Monthly Forecast: May 2017
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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets related to migration, climate, health infrastructure, water, sanitation, oceans, land, fisheries, biodiversity and forests will be addressed in May.

SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation will be under consideration during two triennial events, climate negotiators will convene in Bonn, Germany, for the official session of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC, and governments will gather for two events on the role of innovation, science and technology, among other key proceedings.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) practitioners will give high-level consideration to SDGs and targets related to migration, climate, health infrastructure, water, sanitation, oceans, land, fisheries, biodiversity and forests during May.

SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation will be under consideration during two triennial events this month. The 4th Istanbul International Water Forum, an event that precedes the World Water Forum, will focus on ‘Water and Peace.’ The Istanbul Forum will discuss urban water management, relief actions, as well as reaching the SDGs, with a specific focus on the refugee issue. A Special Session will address the practices of water and sanitation provision to Syrians in Turkey. The next World Water Forum will take place in Brazil in 2018.

The International Water Resources Association (IWRA) will convene the World Water Congress, another triennial proceeding. This sixteenth Congress (XVI) will address the theme, ‘Bridging Science and Policy,’ and will look into issues related to sanitation, health, wastewater (the theme of World Water Day 2017), water security and sustainable growth. The crosscutting issues of bridging science and policy, building capacity, and stakeholder participation will be in focus.

In addition, the UN Secretary-General and President of the World Bank Group will convene the 4th meeting of the High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW). The Panel consists of 11 sitting Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser who aim to champion a comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, and improving water and sanitation related services. The core focus of the Panel is working towards achievement of SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, along with other water-related SDGs. The meeting will be co-chaired by the Presidents of Mexico and Mauritius. Other members of the Panel include the Heads of State and Government from Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, Tajikistan and South Africa.

Land policy practitioners will also be contributing to review of SDG implementation in May. The Global Soil Week (GSW) 2017 or GSW’17 will meet under the theme ‘Catalysing SDG Implementation through a Soil and Land Review.’ From a soils and land perspective, it will conduct a pilot thematic review of the subset of SDGs under focus by the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) this year. Three workshops scheduled to take place during the Week will investigate: (1) Sustaining and upscaling achievements of SLM initiatives; (2) Right to [defend] Land: strengthening accountability at the local level through thematic reviews; and (3) Competing Pressures on Soil and Land: securing our natural resource base for food security.

Forests will also feature this month, as the 12th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 12) addresses the implementation, monitoring and assessment of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (the Strategic Plan) as well as means and resources for implementation of the Plan. As part of the deliberations on the Strategic Plan’s implementation, panel discussions on forests in relation to SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 5 (gender equality) will take place.

Biodiversity will also have its day in May, on the 22nd, when the 2017 International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is celebrated under the theme, ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism.’ The theme coincides with the designation of 2017 by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

For the ocean, preparations for the UN Ocean Conference on SDG 14 (life below water) will intensify, with governments engaging in a final round of consultations on the political outcome of the Conference, the Call for Action. Among the outstanding issues are references to the role of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in implementing ocean-related commitments, and the ongoing negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) on harmful fishing subsidies.

The issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is addressed under SDG 14, will also be considered during the First Meeting of the Parties to the 2009 FAO Agreement on Port State Measures. This is the agreement that seeks to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing through the implementation of robust port State measures. This meeting will review the status and requirements for the implementation of the Agreement, and discuss the role of flag States and other States, of FAO, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, and other international organizations and bodies in its implementation.

Also this month, climate negotiators will convene in Bonn, Germany, for the official session of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC. The three subsidiary bodies meeting in Bonn are the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA), the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA). The latter will continue negotiations on the development of the “rule book” of the Paris Agreement, in other words, the specific guidelines, modalities and procedures that will make the Paris Agreement’s goals and provisions operational, and ready to be implemented. The APA will do so by taking up all its substantive agenda items, namely mitigation, adaptation, transparency, the global stocktake, implementation and compliance, and further matters relating to implementation.

At the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech, a number of developed and developing countries had expressed disappointment that the APA had not continued its discussions in the second week of the Conference, feeling the APA could have done more. Instead, calls for submissions and further discussions were agreed as the way forward. In Bonn, delegates will kick off negotiations equipped with the numerous submissions that have been received over the past weeks on a wide range of issues. In addition, a number of workshops and roundtables are scheduled to take place in Bonn, including: a roundtable on nationally determined contributions (NDCs); a workshop on guidance related to adaptation communications; a roundtable on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (market and non-market approaches); and a roundtable discussion on initiation of the process to identify the information to be provided by developed countries on public finance. On transparency, delegates will be equipped with the APA Co-Chairs’ report of the intersessional workshop held on this issue in March 2017.

The APA will also discuss matters related to the Adaptation Fund at the request of Parties at COP 22. We will be watching these discussions and report on whether delegates are able to take the technical negotiations deeper, as was hoped by some in Marrakech.

The SBI has by far the largest agenda of the three bodies, with much of its work relating to areas of ongoing implementation, such as national implementation plans (NAPs), capacity building, matters related to least developed countries (LDCs), and response measures. The SBI will also carry out work on the ongoing measurement, reporting and verification system such as the multilateral assessment and the facilitative sharing of views, which are opportunities for Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and Convention to present their efforts thus far and receive feedback and assessment from their peers. It also has three agenda items related to Paris Agreement rule book, namely on the public registry for NDCs and for adaptation communications, and the periodic assessment of the Technology Mechanism in relation to supporting the Paris Agreement.

Some mandated events, including technical expert meetings (TEMs) on mitigation and adaptation, the Paris Committee on Capacity-building, possible elements of a gender action plan, and an Ad hoc Technical Expert Group Meeting on response measures will convene to continue implementation work under the SBI.

As for the SBSTA, its shorter list of agenda items features ongoing technical work, including on agriculture, science and review, response measures and the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. It will also consider several items under methodological issues under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.

The SBSTA also has work related to the development of the Paris Agreement’s rule book. Under the SBSTA, countries will discuss the technology framework established by the Paris Agreement and will continue negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. It will also consider modalities for the accounting of financial resources provided and mobilized through public interventions as per Article 9 of the Agreement.

In addition, the COP 22 President, in collaboration with COP 23 President, was mandated to undertake inclusive and transparent consultation with Parties on the organization of 2018 Facilitative Dialogue. The COP presidencies are expected to carry out these consultations during the session with a view to jointly report to COP 23.

Back at UN Headquarters in New York, US, the global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration finally has an approved preparatory process, which gets its official start in May. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the modalities for the preparations after in-depth consideration of budget implications, and Phase I (stocktaking) commences with two informal thematic sessions this month. The first will address human rights of migrants, social inclusion, and discrimination, followed by a session on addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human-made crises.

Other activities in May will focus on several of the SDGs that are up for in-depth review at this year’s HLPF. Eradication of poverty (Goal 1) will be the topic of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) integration segment, where participants will seek to identify recommendations for “integrated policymaking.” The World Bank is leading the organization of an expert group meeting/preparatory conference on SDG 1. The outcomes of both the Integration Segment and the Copenhagen gathering will comprise inputs to the HLPF session. Similar expert group meetings (EGMs) will focus on SDG 5 (gender equality), also in May, and SDGs 2 (zero hunger) and 3 (good health and well-being) in June.

Good health will also be the focus of the World Health Assembly, which will hold its 70th session. The decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) is tasked to choose from among three candidates to succeed Margaret Chan as Director-General. The candidates are: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia, a former government minister; Sania Nishtar of Pakistan, a medical doctor; and David Nabarro of the UK, a medical doctor and current UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

On industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9), governments will gather for two events on the role of innovation, science and technology. The Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum) is a component of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism mandated by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development (AAAA). Its second annual session will address ‘Science, Technology and Innovation for a Changing World – Focus on SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14.’ Following the STI Forum, UNGA President Peter Thomson will convene a High-level Event on ‘Innovation and Connectivity,’ to enable innovators from major corporations and UN Member States to discuss how emerging technologies can transform efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. UN bodies recently held two meetings in Africa in preparation for an ECOSOC special meeting on ‘Innovations in Infrastructure Development and Promoting Sustainable Industrialization.’ The ECOSOC meeting will aim to highlight challenges faced by developing countries and countries in special situations and to generate solutions to bridge gaps in infrastructure and industrialization across countries.

Progress towards Goal 17 (partnership for the Goals) will be examined at the second annual ECOSOC Forum on FfD Follow-up, negotiations for which are already underway. In the integrated 2030 Agenda, this Goal underpins all others and returns us to the imperative to implement the Agenda in an integrated manner. The events noted above begin with a focus on specific sectors, but their implementation will only be successful to the extent that other SDGs and targets are taken into consideration. We have highlighted a number of the interlinkages that will be addressed during the May events, and we look forward to reporting further on these intersections as we head into this very busy month for the 2030 Agenda.

Alice Bisiaux, Lauren Anderson, Faye Leone and Lynn Wagner


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