Monthly Forecast: April 2016
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As the international sustainable development community begins the fourth month of the “2016 Year of Implementation,” a number of events will demonstrate how various entities are approaching the implementation of the three key outcomes from the “2015 Year of Decision”: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

As the international sustainable development community begins the fourth month of the “2016 Year of Implementation,” a number of events will demonstrate how various entities are approaching the implementation of the three key outcomes from the “2015 Year of Decision”: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

AAAA

The first follow-up session for the three outcomes will be the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development (FfD Forum). As agreed by UN Member States, this Forum will take place from 18-20 April, at UN Headquarters in New York, US and will address the theme ‘Financing for sustainable development: follow-up to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA).’ Consultations on the Forum’s conclusions and recommendations have already begun, and are being led by Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou, Permanent Representative of Benin, and Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of Croatia.

The Forum also will consider the proceedings of another outcome from the Third International Conference on FfD: the Global Infrastructure Forum. This Forum will take place on Saturday, 16 April, in Washington, DC, US, as part of the 2016 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group. The Global Infrastructure Forum will focus on the theme, ‘Spending more, spending better on infrastructure,’ and will aim to improve alignment and coordination among multilateral development banks and development partners to facilitate the development of sustainable, accessible and resilient quality infrastructure for developing countries.

2030 Agenda

Of particular interest in April for the 2030 Agenda will be the High-level Thematic Debate on ‘Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs), which UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft will convene on 21 April. This event will take place one day before Heads of State and Government are invited to participate in the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement, and will seek to engage leaders at the highest level in discussions on key aspects of SDG implementation, such as national responses, mobilizing public and private finance, technology and data, partnership-based implementation, and climate action. Gender equality and capacity building will be in focus as cross-cutting themes.

Also related to the 2030 Agenda, the outcomes of the just-concluded third meeting of the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), which convened in Mexico City, Mexico, from 30 March-1 April, will be eagerly reviewed by those who are watching the development of the indicator set against which the SDGs will be assessed. The March meeting of the UN Statistical Commission decided to use the recommendations coming out of the IAEG-SDGs’ first two meetings as a “practical starting point” for further refinement, and the third IAEG-SDGs meeting represents the first point at which such refinement was to get underway.

Meanwhile, New York delegates and stakeholders are attending dialogues and training sessions on Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) and the longer-term positioning of the UN Development System. The 2016 QCPR will be negotiated later this year.

Preparations for the 2016 Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), which will take place during the 2016 annual meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), will advance at a Belgium High-Level Symposium, from 6-8 April. Participants will consider the theme, ‘How will development cooperation actors gear their operations towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and realize the commitments made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development?’ The DCF is one component of this year’s ECOSOC High-level Segment, which will also hold the Ministerial Meeting of the HLPF.

Paris Agreement

As agreed in December 2015, the high-level signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement will take place on 22 April, at UN Headquarters in New York. Convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, this event is a first step in implementing the Agreement, which will then be open for signature until 21 April 2017. In addition to signing the Agreement, countries will need to adopt it within their own legal systems, through ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. The Agreement will enter into force when joined by at least 55 countries that together represent at least 55% of global emissions. In order to determine entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the UNFCCC Secretariat has made available information on the most up-to-date total and per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions communicated by parties.

As with the high-level thematic debate on the 2030 Agenda, which takes place the day before the signing ceremony, organizers and participants will be watching to see if the level of support that was voiced for these agreements in September and December continues to resonate at the highest levels, now that the complex task of realigning institutional activities and priorities has begun. Building momentum ahead of the signing ceremony, China and the US have announced they will sign the Paris Agreement at the UN ceremony. As the highest and second highest emitters of GHGs, their participation and cooperation in the climate change challenge is viewed by many as crucial for implementation.

At the end of the month, another key event related to climate action will take place. The 69th Session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is responsible for the limitation and reduction of GHG emissions from international shipping, is scheduled to meet from 18-22 April, in London, UK. The MEPC will discuss air pollution and energy efficiency, further technical and operational measures for enhancing the energy efficiency of international shipping, and the reduction of GHG emissions from ships.

This meeting is key to the implementation to the Paris Agreement because international maritime transport emissions represent approximately 3% of global emissions, and the share of both aviation and maritime emissions is projected to rise between 10–32% by 2050. Despite being such an important emitter, international transport is absent from the Paris Agreement. As a result, the sector is in the international spotlight, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently visited the IMO to deliver a strong message on the urgency of addressing the growth of emissions and to urge the Organization to adopt legally binding energy efficiency measures for ships.

Natural Resources

Also in April, the first meeting of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG) under the auspices of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) will begin developing proposals on the strategic plan for 2017-2030 that take into account the AAAA, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. In the area of biodiversity, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will convene the 20th meeting its Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the first meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI). These meetings will review implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 16 on the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing as well as the effectiveness of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

 

Lynn Wagner, Alice Bisiaux, Faye Leone and Lauren Anderson

We are pleased to bring you the first Monthly Forecast. Please contact us with any comments or suggestions on this column. For more information on key sustainable development events in April 2016, please consult our calendar of upcoming events: http://sdg.iisd.org/events/. For information after these events conclude, visit our Policy & Practice knowledgebase: http://sdg.iisd.org/.

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