GEF Event Examines SDGs and Planetary Boundaries
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Protecting the earth's shared natural resources in the context of population's accelerated growth was the focus of a high-level event organized by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on the margins of the UN Sustainable Development Summit.

post2015_iisdrs_sideevents27 September 2015: Protecting the Earth’s shared natural resources in the context of population’s accelerated growth was the focus of a high-level event organized by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on the margins of the UN Sustainable Development Summit.

The event, titled ‘Beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – A Fresh Start for Planet Earth?’, gathered leaders from government, business, international agencies and academia on 27 September 2015, in New York, US.

Opening the event, Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President, said poor people, who did not put the carbon in the air, must have access to energy. He noted that the World Bank’s priorities include putting a price on carbon, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, climate smart agriculture, and clean and livable cities.

L.T. Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan, stressed that social inclusiveness is essential for resilience. He noted that the SDGs cast light on two emerging areas of development, environment and good governance, and good governance is the key to the paradigm shift toward sustainable development.

Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation President, explained the “resilience dividend,” noting that one dollar invested in resilience can save four dollars wasted in disasters, and governments and stakeholders can get more value per dollar by integrating resilience. Rodin said young people have an “extraordinary transformational capacity” and are an important part of good governance, adding that each generation has the opportunity to change the course of history.

Johan Rockström, Director of the Stockholm Resilience Center, said “we are about to push ourselves beyond the planet’s boundaries” with damage to the climate system, the ozone layer and the oceans – which can “tip us out of our system.” Rockström called the SDGs “maybe the biggest decision in history,” and said the Declaration that accompanies them “truly marks a paradigm shift to sustainable development.” He cautioned, however, that many perceive them as a “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) plus” agenda; in fact, the SDGs do not only complete the unfinished business of the MDGs, but are a much more complex agenda, requiring humans to “reconnect with their planet.”

Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, identified two major challenges: the persistent conceptualization of development in silos; and the management of global commons – oceans, air, land, forests – which do not have a market price. She stressed the need for: greening the supply chain; involving stakeholders at all levels; and thinking of cities as mechanisms for governing global goods.

Taking the floor, civil society and private sector representatives raised issues including: climate change as a human rights issue; the role of young people in tackling climate change; and the need to transition to sustainable consumption and production patterns (SCP). [IISD RS Meeting Coverage]


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