Climate change key focus in UN’s new dev’t goals

Jed Alegado

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Climate change key focus in UN’s new dev’t goals
Six of out of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals are geared towards mitigating the impacts of climate change, aside from the stand-alone goal No. 13 'Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts'
MANILA, Philippines – As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) end this year, world leaders have reach a concensus on a new development agenda. The United Nations (UN) member countries have finalized the text of the Sustainable Development Goals, the global development agenda which UN member countries will collectively try to achieve in the next 15 years. 
The UN has announced that member countries have agreed on the final document titled “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” a universal and integrated development agenda which 193 UN member countries, represented by world leaders, is set to adopt on September 25. 
The SDGs replace the MDGs, which was adopted in 2000. The SDGs contain an ambitious agenda that features 17 new sustainable development goals targeted to be achieve by 2030. (READ: UN-backed dev’t network launched in PH)
Focus on climate change 
Speaking before civil society organizations, members of the academe, and government officials during a lecture in Makati, Columbia University’s Earth Institute Director Professor Jeffrey Sachs said that unlike its predecessor – the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the SDGs is “much more focused on the area of climate change.” 
Sachs explained that SDGs define new set of goals using the triple bottomline approach – “economic growth which is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.”
“We are already feeling the impacts of climate change. Category 5 (typhoons) like Haiyan is an example of how growth can be dismantled because of climate change impacts and disasters. I want the Philippines to be a leader in sustainable development. There is much work to be done here,” Sachs said.  
Sachs, who also serves as a special advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the MDGs, also pointed out that at least 6 of the 17 SDGs are geared towards mitigating the impacts of climate change aside from the stand-alone goal No. 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. (READ: Sustainable goals: From the MDGs to the SDGs)
The six goals linked to climate change are the following: 
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • 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

Sachs also echoed the need for world leaders to agree on a “fair and binding deal” during the Paris climate talks in December 2015. For Sachs, “Conference of the Parties (COP) 15 or the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 failed because China and the US did not see eye to eye.” 

PH action on climate change and SDGs

For the Philippine government’s Climate Change Commission, achieving SDGs means ensuring poor and vulnerable communities to find a way to live sustainably.

“We have started to look at the local climate change adaptation plans – natural resource assessments, renewable energy plans, of communities,” Climate Change Commission Vice-Chair Lucille Sering said. (READ: Crunch time as PH prepares for Paris climate summit)

Sering, however, is quick to point out that climate change and sustainable development need a global response. “Developing countries which have the capacity like the Philippines must also share.”

Sering also reiterated that the Philippines will submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC secretariat by October. “We are now preparing our country’s energy plan and integrating the 17 SDGs toward a low emission development pathway for the country,” she concluded. 

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