SCIENCE IN UNEP

About the UNEP Post-2015 Discussion Paper 1:
Embedding the Environment in Sustainable Development Goals

The UNEP Post-2015 Discussion Paper 1: Embedding the Environment in Sustainable Development Goals

One of the principal outcomes of Rio+20 was the call to produce a set of universally applicable sustainable development goals (SDGs) that balance the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. But the question was left open as to how to incorporate the environmental and other dimensions into SDGs. This paper addresses various aspects of this question.

The Paper begins with an analysis of lessons learnt from current goals and targets. It was found that successful goals are generally built on a scientific consensus about a particular environmental problem, are embedded in effective governance regimes, are easier to implement because of the availability of solutions, and are underpinned by specific and measurable targets.

Using these and other lessons as a starting point, the Paper proposes a framework for embedding the environment in the SDGs which includes:

  • A rationale and overarching vision for the SDGs - a narrative describing the basis for including environmental sustainability in the SDGs;
  • An integrated approach for embedding environment in goals and targets which proposes basic characteristics and types of goals and targets to be selected;
  • A set of criteria for assessing or proposing goals and targets, and guidance on how to use the criteria; and,
  • A list of best practices for selecting indicators that can effectively support targets.

The development of the Paper was led by the Office of the Chief Scientist working closely with the UNEP Post-2015 Strategic Group and with inputs provided by UNEP’s Divisions, Regional Offices, MEAs and Collaborating Centers, as well by experts across the globe.

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