HLPF Blog Explores Tourism, DRR for SDGs
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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Officials from the World Bank Group write that water represents “a silent emergency” and a risk to achieving the SDGs, while Ning Zetao, Chinese competitive swimmer and World Champion, explains that the water we pollute ends up in the oceans and seas, causing marine pollution.

The President of IFAD suggests using satellite images to monitor ecosystems and support the design of strategies to reduce the risk of disaster.

20 July 2018: In a set of blog posts published during the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), UN officials, economists, academics and athletes highlight initiatives and recommendations related to water, health, disaster risk reduction (DRR), tourism and energy.

Mahmoud Mohieldin and Guangzhe Chen, World Bank Group, write that water represents “a silent emergency” and a risk to achieving the SDGs. Noting that water-related challenges include gaps in access to water supply and sanitation driven by growing populations and rapid urbanization, more water-intensive patterns of growth, increasing rainfall variability and pollution, they highlight that “the world is not on track” to achieve SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation). Observing that the water sector requires six times more financing than what is currently available from government, the private sector and donors, they stress the need to scale up blended finance.

Ning Zetao, Chinese competitive swimmer and World Champion, highlights the connection between SDG 6 and SDG 14 (life below water), explaining that the water we pollute ends up in the oceans and seas, causing marine pollution. Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), elaborates on ways to harness nature to help protect the water supply, such as by restoring forests, grasslands and natural wetlands, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and creating buffers of vegetation along water courses. He also brings attention to opportunities provided by the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” such as: blockchain-based technologies that can improve water use in agriculture; the ‘Internet of Things’ that will enable more connections and a greater data exchange; and satellite images that can enable the monitoring of ecosystems to support the design of strategies that reduce the risk of disaster.

Also on making the most of technology, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), expresses hope that technological advances, circular economy thinking and the right measurement systems will contribute to finding ways in which tourism can, instead of only balancing growth with resource use, to actually create resources for other sectors and support the sustainability of humanity and the planet.

Ilona Kickbusch, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, emphasizes that the concept of “health for all” can help to build sustainable and resilient societies. She explains that no nation is immune to the global threats resulting from an outbreak of infectious disease in a seemingly remote part of the world, but countries with strong health systems are better able to prevent, detect and respond effectively to these crises, significantly reducing the loss of life, community disruption and economic costs. She discusses universal health coverage as pathway to achieving strong health systems, and calls for designing progressive pathways to first reach the most vulnerable and marginalized populations to ensure no one is left behind.

Consistently over the last ten years, more people have been displaced by natural hazards than by conflict, writes Mami Mizutori, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for DRR and Head of the UN Office for DRR. She calls for increasing the number of countries with inclusive national and local strategies for DRR by 2020, as stipulated by the Sendai Framework for DRR.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), uses her article to stress the importance of changing the energy matrix for mobility within cities’ energy strategy, which she says would support sustainable investment and contribute to the achievement of both the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda.

The 2018 HLPF took place from 9-18 July, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. [HLPF Blog] [HLPF 2018 Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on first series of blog posts] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on second series of blog posts]

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