Secretary-General presents Synthesis Report

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented an advance unedited version of his synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda to the General Assembly at an informal briefing on 4 December.

To access the report, see what the Secretary-General said to press after the presentation and for further information, see the Sustainable Development Platform:

The Division for Sustainable Development and the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) have created an online platform for civil society to compile and share their views and positions on the SG's synthesis report.

The platform can be accessed through the following webpage:

Draft modalities for negotiating the post-2015 development agenda published

On 12 December, the co-facilitators for the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda shared a revised draft decision on the modalities for these negotiations, based on consultations with Member States.

In this draft, the co-facilitators, Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya, and David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland, suggest that the intergovernmental process should be open, transparent and inclusive and guided by the rules of procedure and established practices of the General Assembly. The process of intergovernmental negotiations will build on successful practices from the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, and will include inputs from all stakeholders, including civil society, scientific and knowledge institutions, parliaments, local authorities and the private sector.

The outcome document, to be adopted at a Summit in September 2015, would contain the following main components: A declaration; Sustainable Development Goals and targets; Means of Implementation (including on technology facilitation) and a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development and a framework for monitoring and review of implementation.

The draft decision reiterates that the proposal of the Open Working Group on SDGs will be the main basis for integrating sustainable development goals into the post-2015 development agenda.

It also calls for effective coordination between the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda and the preparatory process for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

The draft decision includes an indicative roadmap which suggests the following time-frame:

  • 19-21 January 2015 – Stocktaking
  • 17-20 February 2015 – Declaration
  • 23-27 March 2015 – Sustainable Development Goals and targets
  • 20-24 April 2015 – Framework for monitoring and review of implementation
  • 18-22 May 2015 – Means of Implementation and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
  • 22-25 June 2015 – Finalization of the outcome document
  • 20-24 July 2015 and 27-31 July 2015 – Finalization of the outcome document.

As overarching theme for the September Summit, the draft decision suggests ‘Transforming the world: Realizing the post-2015 development agenda’.

New million dollar DESA Grant to promote sustainable energy

“The well-being of our people and economy, and the health of our environment, all depend on safe, clean, secure, sustainable and affordable energy,” said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, at the first meeting of the Advisory Council for a newly created UN DESA Grant to promote sustainable energy on 8 December.

During the Rio+20 Conference, Member States realized that there had been success stories in advancing sustainable development, but that the international community is not doing enough to replicate and scale up best practices and lessons learned from successful experiences. They encouraged the UN system to do more to identify and publicize best practices and lessons learned, in collaboration with Governments, business, civil society and other stakeholders.

As a response, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), with funding support from the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a Hong Kong-based NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC, has launched the project “Powering the Future We Want – Recognizing Innovative Practices in Energy for Sustainable Development”. This initiative seeks to replicate and scale up best practices and lessons learned from successful sustainable energy experiences.

“At the Rio+20 Conference, Member States recognized the critical importance of access to sustainable, modern energy services for poverty eradication, public health and in meeting basic human needs” said Mr Wu. “They also recognized that improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy and cleaner and energy-efficient technologies are critical for addressing climate change,” he continued.

The ‘Powering the Future We Want’ initiative therefore offers an annual one million US dollar Grant to institutions or individuals that have demonstrated leadership and innovation in promoting sustainable energy. The award does not simply recognize past achievement, but the recipients of the Grant are expected to apply the funds to furthering their best practices and to building capacity in developing countries, thus furthering sustainable energy.

The first meeting of the Advisory Council for the Grant took place on 5 December at UN Headquarters in New York. The Council discussed selection criteria and modalities for the Grant, which are expected to be published before the end of the year. An important selection criteria will be for recipients of the grant to outline how they will use the award to further best practices and capacity building.

Applicants will also need to demonstrate that they have achieved, through leadership and innovative initiatives, tangible results and impacts at the local, national, regional or global levels in advancing energy for sustainable development.

The Advisory Council for the Grant consists of 12 members from UN entities, academic institutions, business and civil society groups. Membership is for one year, renewable annually. Each year, the Advisory Council will review and rank the applications and submit the top three candidates to the High-level Steering Committee, for Grant consideration and decision. The High-level Steering Committee consists of the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, the Executive Directive of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretary-General of China Energy Fund Committee and further UN entities.

Harnessing transport investments while reducing pollutants for sustainable future

With trillions of dollars expected to be invested in transport infrastructure and air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions rising, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tasked his High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport with finding viable solutions to promote public health and safety, environmental protection and economic growth through sustainable transport.

Comprised of Government, civil society and private sector leaders, the Advisory Group will work with Governments, transport providers, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and others to promote and accelerate the implementation of sustainable transport.

“The opportunities for sustainable transport are profound and we must take action,” Mr. Ban said as he met with a number of the Group’s members. “Transport is vital for everyone, and with the right mix of solutions sustainable transport will help us to realize a better future by helping to reduce poverty while protecting the planet and driving economic growth.”

Mr. Ban requested that the Group ensure the close alignment of transport with inclusive and equitable growth, social development, and environmental protection.

The establishment of the Group reflects the importance of sustainable transport for addressing major global challenges. Transport accounts for more than one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and is projected to grow to one-third by 2050. Transport is the main source of air pollutants, which lead to seven million premature deaths every year.

Population growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world's urban population by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. Poor and vulnerable groups need transport accessibility to get to jobs, schools, health care facilities and other public services. The Group aims to make sure that the transport dimension is recognized when Governments devise strategies on fighting poverty.

Safe and efficient maritime transport is the backbone of world trade, with 90 per cent of goods shipped by sea routes. Moreover, transport is one of the few growth sectors, estimated to attract trillions of US dollars in infrastructure investment in the coming decades. Exploring how these investments can result in sustainable infrastructure is one of the issues that will be discussed by the Group.

The Advisory Group held its first meeting on 17 November, and agreed to its priority areas and work plan for its three-year term. Among other things, the Group will look for practical ways to unlock the potential of sustainable transport to contribute to poverty alleviation, sustainable growth and sustainable urbanization. It was noted that to realize this goal, all modes of transport must be considered, including aviation, marine, ferry, rail and road.

The Group agreed to address a whole range of issues essential to transport, including access, accessibility, affordability, efficiency, climate and environmental impacts, public health and safety. It also decided to look at cross-cutting issues such as education, gender, finance, technology transfer, and capacity building.

To accomplish its goals, the Group will provide a global message and recommendations on sustainable transport. It will launch a “Global Transport Outlook Report” by July 2016 to provide analytical support for these recommendations and help mobilize action and initiatives in support of sustainable transport on the global, regional, local and sector levels, with a particular focus on urbanization.

The Group will support the organization of the Global Sustainable Transport Conference that will be convened by the Secretary-General towards the end of 2016. It will promote the integration of sustainable transport in relevant intergovernmental processes, including by making recommendations on the formulation and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

SD2015 workshop reaches out to national and regional Civil Society platforms

As part of the SD2015 programme, the Division for Sustainable Development (DSD), CIVICUS and Stakeholder Forum organized a workshop during the International Civil Society Week (ICSW) in Johannesburg, South Africa, which took place from 19-25 November.

The workshop, which attracted Member States and civil society alike, served to enhance outreach to regional and national Civil Society organization platforms in the lead up to the Post-2015 negotiations. The ICSW brought together over 400 civil society actors, particularly from Africa and Latin America.

Among other things the workshop provided a timely opportunity to give updates on key Post-2015 processes and on how to build bridges between the work at the national, regional and global levels toward the implementation of the new development agenda after September 2015.

Representative from DSD, the Secretary General’s office and CIVICUS engaged in an interactive dialogue with civil society and discussed how Major Groups and other stakeholders and civil society can engage in the post 2015 process. They also highlighted the important work of the SD2015 national partners who inform national level constituents on the international development processes and work towards building ownership and understanding of the SDGs at the local and national levels.

Emphasis was also placed on the importance of engagement of Major Groups and other stakeholders and civil society in the implementation, review and monitoring of the Post-2015 agenda, and in the High-Level Political Forum.

November edition of ‘Natural Resources Forum’ now online

The November edition of ‘Natural Resources Forum, a United Nations Sustainable Development Journal’, is now online. This edition contains the following articles:

  • Market-Based Conservation: Aligning Static Theory with Dynamic Systems;
  • Has the Clean Development Mechanism Assisted Sustainable Development?;
  • The relationship between sustainable development and resource use from a geographic perspective;
  • The paradox of the modernisation of urban water systems in Europe: Intrinsic institutional limits for sustainability;
  • Economics of Salt-induced Land Degradation and Restoration;
  • Local people’s perceptions for participating in conservation in a heritage site: A case study of Wuyishan Scenery District, Southeastern China.

SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

On 10 September 2014, the UN General Assembly decided that the Report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals would be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post 2015 development agenda. The second of the seventeen proposed SDGs is “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”. The following suggested targets and indicators are associated with the goal:

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

2.1 by 2030 end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round

2.2 by 2030 end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025 the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older persons

2.3 by 2030 double the agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale food producers, particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets, and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment

2.4 by 2030 ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality

2.5 by 2020 maintain genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at national, regional and international levels, and ensure access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge as internationally agreed

2.a increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development, and plant and livestock gene banks to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular in least developed countries

2.b. correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets including by the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round

2.c. adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives, and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility

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