The event sought to provide an opportunity to highlight synergies between actions to address climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Tajikistan, the Philippines, Armenia and Andorra announced that they just submitted their respective instruments of ratification of or accession to the Paris Agreement.
Discussions focused on, inter alia, the possibilities for changes in the energy sector, financing sustainable development, and the role of big data and information in accelerating change.
24 March 2017: President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Peter Thomson convened a High-Level Event, titled ‘Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda,’ in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The event sought to provide an opportunity to highlight synergies between actions to address climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This event was originally scheduled as a one-day event, but due to the large number of UN Member States that wanted to speak, a second morning was added to the schedule, with the meeting taking place from 23-24 March 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.
Representatives of UN Member States, international organizations, the private sector and civil society discussed their efforts to advance solutions to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, which were both adopted in 2015.
Participants quickly jumped into discussions regarding options to address climate change in a holistic manner, with all recognizing the linkages between the SDGs and climate change.
Following opening statements, delegates heard panel presentations and plenary statements. As the facilitator of one of the panel sessions reported at the end of the first day, participants quickly jumped into discussions regarding options to address climate change in a holistic manner, with all recognizing the linkages between the SDGs and climate change. Many participants agreed with a comment that it is time to remove “negotiating hats” and focus on implementation challenges and opportunities.
Tajikistan, the Philippines, Armenia and Andorra announced that they have just submitted their respective instruments of ratification of or accession to the Paris Agreement, and several other speakers announced their countries are close to completing the ratification or accession process. Speakers also confirmed and renewed their intentions to take action to address climate change, with many identifying specific actions, legislation and partnerships.
Discussions also focused on, inter alia, the possibilities for changes in the energy sector, with attention given to a publication recently released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) on renewable energy prospects. The joint report calls for removing harmful fossil fuel subsidies, and highlights the possibilities for technological leapfrogging, along with the importance of ensuring a just transition for those affected by these changes. Participants also discussed opportunities for financing sustainable development through the issuance of green bonds, and for steering investment decisions by enhancing the availability and measurement of climate-related risks.
Participants addressed the role of big data in promoting “radical transparency,” which they said could provide an accelerant for change. They discussed the need to “make climate change personal,” and noted that this could be accomplished by developing the stories that data can tell.
In closing remarks, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa saluted the fact that, according to a recent IEA report, carbon emissions have been flat for the third year in a row. She said transforming the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) into national policies is not going to be easy for governments, UN agencies or other international organizations, and called for cooperation to identify opportunities and solutions, as well as to integrate efforts.
UNGA President Thomson thanked participants for their engagement and said he is “deeply encouraged” by the high level of interest in advancing the mutually reinforcing opportunities for action provided by the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. Thomson highlighted recurrent themes during the discussions, including: the need to scale up current successful actions; the importance of engaging women; the call to empower youth as drivers of change; the immense potential of science, technology and innovation to provide solutions; and the remarkable efforts around the world on renewable energy. [IISD RS Coverage of Event] [IPCC Chair’s Statement] [UN Press Release on IPCC Chair’s Statement] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary’s Statement] [UNGA President’s Closing Remarks] [UN News Centre, 23 March] [UN Secretary-General Remarks] [UN Meeting Summary] [UNGA President Office’s Summary]