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The UN Technical Support Team (TST) has issued three briefs in preparation for the fifth session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The documents address the three topics for OWG 5: Energy; Macroeconomic Policy Questions; and Sustained and Inclusive Economic Growth, Infrastructure Development, and Industrialization.

UNGAOctober 2013: The UN Technical Support Team (TST) has issued three briefs in preparation for the fifth session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The documents address the topics for OWG 5: Energy; Macroeconomic Policy Questions; and Sustained and Inclusive Economic Growth, Infrastructure Development, and Industrialization.

The issue brief on energy highlights that, while absent from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), energy is recognized as a key issue for achieving them. The brief takes stock of existing UN initiatives on energy, such as the UN Secretary‐General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, and emphasizes: challenges related to access, sustainability and efficiency of modern energy services; the under-exploitation, especially in developing countries, of renewable energy resources; the links between food security, gender inequalities and energy access; the need for major transformations of current energy systems, including decarbonization; and the lack of integration of energy issues in national development strategies.

The brief also provides an overview of proposals to integrate energy issues into the SDG framework, and finds that the majority of the proposals favor an explicit SDG on energy instead of integrating energy within SDGs that address other development dimensions.

Discussing the way forward, the brief stresses the need for, inter alia: increased support for research and development on energy technologies; improved capacity building and stakeholder participation for increasing energy access; improved data availability, especially in developing countries; and increased attention to the links between energy and other development issues.

The brief on macroeconomic policy questions takes stock of: macroeconomic policy trends before the global financial crisis, indicating that growth, poverty reduction and debt relief occurred without sufficient attention to inclusiveness, financial risks, and environmentally and socially unsustainable production and consumption patterns; the international response to the global financial and economic crisis; the positive and negative impacts of more open international trade; and external debt sustainability.

The brief further provides an overview of proposals on these topics from several international organizations and fora, such as the UN System Task Team (UNTT), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Financial Stability Board (FSB), and the Group of 20 (G20).

Discussing the way forward, the brief highlights the need for: forward-looking macroeconomic policies focused on sustainable growth, decent work and reduction of inequality; policies addressing the negative impacts of international trade while staying clear of protectionism; and debt relief for countries facing unsustainable debt.

The third brief, finally, takes stock of: sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth; the effects of industrialization on economic diversification, technology development and innovation, and inclusive economic growth; and the role of infrastructure development in economic growth and industrialization. The brief also highlights the need to frame a growth SDG in the context of sustainability, equity and human rights principles and discusses proposals in this regard, thereby focusing attention to the question of whether economic growth is a means or an end, and to difficulties of placing a growth target under other SDGs.

The brief concludes with a reflection on: data availability; the role of the state in development; policies supportive of accelerating inclusive and sustainable economic growth, such as policies on building productive capacity, technology and innovation, infrastructure development, funding mechanisms, and social protection; policy coherence and coordination; and partnerships for development. [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Energy] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Macroeconomic policy questions (including international trade, international financial system and external debt sustainability)] [Publication: TST Issues Brief: Sustained and Inclusive Economic Growth, Infrastructure Development, and Industrialization] [Website for OWG 5]


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