15 August 2019
SDG Knowledge Weekly: Climate Action, Governance, and National and Regional Assessments
Photo credit: Graffizone
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The concept of 'SDG16+' was a popular topic of discussion, given increasing recognition that the Goal is an enabler of the broader 2030 Agenda, with several reports and events on the subject, including from the TAP Network and the UK government.

Linking SDGs 13 and 16, the Stockholm International Peace Institute released a policy brief that unpacks how climate change impacts the efficacy of peacebuilding, and the Institute for European Environmental Policy analyzed the EU’s progress towards the two Goals.

The South African Institute of International Affairs released a report on the continent’s progress towards SDG 16, and a UNU-IAS policy brief presented recommendations on governance and national implementation to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs.

This SDG Knowledge Weekly brief is the second in a series reviewing publications released around the 2019 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), organized by Goal under review. The following offers a snapshot of select reports and papers on SDGs 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), as well as those which examine progress at the national and regional level.

The SDG Knowledge Weekly brief on Goals 4, 8 and 10 points to IISD Reporting Services’ summary of the 2019 HLPF, noting that key messages from the forum indicated that the world has not collectively matched the ambition level needed to achieve the SDGs. Additional resources on the Forum’s review of the three Goals are provided within the above link.

SDG 13 (Climate Action)

The HLPF conducted its in-depth review of progress towards SDG 13 on 12 July. The SDG Knowledge Hub summary is available here.

The official review of Goal 13 and associated side events all emphasized the interdependency of climate change and other objectives of the 2030 Agenda. One side event addressed how fossil fuel subsidy reform can simultaneously achieve emissions reductions while also accelerating progress towards SDGs 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 3 (good health and well-being), among others.

Linking climate action and progress towards SDG 16, the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI) released a policy brief that articulates how climate change impacts the efficacy of peacebuilding. The authors describe the impacts of climate change on specific aims to: provide peace and security; strengthen governance and justice; and ensure social and economic development. It examines the climate exposure of the top ten countries hosting multilateral peace operations, primarily in Africa and the Middle East, and note the need for:

  • proper assessment of climate-related security risks;
  • increasing cross-agency knowledge exchange and learning; and
  • maximizing synergies, whereby climate action serves as an opportunity to build “sustainable peace.”

SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions)

In discussions surrounding the HLPF’s review of SDG 16, which took place on 12 July, the concept of ‘SDG16+’ was a common topic, given the growing recognition that the Goal is an enabler of the broader 2030 Agenda. The term itself refers to SDG 16, its 12 targets, and 24 targets from seven other Goals that are linked to the aspirations of peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Titled, ‘Empowering Civil Society for National Reporting and Action on SDG16’ a report produced by the Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (TAP) Network, the Asia Development Alliance (ADA) and Forus, compiles national civil society case studies and spotlight reports on Goal 16, to analyze the range of approaches and methodologies to such reports. It showcases national-level studies, and offers guidance for civil society spotlight reports as well as key policy recommendations on SDG 16+. SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of the report is also available here.

Launched by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), a report titled, ‘Is Africa measuring up to its Goal 16 commitments? The road to HLPF 2019 and beyond,’ takes stock of processes to achieve peace, justice and strong institutions around the region. It notes that, “despite being seen as beset by governance shortcomings, African countries are among the most committed and innovative” in terms of SDG 16 implementation and monitoring. For example, African National Statistical offices, through the Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA), have successfully piloted the collection and analysis of key governance statistics. However, the report highlights a need for increased investment to help national governments produce data on SDG 16 targets. The authors also point to a need for policies designed to address the deficiencies already revealed by existing data.

A policy brief from the UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) presents recommendations on governance and national implementation to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs. The brief analyzes 99 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) submitted between 2016 and 2018 to draw out areas of progress and common themes. It notes the importance of developing robust governance mechanisms to enable national and local governments alike to address complex sustainability issues. The brief highlights that addressing such issues also demands the creation of links across sectors and actors, as well as the integration of the SDGs into national and local budgetary processes, in order to improve policy coherence.

A plethora of additional papers and events were prominent at the HLPF, as written up on the SDG Knowledge Hub:

National and Regional Level Assessments

At the national level, the UK’s International Development Committee has launched an inquiry on the country’s support for SDG 16, how SDG 16+ has informed the UK’s development and other priorities, and the extent to which the government has an effective implementation plan for the future. The Committee is accepting written submissions on the inquiry until 27 September 2019.

The SDG Network Scotland, in coordination with the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), Oxfam Scotland and the UWS-Oxfam Partnership, released an independent snapshot review of Scotland’s progress towards the SDGs, with contributions from a breadth of Scottish civil society organizations. Titled, ‘On Target for 2030?’, the report describes progress towards each Goal, evaluates the extent to which Scotland appears to be committed towards achieving it, notes areas where the country can improve, and provides links to further relevant reading. Common themes across the Goals and chapters include a flag that although there is “clear policy and political commitment on all of the Goals in Scotland, more needs to be done in order to meet the 2030 targets,” and that there is a lack of available, high-quality Scotland-specific data in some policy areas. The report’s introduction offers context on where the report and review of Scottish progress fits within evaluations conducted at the UK-level, and a summary blog on the report is available here.

Assessing the EU’s progress, the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) presents components of the region’s reporting to the HLPF, with a focus on European trends relating to SDGs 13 and 16. The paper, titled ‘Assessing and accelerating the EU progress on SDGs in 2019,’ finds that although the EU is generally making progress towards the two Goals, a comprehensive framework for monitoring is lacking. It further finds that adopting an overarching EU strategy on the SDGs would help set EU-level targets and more concrete commitments.

SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of an independent spotlight report on progress towards each of the Goals is also available, here, with a focus on “reshaping governance for sustainable development.”

Additional issues of the SDG Knowledge Weekly can be found here.

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