Monthly Forecast: February 2017
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

SDG 14 (life below water) will take the spotlight later this month, as Member States, UN actors and stakeholders discuss the elements of the ‘Call for Action’ to be adopted by governments at the June Ocean Conference.

Other events will highlight the international response to the objective of leaving no one behind, a principle tenet of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

February also will see continued focus on peace, conflict prevention and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Efforts around data and measurement will also feature in February, following the January gathering of representatives from national statistics offices for the first UN World Data Forum and prior to the further refinement of the global indicator framework during the March meeting of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC 48).

During the coming month, while many sustainable development professionals are likely to focus on the potentially far-reaching effects of the new US presidential administration as well as other populist movements around the world, February will also feature action on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) related to oceans, among other SDGs.

SDG 14 (life below water) will take the spotlight later this month. In preparation for the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14 (Ocean Conference), which will take place in June 2017 in New York, Member States, UN actors and stakeholders will convene, from 15-16 February, to discuss the elements of the ‘Call for Action’ to be adopted by governments at the Conference. The June Conference will include seven partnership dialogues, which aim to facilitate new connections among ocean stakeholders and encourage innovative partnerships to address implementation gaps. At a briefing on 12 January 2017, the Conference Co-Chairs (Fiji and Sweden) stressed that the Conference is not just for governments, ocean experts or specific NGOs. It aims to bring together all ocean stakeholders to address a wide range of ocean issues in one event, with SDG 14 “as a blueprint.” They also said the Ocean Conference will set the stage for considering the implementation of all the other SDGs, and must set the standard for momentum in the SDG era. SDG 14 is one of the seven Goals that will be reviewed at the July 2017 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), with the February and June meetings set to feed into the HLPF’s review process.

One week after the SDG 14 preparatory meeting and half-way around the world in Bali, Indonesia, The Economist will host a discussion on the ocean with a different focus and audience. The fourth World Ocean Summit, which will convene from 22-24 February, will gather high-level representatives and stakeholders to discuss how to finance a sustainable blue economy, specifically how capital and the private sector can support scalable, sustainable ocean investment. Among the speakers on the agenda, Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), will discuss the Ocean Conference and SDG 14, and Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UN Environment, or UNEP) will launch the UN Marine Litter Campaign. Also contributing to the global dialogue on ocean issues, the recently launched Ocean Action Hub will begin hosting dialogues on the themes for the June Ocean Conference.

Other events in February will highlight the international response to the objective of leaving no one behind, a principle tenet of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Intergovernmental negotiations on a global compact on migration will continue at UN Headquarters in New York, following the adoption of the modalities for negotiation, which were agreed on 30 January. Participation of Indigenous Peoples at the UN will be the subject of two rounds of consultations, one concluding on 1 February, followed by consultations on 27-28 February.

February also will see continued focus on January’s high-level discussions on peace, conflict prevention and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The new UN Secretary-General gave his first address to the UN Security Council, on 10 January, during a debate on prevention and peacebuilding, followed by his first address to the UNGA, on 24 January, during a high-level dialogue on the linkages between the Sustaining Peace Agenda and the 2030 Agenda, in particular Goal 16 . In both remarks, he highlighted the need to address the root causes of conflict, including development challenges. Many governments stressed that strong institutions, participatory governance and rule of law are essential for achieving this Goal. Officials and stakeholders will have a chance to resume this discussion in the context of its application to small island developing States (SIDS) during a UN symposium on Implementing the 2030 Agenda in SIDS. The symposium will convene under the theme, ‘Equipping public institutions and mobilizing partners,’ and take place in the Bahamas, from 21-23 February. The World Bank’s recently released ‘World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law’ reflects many of these themes and is likely to be scrutinized for its lessons on how to build actors’ capacity to commit and their willingness to coordinate actions in order to achieve socially desirable goals.

Finally, we draw attention to the meeting of the Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications from non-Annex I Parties (CGE) of the UNFCCC, which will convene in Bonn, Germany, from 14-16 February. The CGE provides technical advice and support to developing country Parties in order to improve their national communications and Biennial Update Reports, thereby assisting them in meeting their reporting obligations and enhancing transparency of the international climate regime. The year 2017 opened with a particular focus on implementation, monitoring and tracking of the SDG framework, as representatives from national statistics offices, among others, gathered for the first UN World Data Forum to discuss the role of data and statistics in enabling achievement of the SDGs by 2030. With further refinement of the global indicator framework expected during the March meeting of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC 48), national reporting and transparency will receive greater focus both inside and outside government, as the international community seeks to assess its greatest challenges as well as where 2030 Agenda achievements can be celebrated.

Faye Leone, Lynn Wagner, Alice Bisiaux and Lauren Anderson

related posts