Civil Society Reactions: Global Sustainable Development agenda finalised in New York

August 3 - New York: The world has updated its to do list to drive solutions to our biggest problems - poverty, inequality and climate change - after the new Global Sustainable Development agenda was finalised in New York on Sunday in preparation for ratification by world leaders at a major UN summit in September. The agenda, which includes a landmark set of 17 goals, acknowledges for the first time that countries need to address climate change as a developmental challenge, decoupling growth from environmental degradation. Governments will need to raise their ambition to start delivering on these goals by producing a universal and legally binding Paris agreement on climate this December to shift to a low-carbon economy.

For the first time, these global goals acknowledge that the world can’t deal with these crises in isolation, said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK. "We can – in our generation – stamp out extreme poverty and achieve sustainable development. But with climate impacts already hitting the most vulnerable people hardest, it’s clear that we will not meet these global goals unless we take decisive action on climate change, get an ambitious and universal climate agreement with legal force in Paris and manage to address the existing emissions gap – as rightly acknowledged by the post-2015 summit outcome document agreed at the UN in New York yesterday.” Nussbaum said. “That’s why we welcome the newly minted post-2015 sustainable development framework, which features climate action as a headline goal, as well as it running through many other goals like a green thread. The new framework recognises that addressing climate change and eradicating poverty are profoundly connected.”

“Many countries will need to drastically alter policies in favour of people and planet if they take this new to do list for the planet seriously. To tackle poverty and dangerous climate change, we must urgently end the fossil fuel era and deliver 100% renewable energy for all" said Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International. "These goals will mean nothing unless governments at the Paris climate summit complete the task and agree to phase out fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy for all by 2050.”

The Sustainable Development Agenda has laid the groundwork for such a signal, according to Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network International. “In New York, this week governments have failed to acknowledge the need to have ‘a world free from harmful emissions', which is needed to address the climate challenge, but there was a strong recognition that there is a need to follow more ambitious emission reduction pathways to stay below 2 or 1.5 degrees temperature rise. Beyond these temperatures economic development will become severely hampered.”

Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at CAFOD, welcomed the progress that these new goals represent in relation to the MDGs understanding of our shared responsibility to care for our common home. “Pope Francis’ powerful statements recently have reminded us that we must stand in solidarity with the poorest people and the environment, and that we must phase out fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy to do this. The goals alone are not a solution to our world’s problems but a stepping stone we need to build on in the climate talks in Paris and through meaningful implementation of these goals over the next 15 years. This is our responsibility for present and future generations.”

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 950 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from over 110 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org  

Contact: Mark Raven, CAN International, email: mraven@climatenetwork.org, phone: +90 53626 88406

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