2030 Agenda Requires Collective, Cross-Sector Approach, Speakers Urge as High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Continues | Tunisia News Gazette

2030 Agenda Requires Collective, Cross-Sector Approach, Speakers Urge as High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Continues

Meeting the broad goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would require collaboration and commitment across all relevant sectors, speakers said today, as the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development continued into its second day.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require a comprehensive, interlinked approach, participants stressed. Under the Forum’s theme of “Ensuring that no one is left behind”, panel discussions were held on “Food security and sustainable agriculture, climate action, sustainable oceans and terrestrial ecosystems: Adopting a nexus approach”, “Creating peaceful and more inclusive societies and empowering women and girls” and “Science-policy interface: New ideas, insights and solutions”.

Together, panel participants highlighted the inextricable nexus between the various elements of sustainable development. Addressing such wide-ranging issues as hunger, climate change, gender inequality and education, among others, would be critical to the overall success of the future development agenda, underscored representatives of Governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society, many of whom warned against the risks of working in silos.

Indeed, if no one was to be left behind in 2030, the notion of inclusiveness could not be treated as an afterthought, emphasized Wu Hongbo, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, as he presented the 2016 Global Sustainable Development Report.

During the day, panellists pointed out areas that needed critical attention and action. If world leaders were to fulfil their development commitments, hunger must be tackled as a critical priority, said Deborah Fulton, Secretary of the Committee on World Food Security, pointing to the more than 790 million food insecure people worldwide. Poverty, weather impacts, unstable markets, unemployment, protracted crises and political instability all contributed to hunger, profoundly affecting the most vulnerable, she continued.

Echoing that point, Evelyn Nguleka, Secretary-General of the World Farmers’ Organization, said it was a shocking irony that many of the millions of people around the world who went to bed hungry were farmers. “Something is going wrong,” she went on to say, noting that farmers were being forced to produce more food with less support, despite the fact that the population was growing.

Other speakers brought up obstacles that only exacerbated such pressing challenges. Climate change increased both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, compromising food security, underscored Omoyemen Lucia Odigie-Emmanuel, President of the Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research. Emphasizing the linkages between climate change and the 2030 Agenda, she said “we must make these Goals work for people.”

Gender equality and women’s empowerment were at the heart of many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, recalled Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). Elements that were critical to the achievement of the Development Goals were ensuring women’s economic empowerment, universal access to sexual and reproductive health, redistribution of unpaid care work, equitable participation in political leadership and ending all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful practices. Meeting those aspirations would require the active engagement of all stakeholders – Governments, civil society, women’s movements, youth, indigenous peoples, faith-based organizations and the private sector, she said.

The Forum will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 13 July, to continue its session.

Panel I

A panel discussion on “Food security and sustainable agriculture, climate action, sustainable oceans and terrestrial ecosystems – adopting a nexus approach” was moderated by Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues of the Seychelles. It featured the following speakers: Deborah Fulton, Secretary of the Committee on World Food Security; Evelyn Nguleka, Secretary-General of the World Farmers’ Organization; Omoyemen Lucia Odigie-Emmanuel, President of the Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research; and Jake Rice, Chief Scientist-Emeritus at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Mr. JUMEAU said the Sustainable Development Goals would not be achieved if they were implemented in silos. As such, the discussion would focus on the nexus between various elements of sustainable development that must be approached through a comprehensive, interlinked approach.

Ms. FULTON stressed that hunger was one of the major causes of unequal development around the world. If leaders were serious about leaving no one behind, hunger was something that must be tackled. There were more than 790 million food insecure people worldwide, she said, questioning why in the twenty-first century that dynamic had persisted. The root causes of hunger were known, but they were complex. Poverty, weather impacts, unstable markets, unemployment, protracted crises and political instability all contributed to hunger and most negatively impacted those who were most vulnerable. Natural resources were being depleted at an unsustainable rate, which had resulted in lost biodiversity, unhealthy oceans and degraded ecosystems. Addressing such issues required an understanding of how they were interlinked and must be addressed in a holistic, multidisciplinary manner.

Ms. NGULEKA emphasized that there were millions that were sleeping without food, many of which were farmers. “Something is going wrong,” she said. The people producing food, including those in breeding and fishing sectors, should have access to it. To achieve the new development agenda, more must also be done to address farmers’ needs. Farmers were being forced to produce more food with less at a time when the population was growing. It was time to break down the walls that separated policymakers, the private sector and farmers to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals were achieved. Technology would be instrumental to those efforts. Farmers needed to be able to borrow money at a reasonable rate. Droughts, pests and diseases also presented formidable challenges, which was why it was important that farmers were able to link up with the private sector to maximize innovations that could address those issues.

Ms. ODIGIE-EMMANUEL said climate change increased the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, which affected food insecurity. Increasing agricultural productivity was a key element of addressing food insecurity. There was a need to take into account the interrelated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals. An integrated approach whereby all the Goals were viewed as one was of great importance. Many people throughout the world were living below the poverty line and did not have access to food. There was a need for collaboration between all the sectors that were working on the 2030 Agenda. The means of implementation at the global level could not be separated from the nexus of the Goals. Financing must recognize the interrelated nature of the Development Goals. “We must make these Goals work for people,” she said, including women, children and rural people.

Mr. RICE said 70 per cent of the planet was occupied by water and there was no way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without thinking about oceans in a meaningful way. Solving the challenges of climate change would require a deep understanding of oceans. There were many forums that talked about the conservation of biodiversity in the oceans, but there needed to be more focus on how they could contribute to addressing hunger and food insecurity. Oceans must be part of the dialogue, not as an afterthought, but rather as a core part of discussions. The international community needed to integrate the land and oceans into a global, Earth-wide response to the many important challenges addressed by the future development agenda.

During the ensuing discussion, delegates shared concerns and experiences.

The representative of Italy said Sustainable Development Goal 2 on the development of rural areas was highly relevant for many countries. To achieve sustainable development, there must be greater emphasis placed on the complexities and nexus between agriculture, food security, nutrition, health, education and climate change.

A representative of the major group for local authorities said it was unclear how a “nexus” approach to sustainable development would be concretely applied on the ground. The High-level Political Forum should serve as an important platform for exchanging concrete ideas in that regard.

A representative of the major group for people with disabilities said various challenges, including famine and war, affected those with disabilities in a disproportionate manner. He questioned how the international community could commit itself to leaving no one behind without taking into consideration the needs of millions of persons with disabilities.

The representative of Finland stressed that the importance of food security could not be overemphasized and would require a nexus approach. Finland had launched a food security pilot aimed at creating new modes of cooperation.

The representative of Saudi Arabia detailed his country’s comprehensive plan for sustainable development which focused efforts in a collaborative manner to protect Saudi Arabia’s environment and natural resources. Addressing climate change would require adhering to the principles of mutual, but differentiated responsibilities.

The representative of Palau highlighted the critical importance of strong national institutions for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The United Nations development system had a key role to play in that regard. Conservation actions must not be disproportionately transferred to small island developing States.

A representative of the major group for workers and trade unions noted that agriculture, more than any other sector, was subjected to climate change. There needed to be an end to the unjust situation whereby farmers were losing their jobs due to the adverse effects of climate change.

A representative of the major group for indigenous peoples said there must be greater opportunities for dialogue in which indigenous peoples could participate in national sustainable development programmes.

The representative of Kenya noted that post-harvest storage was a unique issue in some parts of the world. She also noted that many people no longer wanted to consume traditional foods, which presented unique challenges.

Ms. NGULEKA, responding to the delegate of Italy, agreed that agriculture was a primary employer in many countries. The important role that farmers could play in creating jobs and helping economies to grow could not be overstated.

Also participating were the representatives of the Maldives and New Zealand. Speakers representing major groups for older persons and for children and youth also participated.

Panel II

The panel on “Creating peaceful and more inclusive societies and empowering women and girls” was moderated by Irene Khan, Director-General of the International Law Development Organization (IDLO) and featured: Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); Beatrice Ayuru, Founder of Lira Integrated School; and Robert Berg, Chair of the Alliance for Peacebuilding and Trustee at the World Academy of Arts and Science. The lead discussants were Gaia Gozzo, Head of Governance at CARE International, and Anca-Ruxandra Gliga, advocate at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and the major group for children and youth.

Ms. PURI said gender equality was at the heart of the future development agenda. The 2030 Agenda emphasized that the human rights of women and girls mattered given the fact that they represented more than half of the world’s population. It was noteworthy that all the Development Goals included women’s economic empowerment, universal access to sexual and reproductive health, redistribution of unpaid care work, equal participation in political leadership and ending all forms of discrimination, violence and harmful practices. To move forward, it would take all stakeholders, including Governments, civil society, women’s movements, youth, indigenous peoples, faith-based organizations and the private sector.

Mr. BERG said that conflict had changed over time and required very different strategic approaches. There was now a bottom-up, community-based way of looking at conflict, which was different than a more traditional approach. Women had an important role to play in addressing conflict and should be included more frequently and recognized as peacemakers. Sustainable Development Goal 16 highlighted the importance of teaching young women and men peacebuilding. When civil society was stifled, it could not work for peace, as it should. There must be revitalized efforts within the United Nations system to advocate for civil society to have a strong voice. More must be done to push back against the erosion of democracy in countries around the world.

Ms. AYURU stressed that education was the answer to many of the challenges facing women and girls. Education systems that did not support women and girls contributed to poverty. “We are left out,” she said. Many schools did not look at talent development or entrepreneurship, particularly with regard to girls. Also, many education systems focused too heavily on theoretical rather than practical approaches, which made learning difficult and left children ill-equipped to find work. There was too much emphasis on ensuring that students passed exams, rather than making sure they actually understood what was being taught. To make a difference, there was a need to integrate entrepreneurship into education systems.

Ms. GOZZO was concerned about the dearth of gender and age disaggregated data. Data collection systems at the national level were fairly strong, but not at the subnational and local levels. There was a need to start measuring women’s participation in informal settings, since women often started their careers in those spaces. Measuring the scale and impact of women political activists was a central component of analysing the impact of women’s participation. When properly analysed, such disaggregated data could reveal important inequalities in many different sectors, including political participation.

Ms. GLIGA said change could not happen without the clear political will to address oppressive policies. Civil society and a culture of volunteering could change lives in a very profound way, particularly youth-led initiatives. Young people often shared local and indigenous knowledge and, in the case of conflict, youth were more than just a vulnerable group. They could also serve as responders and peacebuilders. The lack of access to education had a long-term impact on the creation of durable peace in post-conflict situations. Change would happen once there were greater efforts to speak more with women and youth, instead of speaking about them. There needed to be a deeper understanding of their needs and perspectives.

The representative of China said it was necessary to improve laws and regulations that ensured women’s physical security, rights and interests. More focus should be placed on providing skills training for women and to help them participate in the labour market.

The representative of the League of Arab States said the region was characterized by instability and conflict, which made peace and security a critical component of any efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals there.

A speaker for the major group for women said violence, exclusion and structural inequalities often prevented women from being able to participate in peace processes.

The representative of Denmark recalled that more than 120 countries currently had laws that treated men and women differently, which was fundamentally unjust and economically inefficient. For positive economic growth, every citizen needed the opportunity to play an active role.

The representative of Iraq noted that in her country, women had acquired leading positions within the Government, despite the fact that many Iraqi women had suffered abhorrent crimes in areas controlled by terrorist organizations.

The representative of South Africa recalled that the 2030 Agenda recognized the critical importance of women in societies. Women should be actively involved in all aspects of the future development agenda, including the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Sweden and Benin.

Panel III

The third panel discussion, titled “Science-policy interface: New ideas, insights and solutions”, was chaired by Hector Alejandro Palma Cerna (Honduras), Vice-President of the Council. Wu Hongbo, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the 2016 Global Sustainable Development Report. Moderated by Lucilla Spini, Head of Science Programmes at the International Council for Science, the panel featured: Gueladio Cisse, Head of the Ecosystem Health Sciences Unit at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute; E. William Colglazier, senior scholar at the Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Aurelian Decamps, assistant professor at Kedge Business School, Sustainability Literacy Test and the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative; Donovan Guttieres, focal point for the Youth Science-Policy Interface Platform of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth and policy focal point for the Youth Gateway, the Global Youth Partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals; Peter Messerli, director of the Centre for Development and Environment at the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern; and Patrick Paul Walsh, professor and Chair of International Development Studies of the School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin.

Mr. HONGBO, introducing the 2016 Global Sustainable Development Report, said that, true to its mandate, the Report had been designed as an “assessment of assessments” and endeavoured to be policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive. Among other things, the Report explored ways in which new and emerging issues identified by science could be screened and analysed for the benefit of the High-level Political Forum. It described ways that the science-policy interface could inform decision-making in several key areas, including by asking who was at risk of being left behind and how policies could reach those people. Among other key messages, the report underscored the importance of taking into account the dynamic nature of deprivation and inequality and of ensuring that new groups of people did not fall behind. Whether strategies succeeded in reaching those left behind depended on many factors, from strategy implementation to country-specific contexts.

Among strategies discussed in the Report, he said, were those based in nutrition, area-based interventions targeting the poorest people and the provision of adequate housing. Across the Report, it was clear that, if no one was to be left behind in 2030, the notion of inclusiveness could not be treated as an afterthought. Instead, it should be an integral part of design, research, development and infrastructure design. The Report presented a range of perspectives of scientists on the role of technology for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as a particular focus on women, indigenous people, people with disabilities and children and youth. Among other things, the science-policy interface could help to identify new and emerging issues for the High-level Political Forum. Concluding, he underscored the importance of preserving a window for the interaction of science and policy, noting that “science needs to be responsive to the questions that this new agenda puts forward”.

Ms. SPINI proposed that the panel focus on the notion of power, which could help to ensure that no one was left behind in the new sustainable development agenda. Power could emerge from science in a number of ways, she said, citing the example of life-saving vaccines. She raised a number of questions for the panellists, asking them to describe new ideas, insights and solutions to help to ensure that no one was left behind and to highlight areas where more scientific efforts were needed. She also asked them to name the scientific breakthrough that had most inspired them.

Mr. COLGLAZIER cited the discovery of gravity waves as his favourite recent scientific breakthrough. Noting that the key mandate of the Global Sustainable Development Report was to strengthen the science-policy interface in the United Nations, he said the drafting of the Report over the last three years had been a true collaboration and that it had contained useful insights. Among the recommendations detailed in the 2016 edition was the notion of strengthening national systems of innovation, the importance of integrated assessments and the need to put science at the service of inclusion. Turning to the future of the Global Sustainable Development Report, he said it could better mirror the work of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and that the two bodies could work together, as there was much overlap in their work.

Mr. CISSE said he had been inspired by his work as regional coordinator for West Africa working for global change. Underscoring the importance of neutrality and sensitivity in science, he said scientists were better suited than policymakers to delve into a number of development issues. He noted that the Sustainable Development Goals themselves were built on knowledge, adding that there was a need both to face existing gaps and be open to addressing emerging challenges. Areas that required more scientific effort included nutrition and health, he said.

Mr. WALSH said he had been inspired by the work of his students, and stressed the need to ask not only what science could do for Member States, but what Member States could do for science in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Development was presently too focused on the economic pillar and needed to become more sustainable in terms of social outcomes and environmental elements. Stressing that Member States could not implement the sustainable development agenda alone without other stakeholders and major groups, he went on to propose that the experts selected to synthesize the Global Sustainable Development Report be nominated from a wider pool and that the Report be issued once annually.

Mr. DECAMPS stressed the need to maximize the impact of science in implementing practical solutions, calling for the engagement of multiple stakeholder partnerships in order to expand the dialogue. He proposed the creation of spaces for sharing best practices in science. Assessing and measuring the impact of scientific innovation on development was critical, he said, highlighting The Future We Want, the outcome document of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. He had co-founded a non-governmental organization that managed the Sustainability Literacy Test tool, which aimed to engage students and help them measure their own sustainability literacy.

Mr. GUTTIERES said that, as a young scientist, he had been inspired by recent work to develop “labs on chips”, which, among other things, could test for diseases on the ground. Urging a stronger articulation of the science-policy interface, he said inclusion should be broadened, adding that there should be more frequent reporting given the exponential rate of scientific progress. In addition, there was a need for more creativity in channelling scientific data and evidence to policymakers. He described a scientific initiative being carried out by young scientists around the world, which was being coordinated by the major group for children and youth, and recommended increasing the role of diverse stakeholders in the process of synthesizing the Global Sustainable Development Report.

Mr. MESSERLI described inspiring studies on land use, noting a historic opportunity for science to help drive the 2030 Agenda. Policy could empower science to be more engaged, he said, stressing the need to create coherent policies and pinpoint pathways towards sustainable development. Eminent scientists, who were often focused on niche areas, were not always the best ones. Instead, there was a need to reach out to the community of scientists and “find the pioneers”. Scientists needed to be given an important role within the Forum and the link between the science-policy interface and the Global Sustainable Development Report needed to be clarified and strengthened.

In the ensuing dialogue, a number of speakers described experiences integrating the science-policy interface into national sustainable development plans and programmes.

The representative of Finland, in that regard, said national efforts had strengthened a dialogue with the scientific community and established a Sustainable Development Expert Panel, which included scientists, to provide impartial and evidence-based policy support. In addition, Finland had conducted a science-based analysis of gaps in its implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which would be presented as part of its voluntary presentation next week.

The representative of China stressed the need to eliminate the obstacles to technology transfers so that all people could benefit from science and technology and no one would be left behind. China had established “demonstration zones” for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and was striving to make them replicable on a broad scale. China had also made progress in green development, in particular through the establishment of a green technological bank.

The representative of South Africa said sound policies depended on taking informed and evidence-based decisions. However, she asked the panellists why most scientific policy advisers were often older and male.

A representative of the major group for children and youth said young scientists and engineers were already making the world a cleaner, safer and better place. It was critical to provide adequate space for the participation of young scientists, she said, calling for the promotion of intergenerational and interdisciplinary collaboration in the science-policy interface.

A representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) highlighted the role of nuclear technology and techniques in improving human well-being. The peaceful use of nuclear applications was widespread and provided a number of important sustainable development benefits, he said.

A representative of the major group for indigenous people said some technological solutions had resulted in increased inequalities and impoverishment of their communities, as had been the case with the creation of many hydroelectric projects that had destroyed their lands and led to displacement and marginalization.

Speakers also raised a number of questions. The representative of Australia asked the panellists to describe successes they had had in engaging policymakers, while the representative of the United States asked them how to overcome the “communication failure” between scientists and policymakers.

The panellists then took the floor to respond to those questions and comments.

Mr. WALSH said science-policy briefs were the way to “keep the conversation going” at every session of the High-level Political Forum. “We cannot take our eye off the ball on emerging issues,” he stressed. Responding to a question raised by the representative of Australia, he said working with policymakers had been a major struggle and lobby groups must be kicked out of that process.

Mr. MESSERLI stressed the need for more collaboration between policy and science, including traditional knowledge. It was important to understand that problem definitions were based on evaluations, he said, noting that the big opportunity of the 2030 Agenda was that it provided strong positions from which to ask research questions.

Mr. CISSE said he hoped the dialogue on science-policy interface would happen more frequently at different levels, including the national level. He also underscored the need to ensure that the best practices described by Member States were shared on a regular basis.

Mr. COLGLAZIER said scientists were often pleased to hear that the United Nations was interested in science and willing to devote time and energy to related issues. He underscored the importance of strengthening the science-technology ecosystem in developing countries. To the representatives of the United States and Australia, he said the key was for scientists to listen to the needs of policymakers.

Mr. DECAMPS emphasized the need for accessibility of data and for the continued engagement of different stakeholders. He also expressed hope that calls to make the science-policy interface more diverse would be realized.

Mr. GUTTIERES said it would be interesting to further explore the synergies between existing science and technology frameworks. Noting that science and technology could not be developed in a vacuum, he called for more creativity in achieving truly interdisciplinary, intergenerational dialogue on the science-policy interface.

Also participating were the representatives of Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Switzerland, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, as well as the European Union. Also participating were representatives speaking on behalf of the major groups representing women, persons with disabilities, business and industry and non-governmental organizations. The civil society organization Together 2030 also took part.

Source: United Nations

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