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Public invited to review crowdsourced briefs for Global Sustainable Development Report

In 2014, UN DESA invited scientists and researchers around the world to submit science briefs that highlight research findings or solutions relating to sustainable development, for the attention of policy-makers. Selected briefs would be included in a chapter of the 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report, which will be presented at the third session of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), taking place from 26 June to 8 July 2015.

In the spirit of transparency, all published briefs are now open for public review along specified guiding questions, which will be taken into consideration in deciding which briefs will be included in the 2015 report.

The guiding questions for the public review are:

  • Scientific: is the brief factual and based on peer-reviewed literature?
  • Balanced approach: does it consider a wider range of scientific perspectives? Does it reflect economic, social and environmental aspects?
  • Novelty: does it present an issue that is typically not adequately considered in the global sustainable development policy debate?
  • Effectiveness: does the brief provide useful suggestions for policy makers? Does it outline alternative policy options?
  • Accessibility: is the brief well-written and easily understandable?

The public review is hosted on by 31 March 2015.

The Global Sustainable Development Report is a United Nations publication that seeks to bring together the range of existing assessments of sustainable development and review global progress and future pathways in an integrated way, taking into account the perspectives of scientific communities across the globe.

“The Report is envisaged as one instrument of the newly created High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development that can help strengthen the science-policy interface,” said Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo at the presentation of the prototype Global Sustainable Development Report at the second session of the High Level Political Forum in 2014.

Member States and Stakeholders discuss vision for post-2015

The post 2015 negotiating session held from 17-20 February 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York focused on the Declaration component of the new development agenda. The Declaration “will be an important part of the future framework and indeed of the outcome document” of the post 2015 agenda, said Co-Facilitator David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland. Co-Facilitator Macharia Kama, Permanent Representative of Kenya, stressed that the Declaration should be visionary and “speak to the future”.

In the run up to the session, the Co-Facilitators had circulated an Elements Paper to animate discussions among Member States, which was turned into a Discussion Paper reflecting comments made by the delegations in the course of the session. During the last two days of the meeting, delegations expressed their views on the Discussion Paper.

There was wide agreement that the Declaration should be concise, visionary, ambitious, actionable, communicable and simple. Many delegations stressed that it should lay out a collective vision and clearly argue why we need the new development agenda. Many also said that it should show how the agenda responds to the challenges facing the world today and convey the assurance that ‘no one will be left behind’, be it vulnerable groups or countries in special situations. Furthermore, a number of delegations underlined that poverty eradication should be highlighted as overarching objective and sustainable development as the way forward.

An interactive dialogue with Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) was held on 19 February, during which they commented in detail on the Elements Paper. The Co-Facilitators lauded the organization and contributions of MGoS during the session and reiterated their commitment to continuing such dialogues moving forward.

Next to the Declaration, the four part post-2015 development agenda will consist of sustainable development goals, targets and indicators; means of implementation and global partnership for sustainable development; and a follow-up and review framework.

Statements from the four day session, the Co-facilitator’s Discussion Paper and further information can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. The third session of the Post-2015 intergovernmental negotiations will be held from 23 - 27 March 2015 and focus on the sustainable development goals and targets.

Capacity Development Workshop on Mainstreaming the SDG on Energy

To support the post-2015 development agenda, the Division for Sustainable Development in partnership with the UN Statistics Division, UN-Energy, Sustainable Energy for All, the World Bank and the International Energy Agency organized a workshop on capacity development for "Mainstreaming Energy Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Targets and Indicators into Statistical Programmes of Selected Latin American Countries."

The three-day workshop took place at the UN Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama City, Panama from 4-6 February 2015. Participating countries were Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala and Panama. There were 34 workshop participants, including 16 women. The country representatives learned about the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, the proposal for a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and corresponding targets on energy and the leading international efforts on energy statistics and indicators. The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss the status of national statistical programmes and the challenges and advantages for adopting and adapting the global energy SDGs, targets and indicators at the national level. The participants made national presentations and discussed strengths and common challenges they face in the collection of data and in the implementation of national and international statistical commitments and programmes.

At the conclusion, many participants expressed their appreciation for this capacity development event which provided a valuable setting for the exchange of statistical knowledge and lessons learned at the global, regional and national level. Many participants also asked for future international support and more capacity building activities on collecting and processing data for energy statistics and for building better information systems. DSD is planning the implementation of similar capacity development workshops for developing countries in Asia and Africa.

Water Decade culminates in exhibit to highlight progress and key water areas of SDGs

As the ‘Decade for Action: Water for Life’ concludes at the end of 2015, an exhibition highlighting the significant impact of comprehensive water policy over the past 10 years is bringing the lives and voices of the beneficiaries of water programmes right into the halls of the UN Headquarters, from 9 March to 14 April.

"It serves as a reminder to the UN’s top decision makers of just how much impact their work has had on people over the last Decade,” said Josefina Maestu, Director of the Office to support the Water for Life Decade. “It should also show visitors how much has been done, and how much there is yet to do to ensure continued development and progress for all the world’s peoples."

2015 also sees the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs related to water have been broadly successful and are now informing final discussions for the post 2015 agenda and the proposed SDGs.

Looking post 2015

While tangible changes have taken place in water policy over the last 10 years – from improved coordination between ‘water stakeholders’ in business, government, energy, food production, to hitting the Millennium Development Goal for halving the number of people without access to an improved water source five years ahead of its projection –key areas where the world is failing to hit targets remain. Many experts see it as vital that transformations are brought about by having human rights and empowering communities remain a primary focus.

In fact, the target for access to improved sanitation will not be met by the end of the year. Today, many stakeholders and UN entities within UN-Water are attempting to bring the sanitation issue into the spotlight, with some success. The 5 Year Sanitation Drive, the Sanitation Initiative, World Toilet day and the Open Defecation campaign have people talking about the issue, and it has become a priority area for UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the United Nations Global Compact and several other UN entities and many other stakeholders.

While the health and economic benefits to communities of improved sanitation are increasingly prominent, many experts believe it is vital that any targets in the SDGs are sensitive to exactly what is required to achieve the full range of benefits.

Rehema Bavuma, Katosi Women’s Development Trust, Uganda, said: "Having access to water is key to all other forms of empowerment. In rural areas, it is only when a woman has water at home that she is able to invest time in economic activity. If a woman is engaged in the daily routine of searching for water by walking miles and miles away from home, it is practically impossible to engage in anything that brings in money for her. Until recently there was no mention of how entire communities could benefit when those involved in water management – usually women – actually have decision-making power over the resources they manage."

Bringing the world of water to UNHQ

The exhibition brings the voices of beneficiaries of water programmes over the Decade to the public at the United Nations. It is hoped that these voices will highlight the human aspect of water programmes, and thus help support the inclusion of such considerations in to the SDGs.

The work of the Water Decade continues into 2015 with the World Water Day celebration in India, and the Water for Life Award 2015 being unveiled on 30 March. Two key events for the evaluation of achievements, lessons learnt and best practices will also see delegates, ambassadors and players in international development come together this year. First, a high-level event on the International Water Decade, organised by the President of the General Assembly and UN -Water on March 30th at UN Headquarters in New York; followed by the high-level international conference on the implementation of the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’, 2005-2015 on 9-11 June 2015 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The exhibition is open to the public from 9 March until 14 April. Please attend and add your voice.
Where: UN Headquarters. New York, NY 10017, United States

Advancing Water and Sustainable Development

The Division for Sustainable Development organized a two-day workshop at the United Nations in New York in support of the proposed sustainable development goal on water which seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The workshop, held from 24-25 February 2015, enhanced the capacity of selected developing countries to integrate water and sustainable development into their national development strategies. “One of the biggest challenges will be communicating the post-2015 development agenda to those that are in a better position of realizing this agenda”, said Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, DESA, in his opening remarks. “We look to you to help us disseminate this more widely, ratchet up on national political agendas, create more partnerships and communicate the importance of this new agenda especially in the area of water.”

Selected policymakers and national practitioners from 20 developing countries and countries in transition from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean worked with UN-system partners to increase their understanding of the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets. Participants identified major entry points for how the water SDG and its targets can be mainstreamed into policies and strategies at the national level. These entry points included creating national awareness, enhancing the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for transitioning into the proposed SDGs and identifying gaps in policy and implementation.

Unlike the MDG on environmental sustainability, where the water target focused on access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, the water goal will cover six target areas and is not confined to only one proposed sustainable development goal. “Among the 17 sustainable development goals, water is a livelihood resource. The most significant long-term risk worldwide in terms of impact is water security. Water is now the top issue for posing a risk to various development initiatives,” said Mr. Jong-Soo Yoon, Head of the UN Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) in Incheon, which was a partner in the workshop.

The workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to share their knowledge and best practises on integrated water resources management with research institutions, academia and regional organizations active in the water sector. The participants identified three key challenges for implementing the SDGs: financial and budget allocations, institutional mandates on who will be responsible and how they will monitor and review the targets, and human resources development. “We need up-to-date information, which is a challenge in Zambia,” said Mr. Michael Mutale, a senior water expert from Zambia and former official of the Zambian River Commission. “With the focus traditionally put on hydrological data, more focus has to be placed on collecting economic, social and environmental data as well. The implementation of SDG six would require national resources for monitoring and reviewing.”

A key follow-up action was to establish partnerships and a network of experts that will continue to promote an active dialogue on the water goal, cross-sectoral integration, and the nexus approach to enhance the efficiency of different sectors such as the water-energy-food security nexus or the water-climate change nexus. “The water SDG needs to be seen as the goal where interrelationships can be built,” said Ms. Ndey-Isatou Njie, Chief of the Water, Energy and Capacity Development Branch in DSD. “In moving forward, let us look at how the water sector will have linkages to other sectors where water has an impact.”

The UN-Statistical Division, the UN Economic Regional Commissions, UN-Water, UNU-INWEH, UNICEF, UNEP, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University contributed to the workshop presentations.

Water in the World We Want

The United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) and the United Nations University - Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) launched the report "Water in the World We Want" on the side of the “Capacity Development Workshop in Advancing Water and Sustainable Development” that took place in New York on 24 February 2015. The report aims at filling a critical gap in understanding the complexities associated with water resources and their management, and also provides substantive options that enable us to move forward within the global dialogue.

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