors cannot continue to be qualified as "minorities". The latter concept is surpassed by the nomenclature of "diversity", which includes each and every one, without any kind of distinction. 

    Of course, both persons with disabilities as older persons, without considering their socio-economic situation, have often been only "spectators" of development.  These sectors aspire to acquire their individual autonomy and their social interaction with dignity, independence and freedom. 

    For this reason, there is great hope that the 2030 Agenda will ensure that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG No.11). This does not translate only into access ramps or "special bathrooms". The challenge is greater in terms of understanding the needs of our diverse, dynamic, interacting and evolving humanity. Therefore, it is essential to make visible or highlight a goal which is not written in the Agenda, which is universal design and accessibility of cities and human settlements, not only with regard to physical space, but also in terms of information, communication, transport, technology, procedures, products and services. This also reaches out to inclusive and accessible reconstruction after a natural disaster.

    Undoubtedly, the achievement of this objective is interrelated with the guarantee of access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG No.7). Today "smart" cities are projected, with ample technology, which feed on energy. Both for persons with disabilities, as well as for the older persons, these "achievements of modern times" should be a real horizon in their lives, which contribute to a concrete autonomy and independence, without becoming yet another barrier or obstacle for their full and effective inclusion in society.    

    What is the key to the correct implementation of these SDG´s?

    Undoubtedly, the key will be planning, and participative and integrated management in all countries.  Effective participation as an essential component for the process of the SDG´s, providing a range of reasonable adjustments, support for decision making and other forms of support for persons with disabilities and for the older persons for said participation, will strengthen the individual and collective awareness, the solidity of contemporary democracies, and ultimately the true sustainability of development.

    Therefore, in order to get from the macro level to that of the individual, a goal is established; to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely, reliable data (Goal 17.18), for which the consideration of human diversity must be very rigorous and precise, in order to truly capture the variety of needs of persons with disabilities as well as older persons, also assessing their subsequent level of satisfaction with the implementation of the SDG´s.  

    At the same time, we must highlight goal 17.19 which opens horizons in order to elaborate new indicators for measuring progress on sustainable development reaching persons with disabilities as well as older persons.

    To this respect, the exam performed on the HLPF countries, should go deeper into the key axis of human diversity, measuring concrete actions of "planning and participative management" with availability of reasonable adjustments and support which the persons may require. This is the only way we can truly celebrate the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda.

    Why getting bogged down in water, sanitation and hygiene can make all the difference

    Mr. Savio Carvalho
    Global Campaign Director, WaterAid

    8 May 2018

    Mr. Savio Carvalho Global Campaign Director, WaterAid

    A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting Ntinda Primary School in Kampala, Uganda. On reaching the school, I couldn’t fail to notice the toilet blocks at one end of the compound. They looked fresh and clean, but the headmaster showed us pictures of what they had replaced – four latrine stances, with rags and plastic hung across the stalls for privacy. The stench had been unbearable and the toilets unfit for use.

    In partnership with the school, WaterAid, Kampala Capital City Authority and African Evangelistic Enterprise built two sanitation blocks and washrooms as part of menstrual hygiene management activities. Attendance subsequently went up, with children and parents feeling more comfortable with the school’s sanitation facilities.

    Surely we have bigger problems?

    You may ask, ‘what is the big deal about investing in provision of safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene? Surely reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) entails tackling more pressing issues – such as eradicating poverty, ending all forms of inequalities or developing infrastructure – than making sure people have decent toilets and safe water?’

    But these basic needs – these human rights – have huge impacts on every facet of people’s lives, and we will end neither inequalities nor poverty without ensuring they are met. Living without these essentials is holding billions of people back in poverty.

    An estimated 844 million people do not have access to clean water, and 31% of people do not have access basic sanitation. 35% of healthcare centres in low- and middle-income countries have no water and soap for handwashing, and 30% of schools do not have access to clean water. Each year close to 300,000 children under five die from diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. WASH is a defining issue for people, prosperity and planet.  

    We must prioritise WASH

    Without addressing the essentials of WASH, no country or government will achieve any of the SDGs. Access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene form an essential foundation for progress on many of the goals. This foundation is ‘mission critical’ for achieving lasting progress on health, gender equality, education, nutrition, economic prosperity and reducing inequalities within and between countries.

    But, as simple and direct as it may sound, prioritising WASH has not yet had sufficient traction from political leaders, governments, donors and the private sector.

    In 2010, to give governments the necessary impetus to address water and sanitation, the UN General Assembly adopted the human rights to safe water and sanitation, making them legally binding in international law. But seven years on, despite this recognition, legal obligations and political commitment in the SDGs, the crisis remains.

    How to boost WASH progress

    The good news is that this is a solvable issue, and solutions are at hand. As seen in Ntinda primary school, children not only attended school but also started taking new messages on hygiene, such as washing hands and using soap, back to their families. The whole community felt the benefits. Our experience at WaterAid shows that, with political will at the national level, change is possible. 
    To meet SDG 6, urgent action is needed on three key areas: finance, integration and sustainability. On finance, funding gaps for national WASH plans must be closed, through taxes, tariffs and transfers, with additional WASH-specific support from donors, and safeguards for people who cannot afford fees. Improved integration demands embedding of WASH across policies and programmes, ensuring multi-sectoral connections. Sustainable change requires climate-resilient services, lasting behavioural change and adaptive management that involves rights-holders.

    The 2018 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) review of progress on Goal 6 should be a place for vibrant dialogue, action and accountability. In the run up to the HLPF, the UN Secretary General’s progress report on the SDGs and the UN-Water synthesis report on SDG 6, together with the HLPF-negotiated outcome document, must squarely and surely put the WASH crisis high on the political agenda, seeking urgent action.

    Let governments leave no stone unturned, and act to ensure these human rights are met for all. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

    Smart City Development Crucial for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals

    Hung Vo, UN Major Group for Children and Youth, UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board, Harvard Graduate School of Design;
    Kristopher Hartley, Lecturer in Public Policy, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne;

    15 May 2018

    Hung Vo, UN Major  Group for Children and Youth, UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board, Harvard Graduate School of Design
    Kristopher Hartley, Lecturer in Public Policy, School of Social and Political  Sciences, University of Melbourne,

    Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires evidence-based policies at both the national and local levels. The Voluntary National Reviews are crucial for measuring SDG progress, with data highlighting policy challenges and best practices. However, data collection capacities are not uniform across all Member States, raising the familiar mantra that “if we don’t count the poor, the poor don’t count.” The creation of the United Nations (UN) Inter-Agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, and other agency-led science and technology platforms is an encouraging sign that the UN understands the relationship between good data and development outcomes in building sustainable and resilient societies. The next step is equalizing technology capacities around the world.

    Achieving the SDGs, particularly Goal 11 on sustainable human settlements, requires technologies that equip decision-makers with context-informed data. This involves both formal and informal applications that strengthen government responsiveness by helping leaders understand societal needs, identify challenges, and design effective solutions. For example, monitoring technology is generating valuable data on access to housing, transport, and public space—all of which are targets of Goal 11. Harnessing such technologies can also help public watchdogs promote accountability, support good governance, and collaborate on achieving “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” cities.

    The application of technology to urban planning is driven not only by the increasing relevance and convenience of applications, but also by a deeper understanding among policymakers about technology’s transformative potential. Creative and context-based adaptation of “smart city” initiatives is generating new opportunities to integrate technology with the daily lives of urban residents; this is particularly valuable in developing countries where urbanization and population growth remain stubborn challenges. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) defines a smart city as:

    “an innovative city that uses information and telecommunication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects.”

    Vietnam provides instructive examples of the potential of smart city technologies, as the country’s population, income level, and digital penetration are representative of many developing countries. Vietnam continues to enjoy the strong economic growth prompted by the Doi Moi economic reforms of 1986, and the country’s cities are entering a new era of technology-based economic restructuring. As of 2017, nearly 20 of 63 provinces or special districts have initiated smart city pilot projects. For example, in 2015 the city of Da Nang received an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant to collect real-time data on bus routes and water quality.

    A recent study of 10 Vietnam cities found that e-government—the use of technology-based engagement tools in public policy—can help control corruption, a practice that has long inhibited national development and poverty eradication. The study also suggests that smart city development is as much about governance as hardware. Focusing only on technology and its efficiency dividends, while ignoring the institution-building and sound strategy-making that support economic growth, fails to liberate the full potential of smart city development. Technology cannot overcome bad policy.

    Many Member States are already making notable progress in smart city development. As many as 500 cities in China currently employ smart city technology in some capacity, while India’s Smart Cities Mission pledges to technologically upgrade 100 cities by 2020. In Africa, smart city development was the focus of the 2016 Transform Africa Summit, which convened 300 mayors from around the continent to discuss issues like mobile payments, public WiFi, and smart transport.

    There is growing worldwide acknowledgment of the role of smart city technology in national development. When applied to SDGs, urban technologies can stimulate economic growth that “leaves no one behind.” As such, the global community must ensure that the smart city agenda is not coopted for exclusive private gain, but supports broader social goals and extends benefits to even the most vulnerable populations. Member States should accept this challenge, as the smart city concept can be instrumental in realizing sustainable and resilient societies and in achieving Agenda 2030.

    Can ODA give private companies capital to reach the last-mile?

    Henri Dommel
    Director of Inclusive Finance
    UN Capital Development Fund

    23 May 2018

    Henri Dommel, Director of Inclusive Finance UN Capital Development Fund

    We cannot talk about economic development in Least Developed Countries without talking about agriculture. It underpins food security, employment, and exports in these countries.

    Smallholder farmers that typically work on plots of land smaller than 2 hectares are the unsung heroes that make up the vast majority of the agriculture workforce. Despite limited access to markets and basic services like electricity, information, they plough through and try to make ends meet.

    Nagayets, O. (2005). Small farms: current status and key trends. Paper prepared for the Future of Small Farms Research Workshop

    In recent times, however, farmers say living conditions have even worsened. Case in point: Uganda’s National Household Survey in 2016/2017. Farmers are faced head-on with the effects of climate change and market fluctuation.  

    Technology, while not a panacea, has the potential to level the playing field for smallholder farmers. It can help improve productivity in yields, accumulate assets, access information, and more.  
    The technology is there. But bringing it to the last-mile is a different business proposition with unpredictable returns. For companies that are traditionally focused on quick returns, triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial) is a nice-to-have but not a must-have.  Companies that are geared towards the triple bottom line from the get-go do not get very far because capital markets prefer to invest in opportunities that have quick returns.

    These companies need a nudge to see that there is tremendous opportunity to provide these products and services to smallholder farmers. Whether digital finance, solar or any other technology, smallholder farmers will pay for services if it is available, affordable, reliable and it offers them a real value proposition.

    The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), set up by the General Assembly in 1966 with a unique mandate to make investments in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), does just that. It “nudges” the private sector to go where they otherwise would not by providing de-risking capital and co-creating business models that has potential to be sustainable in the long-term.     

    In Uganda, Senegal, and Nepal, UNCDF works closely with a range of market actors from agriculture commodity off-takers that employ more than 150,000 smallholder farmers, large telcos, banks to fintech start-ups that incubate different ways of bringing digital financial services closer to smallholder farmers at scale. In Nepal and Uganda, we co-invest in solar companies that want to modernize farming through better irrigation, drying, and refrigeration powered by the sun.

    The private sector will drive the future of off-grid solar energy and digital solutions. But like many innovations before it, public funds will play a key role in catalysing that future. Official Development Assistance (ODA) can overcome the capital gaps and invest in riskier ventures.

    Benefits go beyond leveraging public funds. When asked, many companies we have invested in point out the challenge in building local partnerships or accessing and analysing data to understand market contexts. An individual company cannot solve these issues. With our existing local partnerships and pool of knowledge resources, we can provide the support needed for companies to succeed.

    At the same time, UNCDF is leveraging its research and data capabilities so that we as market actors can be more data-driven in how we design and measure our product and service offerings for low-income people. For example, our year-long research on more than 500 customers of solar companies in Uganda provides insights on how people purchase and use solar solutions, thus offering insights on how companies can better market solar products to increase purchases. In Uganda, we also developed a financial inclusion dashboard that gives development partners real-time insight on the penetration and usage of mobile money in the country (at national, district and tower levels) using data records from the largest mobile network operators in Uganda. It enables UNCDF and other development partners to better identify digital penetration and usage and assess high-impact opportunities for smaller companies to focus their energy on.

    Finally, our experience suggests companies need blended finance offerings – grants, loans, and guarantees - to satisfy the different growth stage of businesses. The UNCDF LDC Investment Platform is an important mechanism to meet this need by supplementing UNCDF’s grant instrument with loans and guarantees.

    Never has the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies been more possible. The technology and financing mechanisms are at our disposal. The private sector will lead the charge while ODA can act as “patient capital”.  Most of all, the immediate benefits to rural communities make it a goal worth chasing.

    The 2030 Agenda needs to be owned locally if we want it to succeed

    Ms. Emilia Saiz,
    United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

    30 May 2018

    Ms. Emilia Saiz Secretary-General, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

    The adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent an unprecedented milestone and are a feat to be proud of, as well as a defining moment of what we can do if and when we collaborate, and they represent a bold step forward from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), being more universal in their approach.

    Proof of this universality is the adoption of SDG 11, a stand-alone urban goal, a triumph which exemplifies how the recommendations of our constituency have been acknowledged by the international community.

    There is still work to do in terms of recognition and full involvement of local and regional governments, however: not just in the development of strategies to achieve the SDGs but also in reporting what has been achieved. We need to involve more spheres of government in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda if we truly aspire to make it a reality.

    Localization: A silent constructive tsunami

    There has been a silent constructive tsunami taking place ever since the Agenda was adopted. Local governments are not only taking ownership of the agenda but are also implementing it at the local level and, more often than not, doing so without the means they need to face such a crucial task.

    Cities, provinces and regions around the world are revising their strategic plans and aligning them with the SDGs. They are organizing awareness raising workshops to share the new agenda with the population. They are training trainers in order to understand the link between what they do and what the 2030 Agenda provides.

    This is why we believe that localization (taking into account local realities and communities throughout the process of implementing the SDGs) is such a key issue for local and global development alike.

    In order to provide a hands-on experience on localizing the SDGs, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, facilitated by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Habitat, have made a toolkit for localizing the SDGs, which has been essential in making progress towards the implementation of the global agenda.

    There are three critical aspects for local governments when embracing the SDGs:

    • They enable the work around service provision to be put in the map of the broader development agenda discussion and to renew relations with communities.
    • They establish links between different sectors in ways that had not been previously done and that will impact future planning.
    • They allow having a clear picture of the kind of competences and resources that will be needed to achieve the agenda.

    It is through democratic processes that communities can decide, together, where to target investment and action in order to achieve the best results. Political leadership is needed to bring everyone around the table, resolve potential conflicts, and coordinate action with regional and national initiatives.

    HLPF 2018: a defining moment?

    The hundreds of thousands of local governments around the world are organized in a century-old movement composed of associations with representation at the national, regional and global levels. These associations hold now the key to ensure knowledges and practices are shared but also to guarantee that the voices of local leaders are heard internationally, especially in venues such as the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) where last year local and regional governments presented the report National and sub-national governments on the way towards the localization of the SDGs”, available here.

    Local and regional governments’ networks are also essential in developing partnerships with other organizations which can effectively ensure the achievement of SDGs. This is why have continuously supported the Local2030 Hub and find it instrumental to have a place where all UN Agencies discuss action at local level with other stakeholders.

    We hope 2018 will be a defining moment for both the visualization and resourcing of localization. For the first time, the High Level Political Forum will count with a Local and Regional Governments Forum. A delegation of around 100 mayors and local governments’ representatives are expected to attend and share their vision of the progress made and the kind of actions needed to achieve the joint expectations.

    Addressing the global housing crisis, defining new governance mechanisms, enhancing support to those most vulnerable -especially in view of climate change-, bridging inequalities and redefining development finance will be some of the key aspects brought to the table. We are eager to prove that local governments hold the key that unlocks the global challenges, and that we have arrived at the HLPF to stay.

    Science, Technology and Innovation for SDGs: The Driver to Realize “Leave No One Behind”

    H.E. Dr. Hoshino Toshiya
    Co-Chair of the Third Annual Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals
    Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

    4 June 2018

    H.E. Dr. Hoshino Toshiya, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

    The United Nations’ third annual Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, or “STI Forum”, is coming up on 5-6 June 2018 at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The STI Forum is a concrete and action-oriented forum, where various stakeholders, including representatives from governments, industry and civil society, scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs, can all come together to discuss how to promote the use of science, technology and innovation (STI) as tools to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Six goals out of the 17 SDGs, along with other relevant topics, will be on the agenda this year, these goals are: clean water and sanitation (SDG #6), affordable and clean energy (#7), sustainable cities and communities (#11), responsible consumption and production (#12), life on land (#15), and partnerships for the goals (#17). Other topics include a chronological plan (“STI Roadmaps”) to guide the efforts of different stakeholders, and the impact of rapid technological change in science and technology on society and the economy. The Forum will also provide an opportunity to introduce innovators and entrepreneurs to funders interested in financing ideas that will have positive impacts toward sustainable development, and governments looking for innovative policy solutions.

    Why STI?

    The SDGs, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, are a global plan which aims to end all forms of poverty, reduce inequality, cope with climate change, build a sustainable society by the year 2030, and “Leave No One Behind”. Science, technology and innovation are indispensable means for providing solutions to the challenges facing the world today while making the best use of limited resources in order to achieve these goals.

    Let me give an example. Today, approximately 20% of the world’s population does not have access to electricity. In many places, people rely on firewood and kerosene lamps for lighting. Now, efforts are being made to provide a solution in such places using science and technology; under one such project, solar panels are being placed at kiosks in local communities, from which people can borrow bright, energy-efficient, and long-lasting LED lanterns charged with solar electricity. Thanks to these lanterns, children can now study at home after school, families can make longer use of night time hours, people can reduce the burden of securing firewood, and even have chance to start new local businesses in their villages. The power of science and technology has brought these people better and “brighter” lives.
    STI can thus be useful for achieving the SDGs. At the same time, the benefits of science and technology must be for everyone, not just for some. The guiding principle of the SDGs is to “Leave No One Behind", and this principle applies to the utilization of STI as well. Furthermore, it is necessary to pay attention to inter-linkages such as synergies and trade-offs between respective SDGs. Regarding these inter-linkages, the International Council for Science (ICSU) outlined key interactions between the areas of food security (SDG #2), health (#3), energy (#7), and the oceans (#14) along with other goals in its 2017 report.

    The Importance of Roadmaps

    For the sake of efficiency, stakeholders should avoid implementing their SDGs-related measures sporadically and without coordination. If, on the other hand, they work together towards common objectives based on STI roadmaps, they can share their progress and achievements, thereby making their efforts more systematic. Discussions on these roadmaps will take place at the STI Forum. Let us hope for good progress.

    Making STI a Real "Deciding Factor"

    “STI for the SDGs" is not yet a concept familiar to many people. We should endeavor to develop this into a global effort. Japan, for its part, advocates a human-centered approach to leveraging STI to solve various social challenges, which it calls “Society 5.0”. Though STI has always played an important role in social innovation, it is the power of people, when they are empowered and supported to fully realize their potential, which makes innovation possible. I am, together with my co-chair from Mexico, committed to bringing the upcoming STI Forum to a success and realizing a world that will truly "Leave No One Behind".

    The Third Annual Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (III STI Forum) week: An opportunity to discover local and latest science and technology innovations towards the achievement of sustainable and inclusive societies

    H.E. Ambassador Juan Sandoval Mendiolea
    Co-Chair of the Third Annual Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals
    Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations

    5 June 2018

    H.E. Ambassador Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations

    Unlike other periods of great transformation, today’s main global trends are linked to innovative and emerging technologies that are having an immediate and deep impact, bringing both opportunities and challenges to the way we live but mainly to the way we are planning as nation and regions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The next Third Multi-stakeholder Forum on science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development Goals (III STI Forum) to be held at the UN headquarters on June 5-6, co-chaired by Mexico alongside with Japan, will be surrounded by events starting on the 4th of June and continuing on the 7th of June that will bring us the opportunity to learn from a series of multi-stakeholder conversations and discover, understand, and learn about faster and more efficient technological tools to achieve sustainable and resilient societies by 2030. Many of the events will take place for the first time across the week!

    Who is invited?

    As a main engine of this momentum, the 2030 Agenda not only represents a paradigm shift to approach development universally by providing an overarching framework that sets out the objectives and concrete targets required to tackle our main global challenges. It also launched in 2015, together with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Technology Facilitation Mechanism which includes the STI Forum as one of its main pillars. This yearly opportunity to connect platforms of innovators, enterprises and start-ups, scientists and academy, governments at all levels, women and youth, and the whole of the UN development agencies, will have its third edition next week in order to find ways and tools to improve their livelihoods.

    A look into the future

    Among the main issues of our discussions, Mexico has put forward as a main issue the review of the impact of rapid technological change on the SDG’s. An issue that has increasingly caught the attention of leaders all over the world and that has become the fourth priority of Secretary General Guterres. We believe that more understanding and partnerships are needed to grasp the opportunities of the latest technological developments, such as AI, robotics, bio and neuro-engineering, new materials, blockchain, geo-engineering, virtual and augmented reality technologies, among others. We have identified how these technologies are all connected and complement one another, having a direct impact on the way we all live.

    Other practical technological solutions

    The STI Forum will also bring successful local technological developments that can be replied and will recognize 10 young innovators for their outstanding work. Other sessions will focus on capacity building for STI national planning and will benefit from the participation of 10 newly elected eminent experts, while special sessions will be dedicated to spurring the implementation of SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17, through the fulfillment of its targets through science, technology and innovation. Recommendations on public policies will be a wanted and concrete result of the Forum, which will be reflected in our co-chairs Summary Report.

    Expected outcomes

    Furthermore, being Mexico together with Japan co-chairs of the following STI Forum for 2019, our job will be to keep open the STI doors for youth and all stakeholders and review as well, after four editions, how we can leverage development through science and sustainable technology and innovation.

    It is time to create strong multilateral alliances based on human centered innovations and make the Agenda 2030 a reality, not leaving anyone behind.

    Access to clean energy and accelerated green industrial development can deliver sustainable and resilient societies

    Li Yong
    Director General
    United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

    20 June 2018

    Li Yong, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization(UNIDO)

    At the core of the mandate of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development is growth within an environmentally sustainable framework. Thus, we must decouple industrial activities from negative environmental impacts and natural resource use.

    In line with the Agenda 2030 principle of “leave no one behind”, we must promote equal opportunities and an equitable distribution of the benefits of industrialization to all countries, all people, and all parts of society.

    Against this backdrop, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7, 11, 12 and 17 is vital for the achievement of inclusive and sustainable industrial development which lies at the heart of SDG 9 – and vice versa. While much progress has been made in implementing the SDGs, we still need to intensify efforts to promote sustainable industrial development, provide clean and affordable energy for all, develop solutions for sustainable and thriving cities, and reduce the environmental footprint of production and consumption.

    The creation of sustainable and resilient societies is inextricably linked with industrial development. This interlinking is especially pertinent in relation to SDG 7.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that unless there is a dramatic switch from current practices, greenhouse gas emissions from industry will increase by somewhere between 50 to 150 percent by 2050. At the same time, industry is an important driver in the development of technical solutions and business models in the field of renewable energies and other clean technologies that support the implementation of SDG 7.

    In May 2018, UNIDO and its partners convened a special session of the Vienna Energy Forum which brought together over 430 experts and activists. They discussed SDG 7 and generated inputs ahead of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

    It has been emphasized that there are three emerging mega-trends shaping today’s energy landscape: decarbonization, digitization and decentralization. In this context, we must:

    • dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from industry by increasing energy efficiency and switching from fossil fuels to alternatives;

    • use modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digital technologies to efficiently manage energy systems that have large shares of renewables and depend on multiple renewable energy producers;

    • move towards decentralized energy systems which entail decentralized energy generation and storage, as well as community involvement.

    The advent of new climate technologies and the urgent need to move towards a low-carbon development path is driving the growth of new green industrial sectors, creating new jobs and new opportunities. But entrepreneurs and start-ups in developing countries need support so that they can develop innovations and take their place on the global market. Therefore, to empower and catalyze entrepreneurial eco-systems for climate innovation in developing countries, we must urgently:

    • support innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises;

    • ensure equal and equitable access to and control over sustainable energy services for women and men;

    • make technology transfers to developing countries and emerging economies more effective by sharing knowledge, developing capacity in energy-related projects, and fostering robust science, technology and innovation policy frameworks.

    In order to ensure vital partnerships between government, the private sector, industry and academia to support the integration and application of clean technologies, we have to:

    • support local innovation hubs for clean technologies;

    • work with city administrations to support the retrofit of existing industries and the implementation of innovative digital technologies and policies;

    • introduce funding options to enable investment for low-carbon infrastructure and the deployment of leap-frogging technologies;

    If we can take these steps, which are instrumental to increasing access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all and to accelerating inclusive and sustainable industrial development, then we will be well on the way to establishing sustainable and resilient societies.