“This is huge: Almost every country in the world just signed on to the Paris Agreement on climate change – thanks to American leadership,” said US President Barack Obama at the recent adoption of the Paris Agreement to stop global warming at the COP21 conference.
British PM David Cameron said, “Today’s climate change deal means our grandchildren will see we did our duty in securing the future of our planet.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “[The] Paris Agreement sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace, and ensure a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”
After the French Foreign Minister said, “I see there is no objection; Paris climate accord is now adopted!” cheers and applause erupted at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference.
Tourism leaders are also applauding the Paris Agreement and want to have a say in its implementation.
“The International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) has been working to get tourism boards to join together on green growth and travel,” said ICTP Chairman Juergen T. Steinmetz. “This is a historic step that has been taken in the world, and the tourism industry must be included as this important movement goes forward.”
“Especially for island state nations like Vanuata, Maldives, Seychelles, to name just a few, tourism and climate change is a matter of survival where tourism is the leading economic earner. The Paris Agreement assures the world is finally focused as one on this undeniably critical issue for the survival of our planet.”
ICTP is a grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. The coalition advocates sustainable aviation growth, streamlined travel formalities, fair coherent taxation, and investments for jobs. ICTP supports the UN Millennium Development Goals, the UN World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and a range of programs that underpin them.
For 15 years, the world community has worked to achieve a comprehensive set of goals and targets called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – launched in 2000 to tackle poverty, economic and environment inequity, and strategies for effective development. The MDGs concluded this year, and a new set of goals to replace them have been in design and negotiation for some time. These new objectives – now called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are now final, offering global priorities for sustainable development beyond 2015. Figure 1 lists the 17 overarching SDGs. Each one is accompanied by specific targets and measured by specific indicators. Individual governments will be responsible for setting their own specific national targets based on their own priorities and circumstances.
While the major overarching objective is the eradication of poverty, the SDGs cover a lot of ground, including changing unsustainable (and promoting sustainable) patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource base. Readers should look at the comprehensive list of goals and the more detailed set of targets, but for those especially interested in the subject of global freshwater, there is a subset of goals and targets. This summary lists those by Goal and Target related to water.
Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- 3.3: by 2030 end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases
- 3.9: by 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- 6.1 by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
- 6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
- 6.3 by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and increasing recycling and safe reuse by x% globally
- 6.4 by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
- 6.5 by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
- 6.6 by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
- 6.a by 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
- 6.b support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
11.5 by 2030 significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of affected people and decrease by y% the economic losses relative to GDP caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with the focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- 12.4 by 2020 achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle in accordance with agreed international frameworks and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- 15.1 by 2020 ensure conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
- 15.8 by 2020 introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems, and control or eradicate the priority species
The annual Water for Life Best Practices Award aims to acknowledge and promote efforts to meet international commitments made on water and related issues by 2015. The award recognises outstanding projects that are working to ensure sustainable long-term management of water resources and to help achieve the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals, Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
The DWS/WESSA Eco-Schools Water Project – officially launched at the Youth Summit on Water and Climate Change in July 2014 – encourages water conservation and the wise use of water resources at school level from grades R to 12. The 50 participating schools are required to set up a water action project that includes the entire school and members of the local community.
The project’s main objective is to strengthen water and sanitation education in South Africa through implementation of the international Eco-School Programme’s seven step framework for Education for Sustainable Development learning and change. These steps guide schools through a learning process which promotes water conservation and sanitation education, as well as engaging learners in enquiry-based learning methods which empower them to better understand their local water context and to take action to improve this.
The project has a strong inclusivity focus, emphasising public participation, participatory learning processes and action taking. Activities are focused on better water management and ensuring water security for the more disadvantaged communities that may not have access to potable water. This is especially problematic in areas where water is increasingly scarce due to climate change and poor catchment management practices.
The success of the project, now recognised by this significant international award, is an example of government and civil society organisations working together effectively in the education and environmental conservation fields.
Eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 will not be achieved by rich countries giving money to poor countries , but will require financing, trade and partnerships from public and private sectors in all countries, say experts from the World Resources Institute.
The question of how the world can end extreme poverty and improve human wellbeing will take on new urgency in 2015, as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire and a new set of goals – the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are finalized.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “Synthesis Report,” outlining the main elements of the post-2015 agenda, provides strong guidance regarding what sustainable development should look like and what world leaders must do over the next 15 years to achieve it. After two years of crafting the “what” of sustainable development, the year ahead must focus on how to get it done.
The central ambition is bold: the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030. To make that happen, the SDGs will need to shift away from the twentieth-century model of development, in which rich countries gave money to poor countries, mostly to feed the hungry and improve health and education. The MDGs were remarkably successful in several of these areas. But the picture has changed significantly since then. A new set of emerging economies – including China, India, Brazil, and South Africa – is racing to modernize. The private sector is assuming a greater role in economic development. And environmental degradation is threatening the gains of recent decades.
The SDGs will have to transcend the idea of a planet divided starkly between those who give aid and those who receive it. The new goals must account for a world undergoing rapid globalization, in which all countries have assets as well as needs. Today’s challenges go beyond health, food, and education. The SDGs will have to integrate these concerns with the demands of the growing global middle class, the effects of shifting political and economic power, and the challenges of environmental sustainability, including climate change.
Three ingredients will be essential to achieving the goals: financing mechanisms, trade, and partnerships. Forty years after rich countries promised to dedicate 0.7% of GDP to aid, their commitments remain at less than half that level. Though most emerging economies no longer rely on aid, it remains crucially important for low-income countries. That said, even if aid targets were met, the shift to sustainable development will cost much more than what aid alone can cover. We need to look for new sources of funds, ensure that government spending is aligned with the sustainable-development agenda, and target those areas where the money can do the most good.
In much of the developing world, investing in sustainable development is complicated by the fact that tax revenues are too low to pay for what is needed. This is not always a matter of raising tax rates; it is also often a matter of collecting what people and companies owe. Closing loopholes and cracking down on evasion are two ways to ensure that taxes are collected. The OECD estimates that a dollar of aid spent on improving tax collection yields an average of $350 in revenue. A shared commitment that builds on initiatives by the G-8 would make tax evasion that relies on tax havens or money laundering harder to hide.
Governments cannot deliver a sustainable future alone. The private sector also has an important role to play in energy, agriculture, and urban development, including transport and water systems that can drive innovation and economic opportunity. While levels of private finance dwarf international public finance, directing these private funds to programs that reach the poorest and protect the environment requires the right policy incentives, such as a price on carbon, regulatory certainty, and the wise use of public money.
Trade boosts domestic production and generates revenue that can help pay for development. There have been important gains in market access in the past 15 years: 80% of developing countries’ exports to developed countries are now tariff-free, while average tariffs are down overall.
But non-tariff barriers can cost exporting countries more than tariffs do. What is needed is an international partnership that helps low-income countries integrate into the globalized marketplace while improving environmental and labor standards. The SDGs can create political momentum for these efforts, which could then be framed by the World Trade Organization in December 2015.
Making development sustainable will also require accelerated innovation and diffusion of technology between now and 2030. A global partnership could spur investment in research and development and ease the flow of information among scientists, business people, and policymakers.
Such new and creative partnerships can make progress on complex problems that governments, civil society, or the private sector cannot or will not solve alone. For example, the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization), a partnership comprising international organizations, philanthropies, governments, companies, and research organizations, has immunized 440 million children since 2000 and helped avert more than six million deaths. We must improve and expand these types of partnerships to other challenges, such as infrastructure, agriculture, and energy.
Between now and September 2015, when heads of state will gather for the UN General Assembly, we have a historic chance to set the world on a more sustainable path that will eradicate poverty and enhance prosperity for all. Ambitious goals provide a firm foundation for a brighter future. Over the coming months, however, leaders must work together to set the world on the right course to realize this vision.
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JOHANNESBURG— South Africa has taken leadership of the United Nations‘ “Group of 77,” during a particularly interesting year for that coalition of developing nations.
The new post puts South Africa in a position both of power and responsibility as the U.N. enters its deadline year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – global targets for developing nations.
The G77 represents a third of the U.N.’s membership, and includes nations as diverse as Bosnia and Herzegovina, a once-war-torn nation that is now striving to join the European Union – and Somalia, a chaotic, violent, woefully underdeveloped nation on Africa’s east coast.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Luwellyn Landers, made clear that he understood the gravity of the situation in his acceptance speech before the group in New York this week. The development goals, he said, will be a top priority.
“This year will prove to be a crucial year in which the various envisaged development processes would demand that we, as a group, remain even more steadfast in promoting the interests of developing countries,” he said. “The MDGs, adopted in 2000, set bold targets for development and were key in forging a global cooperation framework for development. Foremost in our efforts this year will be the evaluation of the progress made in reaching these goals and the negotiation of the post-2015 development agenda.”
But Landers also reminded the world’s superpowers of the collective might of the group. South Africa has repeatedly hinted at its own global ambitions, notably by joining BRICS, the economic bloc that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Landers noted that the Group of 77 will continue to press to upturn the northern hemisphere’s grip on global power. All five of the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the U.S. — are northern nations.
“South-South Cooperation is key for international cooperation and partnerships for development. This is especially in terms of global, regional and country-level efforts to achieve balanced sustainable development,” he said. “We must reiterate that South-South Cooperation is not intended to be a substitute for the obligations and responsibilities of the developed North.”
“Over the last few years, several developing countries have become the key drivers of global growth and their development is having a significant impact on the world economy,” Landers contined. “Growth and economic development in the South has significantly altered the strategic balance of power towards the countries of the South.”
Source: Voice of America