Ministers and high-level representatives from government, business and civil society from 140 countries pushed for integrated and accelerated action on climate and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a key event in New York City on Sunday, July 16, 2023.
Delegates met for the Fourth Global Conference on Strengthening Synergies Between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The conference was co-convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and UN Climate Change, as a special event of the 2023 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
Warning that the prospects for achieving every one of the 17 SDGs are impacted by climate change, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said in his opening remarks:
“This must be the year we course-correct. A strong outcome at COP 28 will support both climate action and the sustainability agenda.”
“Finance is key for both agendas. Delivering the longstanding goal of $100 billion of climate finance a year would support sustainable development and climate action,” he added.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) aligning climate and SDG actions can yield long-term co-benefits including a gain of $43 trillion in economic output by 2070.
In his welcoming remarks, Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, outlined the enormous challenges the world faces.
He noted that halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda, only 12 percent of the SDG targets are on track. This is compounded by the fact that the climate crisis is worsening, as emissions continue to rise with catastrophic impacts, including heat waves, droughts, flooding and wildfires.
Speaking on behalf of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Mr. Li urged a Rescue Plan for People and Planet, and called for “unprecedented ambition and action,” including an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion per year to be mobilised between now and 2030.
“Maximising synergies between climate action and the SDGs has never been more critical,” he said.
Dialogue and Recommendations
Several participants noted that political momentum is building for integrated solutions to the climate and SDGs crises, and that both the G7 and G20 had recently recognised the importance of pursuing these synergies.
Engagement by many stakeholders is also growing, with more dialogues being held in connection with Regional Climate Weeks and other climate and SDG processes.
Others noted that, while awareness is growing, this has not yet translated into synergistic action on the ground, and that there was a need to break down the silos among those who work on climate and SDG issues.
The Conference recommended the following actions to keep driving the “win-win” integration and acceleration of these two key agendas:
- Renew leadership and political commitment to speed up action on both the SDGs and Paris Agreement goals, using upcoming milestones such as the SDG Summit, the Climate Ambition Summit, and the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement;
- Continue deepening the evidence base and analytical work related to synergies and trade-offs across sectors, building on the report being prepared by the Expert Group, to be launched in September 2023;
- Ensure integration of just transitions in countries’ national climate plans and development strategies;
- Take into account social equity and the empowerment of vulnerable groups in prioritizing financial and technical support to enable just transitions;
- Strengthen multi-stakeholder cooperation and dialogue at all levels, including through this annual conference on synergies as well as UNFCCC Regional Climate Weeks; and
- Leverage the full range of intergovernmental processes on SDGs and climate to enhance integrated approaches and synergistic action.
The Fourth Global Conference on Strengthening Synergies Between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had a thematic focus on “Delivering a just transition through climate and SDG synergies”.
The Conference heard preliminary reflections from an Expert Group on Climate and SDG Synergies which was launched in response to the critical need to deepen the evidence-base on this topic, on the recommendation of the third global synergies conference in Tokyo, 2022.
The Group, composed of fourteen experts from diverse backgrounds, is expected to launch its report in September 2023.