UNEP and the Post-2015 Agenda
- What are the SDGs?
‘SDGs’ is the common acronym for the Sustainable Development Goals. The concept of SDGs was agreed upon at the Rio+20 Summit (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) in 2012. The SDGs were introduced as a new set of universally applicable goals that balances the three dimensions of sustainable development: the environmental, social, and economic.
In 2015, the SDGs are meant to take over from the current UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have been facing criticism for not sufficiently covering the environmental dimension in development, and for not addressing interlinkages between the three dimensions of sustainable development. Instead of treating the dimensions of development separately, the SDGs are expected to adopt an approach that integrates the social, economic, and environmental dimensions. Integration of these dimensions is believed to be the foundation of sustainable development.
- What is the Post-2015 Development Agenda?
The Post-2015 Development Agenda refers to a process led by the member states, with support from the United Nations and all its agencies. This process aims to define the future global development framework that will succeed the MDGs which end in 2015. The Post 2015 Development Agenda will have SDGs as its core.
- Who chooses the Sustainable Development Goals?
The final set of SDGs will be formulated by member states with the support of the United Nations’ agencies. On the Rio+20 Summit it was decided that the SDGs should be developed in an “inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process open to all stakeholders, with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the General Assembly”. In practical terms, a 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly consisting of member state representatives is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs. Across the world, many processes are continuously feeding into the overall stream of work: governments, international organizations and the broader civil society are actively participating.
- Which countries sit in the Open Working Group?
Member States have decided on a new constituency-based system of representation. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries. An example could be Denmark, Ireland and Norway that together are sharing one seat in the OWG preparing joint statements. The OWG was established on 22nd of January 2013 by decision 67/555 (see A/67/L.48/rev.1) of the General Assembly. A list of members is found here.
- How does the Open Working Group work?
The OWG has two Co-Chairs (Kenya and Hungary) and is facilitating the preparation of the proposal on the SDGs for consideration during the 68th session of the General Assembly from September 2013 to September 2014. They convene in regular thematic sessions in the United Nations Headquarters in New York. From March 2014, the OWG began discussing the draft proposal of goals, targets and indicators, and by September 2014 they are expected to submit their proposal to the General Assembly.
- How does the United Nations support?
The Rio+20 outcome document, The Future We Want, requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to ensure all necessary input to and support for the Open Working Group from the United Nations system, including the establishment of an inter-agency technical support team. The UN System Technical Support Team (UNTST) consists of more than 40 UN entities and works under the UN System Task Team. The UNTST has, among other things, supported the OWG in developing target and indicators on a long list of focus areas.
- What is UNEP’s role?
UNEP’s role is to raise the voice of the environment in the Post-2015 and SDGs processes. As an organization, UNEP works at distilling knowledge to better inform member states and UN entities debates on the environmental dimension in the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The centerpiece for guiding the UNEP Post-2015 and SDGs process is the ‘integrated approach’, aiming at the comprehensive consideration of the most salient issues within the economic, social and environmental dimensions and their interlinkages. UNEP co-leads various thematic groups in the UNTST.
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