When addressing current and future social, economic, and environmental challenges that are facing the planet there is now an established consensus that these challenges are interlinked and must be addressed through an integrated approach. The environment, along with social and economic factors, must play an important role when aiming to achieve truly sustainable development on a global scale. Only through integration of the three dimensions will it be possible to achieve the transformative change required to secure long-term human and environmental well-being. 2014 is the year when the future development agenda will be set, and building on this momentum, the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP has decided to make SDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including Sustainable Consumption and Production the key theme for Ministerial High-Level Segment of the first UNEA.
The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals including Sustainable Consumption and Production
The concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in 2012. The objective was to produce a set of universally applicable goals that balances the three dimensions of sustainable development: the environmental, social, and economic. At present, the Post-2015 and SDG processes are moving rapidly towards their conclusion in 2015, when a new universal Sustainable Development Agenda, likely to extend until 2030, will be launched. Governments, international organizations and the broader civil society are actively participating in this overall process.
The Post-2015 Development Agenda will build on the progress achieved through the MDGs: eight goals established after the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. At the same time, it will address persistent issues and new challenges facing people and the planet. The MDGs faced criticism for not sufficiently covering the environmental dimension of sustainable development, and for not addressing interlinkages between its three dimensions. Instead of addressing the dimensions of sustainable development separately the SDGs are expected to adopt an approach that fully integrates the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The task of preparing a proposal on the SDGs and developing a set of measurable targets and indicators was assigned to the intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly. The 30-member OWG was established in January 2013 and is expected to submit a report by September 2014 with their proposal on the Post-2015 Agenda and SDGs.
The focus areas of the SDGs, and how sustainable consumption and production (SCP) will be addressed in them, is currently under negotiation by Member States. The High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 development agenda Experts on the High Level Political Forum of the Post-2015 development agenda have reaffirmed that the adoption of SCP in a world of limited resources is an essential requirement for sustainable development. Many Member States have expressed similar views in their interventions in the current negotiations in the Open Working Group on SDGs in New York.
At Rio+20, world leaders adopted the Ten-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP). They also recognized that SCP was a universal concern, and that developed countries should provide leadership in promoting the shift to SCP patterns.
Member states and civil society alike are concerned that the SDGs and Post-2015 Agenda do not become an “unfunded” mandate. Therefore, another process underway is an expert-led group of member states discussing the architecture for financing sustainable development after 2015. The Inter-governmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance (ICESDF) is also expected to submit its report by September, after which the General Assembly 69 will start deliberations on finalizing the Post-2015 Agenda. The Post-2015 Agenda also needs new, innovative and transformative means of implementation, including: new partnerships, institutions that can work in an integrated manner, technology transfer, capacity building, information access, and monitoring and reporting for accountability. The 10YFP has the potential to be an integral part of these means of implementation.