Monthly Forecast May 2019: Chemicals, Science and Sustainable Development
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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May 2019 is a busy time for intergovernmental negotiations on environmental protection, as well as for discussions of governance and technology for sustainable development.

Talks will cover forests, soil, chemicals and waste, and more.

Preparations for the September Climate Action Summit and SDG Summit will take place, and key reports assessing biodiversity and ecosystems and sustainable development will be released.

May 2019 is a busy time for intergovernmental negotiations on environmental protection, as well as for discussions of governance and technology for sustainable development. Talks will cover issues from the very technical and immediate, to the sweeping, forward-looking and ambitious. In addition, several long-anticipated reports will be launched. Here is your guide to the month.

GSDR: The 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which will be the first GSDR edition to be issued by an independent group of experts and the first that will inform the UN’s summit-level global review of the 2030 Agenda, is expected to be released mid-May, following a preview of initial findings for UN Member States and others in April. The report has benefited from a call for inputs on current scientific knowledge on interactions among the SDGs and their targets, transformation pathways towards sustainable development, major issues that are not explicitly taken into account in the SDGs, and the role of science for sustainable development.

Chemicals and Waste: The 2019 meeting of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions (informally known as the “Triple COPs”) is underway in Geneva. In opening statements, country groupings called for urgent action on emerging issues such as plastics and marine litter, as well as longstanding challenges such as managing legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The SDG Knowledge Hub has published curtain raisers on Basel Convention COP 14, Rotterdam Convention COP 9 and Stockholm Convention COP 9. IISD RS coverage of the meeting is here.

Forests: The 14th session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF 14) meets next week in New York, US. Governments are expected to discuss: implementation of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests (SPF) 2017-2030, including contributions to the implementation of the global forest goals and targets; progress on the development of global forest indicators; enhancing global forest policy coherence and a common international understanding of sustainable forest management (SFM); progress on the activities and operation of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network (GFFFN); and availability of resources, among other issues. IISD RS coverage of the meeting will be here.

Soil: Global Soil Week 2019 at the end of this month will bring together a diverse range of actors to initiate and strengthen policies and actions on sustainable soil management and responsible land governance. The event aims to emphasize the role of enabling environments for smallholder farmes in ending hunger in rural areas, enhancing adaptive capacity, achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN), and sustainably managing biodiversity and natural resources, among other aims.

Science: Two intergovernmental panels are meeting this month to advance work in the realm of environmental science and policy. The seventh session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-7) is currently underway in Paris, France. The meeting is expected to finalize and launch the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, conclude the review of the Platform’s effectiveness, and adopt a framework and programme for the Platform’s future work. The Global Assessment will be the first global synthesis of the state of nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005. IISD RS coverage of the meeting is here.

The 49th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-49), convening in Kyoto, Japan, next week, will consider the 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories. Participants will also hear progress reports on the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) and Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), as well as progress reports from the IPCC’s three Working Groups on their respective contributions to the sixth Assessment Report (AR6). IISD RS coverage of the meeting will be here.

Climate: Preparations for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit are underway. The International Conference on Climate Action (ICCA2019) will provide inputs to the Summit through its focus on climate change adaptation, governance and finance, among other issues. An IISD RS team will be reporting from the meeting.

Resilience and Human Settlements: The sixth session of the biennial Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) will convene in May under the theme, ‘Resilience Dividend: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Societies.’ Participants will discuss, among other issues, the 2019 edition of the Global Assessment Report on DRR. IISD RS coverage of the meeting will be here.

The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) will convene the first session of the UN-Habitat Assembly on the theme, ‘Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities’. The sub-theme for the meeting is ‘Accelerated Implementation of the New Urban Agenda towards Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.’ An IISD RS team will be reporting from the meeting.

Preparations for the Double HLPF: The journey towards 2019’s two meetings of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) – the “double HLPF” as the UN General Assembly President has dubbed them – has a few milestones in May. The UN will host “tech week,” a series of events related to science, technology and innovation (STI) in support of the SDGs. These events will include the fourth multi-stakeholder STI Forum, which will focus on the SDGs under review at the July HLPF, as well as the Solutions Summit and a G-STIC special event.

This month will also conclude the series of expert group meetings in preparation for the July HLPF’s SDG reviews, ending with the meeting on SDG 16 in Rome, Italy. The Regional Forums on Sustainable Development (RFSDs) concluded in April with the forum for Latin America and the Caribbean, while preparations for 49 countries’ voluntary national reviews (VNRs) continue in regions, led both by the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

In May, UN Member States are expected to begin negotiations on the political declaration that will result from the September HLPF (the SDG Summit). The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will convene an expert group meeting on lessons learned from the first four-year cycle of the HLPF. The Partners for Review network led by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) will convene a three-day meeting in Oaxaca, Mexico, for in-depth discussion on strengthening the follow-up and review mechanisms of the 2030 Agenda.

Governments also will gather for negotiations on a possible global pact for the environment. After a technical report on this issue from the UN Secretary-General in late 2018 and two substantive meetings in January and March 2019, Member States will resume discussions in Nairobi during the week of 20 May, now looking at a draft set of recommendations to the UNGA. IISD RS coverage of this process is here.

At the SDG Knowledge Hub, we will track these developments and keep you posted. We also look forward to bringing you updates on candidates for the next UNGA President and new dates for the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has been postponed as a result of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka.

Faye Leone, Elena Kosolapova

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