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General Assembly embarks on historic task of finalizing the post-2015 agenda

"Today, we embark on the critical task of negotiating an ambitious, inclusive and transformative post-2015 development agenda," said UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa as he opened the stocktaking session of the intergovernmental post-2015 development agenda negotiations, which took place from 19 to 21 January at UN Headquarters in New York. "We have a heavy but noble responsibility to finalize the new agenda on a strict timeline, so that our Heads of State and Government can adopt it during the forthcoming Summit scheduled for 25-27 September," he said. The President also reminded Member States that a final push would have to be made to achieve the MDGs.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled the overarching message of his Synthesis report: "We need a new and universal compact that is people-centered and planet-sensitive. It must encompass the fight against poverty and inequality and against gender-based discrimination; it must include those who do not enjoy full participation in society; and it must be based on safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions led by women and men from all backgrounds."

ECOSOC President Martin Sajdik outlined the key role that the ECOSOC system and the HLPF will play in the follow-up and review of the new agenda, and noted the importance of communication and partnerships of all kind for its success.

. During the session, member states commented on the possible four parts of the outcome document of the September Summit: the Declaration; Sustainable Development Goals; means of implementation and Global Partnership for Sustainable Development; and follow up and review. A number of distinguished speakers shared their views on these four elements, their statements can be found on the SD Knowledge Platform. During an interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other Stakeholders, the conclusions of the Stakeholder Preparatory Forum for the post-2015 negotiations, held on 16 January, were presented to member states. The topics discussed ranged from the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report to the review mechanism and means of implementation.

In their concluding remarks on the last day of the session, the co-facilitators of the negotiations, Ambassador David Donoghue of Ireland and Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, noted the constructive engagement of member states and the large turnout of civil society and major groups.

Ambassador Donoghue, who presented the co-facilitator’s concluding remarks, observed that member states recognized the Open Working Group’s SDG proposal as far reaching and ambitious achievement with broad legitimacy. Contact had been made with the UN Statistical Commission who will present for member state’s reflection a draft of indicative global indicators linked to the Goals and targets.

The co-facilitators concluded that member states favour a Declaration which is comprehensive in scope but also concise, inspirational and visionary in its terms. Many delegates would like to see the Declaration reflect the integrated and universal nature of the agenda and for it to reaffirm core values and principles.

An overriding message heard regarding means of implementation and a Global Partnership was that it will be impossible to deliver on the SDGs without an even higher level of ambition in respect to both. Many member states reiterated the importance of an open, transparent and inclusive follow up and review framework for the delivery of the post-2015 development agenda. Some thought that no target should be considered met unless met by all relevant income and other groupings, especially the most vulnerable.

February session of post-2015 negotiations focuses on the Declaration

The second session of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda is taking place from 17-20 February. The focus is on the Declaration component of the post-2015 development agenda. An Element's Paper for the discussion on the Declaration has been published by the Co-Facilitators and can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

New $US 1 million UN Grant for leadership and innovation in sustainable energy is now accepting applications

A new programme that will offer $US 1 million to institutions or individuals that have demonstrated leadership and innovation in energy for sustainable development has been launched by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with funding support from the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a Hong Kong-based NGO.

The new grant programme "Powering the Future We Want" Recognizing Leadership and Innovative Practices in Energy for Sustainable Development will provide $US 1 million to grant recipients every year. Potential recipients will be expected to apply the funds to capacity building that will replicate and scale up their successful experiences.

"We expect the recipient to identify lessons learned and underlying factors of best practices, and share these lessons with decision-makers and practitioners from other countries, through capacity building activities," said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

Grant applicants will have to outline their proposed capacity-building activities, illustrate their existing sustainable energy projects and demonstrate how their project has contributed to leadership, vision and commitment in promoting sustainable energy and improving living standards. Applicants will also need to demonstrate that their project has promoted international cooperation in energy and capacity building and furthered the integration of energy for sustainable development strategies.

Today some 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and some 2.7 billion people rely on biomass for cooking and heating. At the same time, energy-related greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change, as much as 80 per cent of emissions in many economies. The "Powering the Future We Want" initiative seeks to help promote universal access to modern energy services while reducing energy-related emissions.

'Powering the Future' We Want is a follow-up initiative to the 2012 Rio+20 Conference, at which Member States had called for increased dissemination of success stories and capacity building to replicate and scale up best practices in sustainable development, in collaboration with Governments, business, civil society and other stakeholders.

The grant seeks to encourage scientific and technological innovations in energy. It aims to foster leadership initiatives and innovative actions that improve access to modern energy services, increase efficient use of energy, and enhance availability of new, renewable and advanced energy technologies, while addressing economic, social and environmental sustainability.

The grant recipient will be identified through a competitive review and selection process involving an Advisory Council and a High Level Steering Committee, with participation from relevant UN system organizations.

"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 Mr Wu at the first meeting of the Advisory Council of the grant. This cross-cutting nature of the global energy challenge reflects the broader theme for the year 2015, a year of global action in which the world seeks to adopt a new sustainable development agenda and to reach a global agreement on climate change, recognizing these issues as two sides of the same coin.

Applications must be submitted in English by 31 March 2015.

High-level Political Forum on sustainable development 2015

In 2015, the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development will meet for the third time since its creation. The HLPF was established as a key platform to promote and track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will be adopted in September. It will reflect on the implementation and review of the SDGs and Rio+20, and notably on how it can best deliver on its role. The theme will be: "Strengthening integration, implementation and review - the HLPF after 2015."

The 2015 meeting will be held from Friday, 26 June through Wednesday, 8 July. The three-day ministerial segment will take place from Monday, 6 July, through Wednesday, 8 July. Governments, UN system and other organizations, as well as the major groups and other stakeholders of civil society will participate.

The HLPF is the main United Nations platform dealing with sustainable development. It provides political leadership and guidance; follows up and reviews progress in implementing sustainable development commitments and addresses new and emerging challenges.

The HLPF meets every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly, and annually under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. This year’s meeting is under ECOSOC auspices

Inaugural Women's Health and Development Forum

The Inaugural 'High Level Forum on Women's Health and Development took place on 11 and 12 February 2015 in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York. Organized by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust (RASIT) in partnership with UN DESA, the Forum aims to advance the health, wealth and empowerment of women in all of their diverse communities.

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