UN Climate Action to Reach SDGs Seeks to Avoid “Disastrous Consequences” for People, Natural Systems
Photo by Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
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The Climate Action Summit website highlights UN climate actions focusing on: women as agents of change; disasters, resilience and land management; early warning systems; green jobs; cities and pollution; and education to address climate change.

According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “we must change course by 2020,” or we may not be able to avoid the “disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us”.

August 2019: In preparation for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on 23 September, the UN is showcasing existing climate action initiatives “to boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change” that contribute to implementation of many of the SDGs.

The Climate Action Summit website highlights UN climate actions focusing on: women as agents of change; disasters, resilience and land management; early warning systems; green jobs; cities and pollution; and education to address climate change. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “we must change course by 2020,” or we may not be able to avoid the “disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.”

Women as agents of change: The website highlights the UN’s community-driven approaches to integrating climate-smart solutions in women’s work that not only benefit the environment, but also help women improve the quality of life for their families and communities, while advancing sustainable development. As an illustration, among other examples, the website highlights a programme in Côte d’Ivoire by UN Women and local partners to help women modernize shea butter production while at the same time reducing deforestation. As “drivers of solutions,” women contribute to the achievement of SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 15 (life on land) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), among other Goals, while advancing SDG 5 (gender equality).

Disasters, resilience and land management: The website showcases UN actions to help enhance climate resilience and adaptive capacities in vulnerable communities through the introduction of improved farming techniques, development projects and better land management. Featured examples include the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Great Green Wall project, which aims to revive land in Africa’s Sahel region through sustainable land management (SLM), while alleviating such threats as climate change, drought, famine, conflict and migration, and to increase food security and jobs. Such initiatives contribute to multiple SDGs, including Goals 13 and 15, as well as SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Early warning systems: The UN, the website notes, is working in diverse partnerships to introduce innovative early warning system initiatives in vulnerable areas around the world. Among other examples, it highlights the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Signature Programme, ‘Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems for Climate-resilient Development and Adaptation to Climate Change,’ operating across Africa, Asia and the Pacific to ensure preparedness and rapid response to natural disasters, using a model that integrates risk knowledge, monitoring and predicting, dissemination of information and response to warnings, and help implement SDG 13.

Green jobs: Citing an International Labour Organization’s (ILO) report, the website notes that 24 million new jobs will be created globally by 2030, provided sustainable practices are adopted and implemented, enabling millions of people to overcome poverty and enjoy improved livelihoods. It highlights ILO’s green jobs initiatives in Zambia, Sri Lanka and Egypt that contribute to, among other Goals, SDGs 13, 5, 7 (affordable and clean energy), 6 (clean water and sanitation) and 1 (no poverty).

Cites and pollution: The website notes that, according to UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) data, while accounting for less than 2% of the Earth’s surface, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It also underscores an additional challenge that another 2.5 billion people are predicted to reside in urban areas by 2050, with nearly 90% of them in cities in Asia and Africa. The website provides examples of UN initiatives that seek to address the issue of climate change in cities, including a joint work programme by UN-Habitat, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank and Cities Alliance to assist cities in developing countries to mainstream environmental considerations into urban policymaking, and UNEP’s Share the Road Programme, which encourages walking and cycling and has helped improve air quality in cities such as Hangzhou, China. In addition to SDG 13, these efforts help achieve SDGs 11 and 3 (good health and well-being).

Education to address climate change: Noting the critical role education plays in addressing climate change, the website highlights States’ obligation under the UNFCCC to undertake educational and public awareness campaigns on climate change and to ensure public participation in programmes and information access on the issue. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development programme, UNESCO’s Global Action Programme (GAP) and UNFCCC’s Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) are among the initiatives highlighted on the website that simultaneously contribute to SDGs 13 and 4 (quality education).

The UN Climate Action Summit is expected to showcase “a leap in collective national political ambition,” send strong market and political signals and inject momentum in the “race to the top” among countries, companies, cities and civil society that is required to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. [UN Climate Action Webpage on UN Climate Action Summit Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Curtain Raiser for Climate Action Summit]


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