This NGO brief highlights a selection of contributions from NGOs in the past months that are providing inputs to moving forward the SDGs, Sendai Framework for DRR and Paris Agreement on climate change, calling governments to account and pressuring them to act with their highest ambition.
Inputs include C20 energy policy recommendations, a first-of-a-kind report from India on women- and child-centric approaches to development, guidance on developing long-term, low GHG emission development strategies, and a toolkit to guide support and build capacity for implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The brief also highlights a pledge to make finance more sustainable through green bonds, and legal action to encourage policy change for fossil fuel companies.
Non-state actors have a crucial role to play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, and the Paris Agreement on climate change, including through engaging in political advocacy, providing expertise and insights on potential policy choices, as well as being directly responsible for the implementation of many of these decisions.
This NGO brief highlights a selection of contributions from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the past months that are providing inputs to moving forward these important agendas, calling governments to account and pressuring them to act with their highest ambition.
Group of 20 (G20) countries represent approximately 85% of global gross domestic product (GDP), house two-thirds of the global population, and are responsible for around 80% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Taking place under a yearly rotating presidency, this group of 20 major economies reiterated their resolve to take action guided by the SDGs and the Paris Agreement in the 2017 G20 Hamburg Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth, including to pursue efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.
Within the G20 space, civil society engages through the “Civil 20” (C20), one of seven official engagement groups recognized by the G20, through which non-state actors can provide input to the process. Co-chaired by Climate Action Network (CAN) International and FARN Argentina, the C20 Environment, Climate and Energy working group produced a set of policy recommendations for a sustainable energy transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future, in advance of the first meeting of the G20 Working Group on Energy Transitions.
The C20 statement highlights the potential for strategic planning of climate and economic policies to boost investments in low-emission, climate-resilient infrastructure and increase GDP across G20 countries by up to 5% in 2050. The statement includes key tasks for G20 countries to: develop and implement long-term, low GHG emission development strategies, aligned with the 1.5ºC temperature goal, to inform short-term policy making and investment decisions, particularly in energy and infrastructure; urgently set a timeline for the complete and equitable phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, leading with the full phase-out of fossil fuel production subsidies by 2020, as a minimum; and scale up action and investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, in line with the Paris Agreement and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy).
Decision 1/CP.21 adopting the Paris Agreement invites countries to develop long-term, low GHG emission development strategies by 2020. As highlighted in a CAN International 2016 position paper, ambitious and robust strategies can help to support implementation of both the SDGs and Paris Agreement, providing policy stability and predictability within a long-term framework to consider emissions reductions, resilience and development pathways in a manner that plots a mutually reinforcing path for sustainable development. By backcasting from 2050, a long-term strategy informs short-term policy making to ensure compatibility with long-term goals, in a way that shorter term targets alone are unable to do.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) European Policy Office released a paper titled, ‘Planning to Succeed: How to build strong 2050 climate and energy development strategies.’ Part of the MaxiMiseR Project, the publication identifies ten essential elements of a long-term strategy to enable it to realize its full potential to tackle climate change while safeguarding the well-being and prosperity of people and the planet, addressing not only GHG emission trajectories but also sustainable development more broadly.
The ten essential elements identified in the paper are: ambition, to keep the global average temperature rise below 2°C and pursue the 1.5°C limit; scope, to be fully cross-sectoral, covering all parts of society and the economy; facilitating implementation, to describe existing and new policies and measures to be taken; integration, to take account of targets/policies of neighboring countries; political commitment, to secure leadership at the highest political level; monitoring, to provide a clear framework for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV); public transparency, to make key information public at all stages of 2050 strategy development; stakeholder participation, to engage all stakeholders in the development of a 2050 strategy; analytical basis, to undertake modelling and sensitivity analysis with peer review; and review, to ensure regular review of the analytical basis, policies, measures and targets.
A report highlighting innovative resilience-building practices from India has been published by CAN South Asia (CANSA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) India. The report titled, ‘Defying Climate Change: Putting Children and Women First,’ is the first of its kind in the region. It emphasizes the benefits of applying a women- and child-centric lens to development decisions to ensure resilience of people and the ecosystems on which they rely. Featuring a foreword from former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the report underscores the urgency of building a low-emission, climate-resilient world to nurture and nourish the most vulnerable. The report highlights several interlinkages between the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the SDGs, in particular SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 13 (climate action).
Highlighting the vulnerability of the poorest people and communities to increasingly frequent and severe climate-induced extreme weather events and natural disasters, the report underscores the particular vulnerability of women and children in remote and fragile environments who are bearing the brunt of these events. It identifies innovative community-based adaptation (CBA) projects and practices that benefit women and children directly or indirectly and can be used as models to develop and promote women- and child-centered adaptation and DRR best practices on a national scale. The report underlines the importance of factors such as locally-appropriate solutions, community ownership and multi-stakeholder partnerships in building resilience of the most vulnerable communities.
The projects featured in the report each fulfill the following nine criteria: directly benefit women and children; use innovative practice, technology or method of implementation; adopt clear monitoring and evaluation strategies; involve diverse stakeholders, including local self governments and other NGOs; be a participatory, people-driven process with community buy-in and social acceptability; incorporate sustainability strategies with identified resources and potential for replications; be cost-effective and doable using indigenous adaptation knowledge and materials where possible; demonstrate transparency and accountability; and include a clear mechanism for knowledge sharing and knowledge building beyond the immediate locality.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) also play an important watchdog role to ensure accountability of governments and other actors and apply pressure for change where minimum standards are not being met. Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) has threatened the multinational Royal Dutch Shell with legal action if it does not cut back its oil and gas investments to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. Announced on 4 April 2018, the organization has given Shell eight weeks to adjust its business strategy to bring it in line with the internationally-agreed climate goals. The case is the latest in a series of litigation actions taken against fossil fuel companies, but the first to be structured in such a way as to use the threat of legal action to pressure the company into changing its policies.
ACT Alliance has published a toolkit for national advocacy titled, ‘Towards the Ambitious Implementation of the Paris Agreement,’ designed to support national-level advocacy efforts and capacity building, focusing on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and long-term low GHG emission development strategies. The toolkit highlights the importance of aligning climate policies with national development planning and the implementation of the SDGs, noting that interlinkages between the Paris Agreement, the SDGs and Sendai Framework for DRR mutually underline the necessity of a transition towards a sustainable, zero-carbon, climate-resilient future for all. It provides several best practice examples for various aspects of climate policy making, including the NDC Partnership, the NAP Global Network and principles for civil society engagement for developing long-term strategies articulated by CAN.
In sustainable finance updates, a number of climate finance and environmental groups have published a pledge that they are urging cities and companies to sign, aiming to scale up finance for low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure and capital projects. The Green Bond Pledge was jointly developed by organizations including Climate Bonds Initiative, Mission 2020, CDP, Ceres, Citizens Climate Lobby, California Governor’s Office, California Treasurer’s Office, Global Optimism, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Climate Group, and was unveiled by former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, who called for green bonds issuance to hit US$1 trillion a year by 2020 in order to support international climate goals.