: Your SDG news, instantly & lj.sdg : Your SDG news, instantly & lj.sdg en Copyright 2021 & All Rights Reserved. Human development falling behind in ninety per cent of countries: UN report The 2021/22 Human Development Report (HDR) – which is entitled “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World” – paints a picture of a global society lurching from crisis to crisis, and which risks heading towards increasing deprivation and injustice.

Heading the list of events causing major global disruption are the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which have come on top of sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarization.

UN News Human Development Report 2021/2022 - Almost all countries saw reversals in human development in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1)    First back-to-back decline in three decades

For the first time in the 32 years that the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row.

This signals a deepening crisis for many regions, and Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia have been hit particularly hard.

Human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals which make up the 2030 Agenda, the UN’s blueprint for a fairer future for people and the planet.

“The world is scrambling to respond to back-to-back crises”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “We have seen with the cost of living and energy crises that, while it is tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidizing fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make”.

Mr. Steiner went on to call for a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle “interconnected, common challenges”, but acknowledged that the international community is currently “paralyzed in making these changes”.

The study points to insecurity and polarization of views hampering efforts to bring about the solidarity that is needed to tackle the big global challenges, with data suggesting that those who are most insecure are more likely to hold extremist views. This phenomenon was observed even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

© UNICEF/Sandeep Biswas Vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time

2)    COVID-19 is ‘a window into a new reality’

Now into its third year, the pandemic is described in the report as “a window into a new reality”, rather than a detour from business as usual. 

The development of effective vaccines is hailed as a monumental achievement, credited with saving around 20 million lives, and a demonstration of the huge power of innovation married to political will. 

At the same time, the rollout of the vaccines laid bare the huge inequities of the global economy. Access has been paltry in many low-income countries, and women and girls have suffered the most, shouldering more household and caregiving responsibilities, and facing increased violence.

WFP/Kapil Dev The floods in Pakistan are an example of the climate shocks seen around the world

3)    We’re living through a new ‘uncertainty complex’

The successive waves of new COVID-19 variants, and warnings that future pandemics are increasingly likely, have helped to compound a generalized atmosphere of uncertainty that was growing in response to the dizzying pace of technological change, its effect on the workplace, and steadily growing fears surrounding the climate crisis.

The study’s authors warn that the global upheaval of the pandemic is nothing compared to what the world would experience if a collapse in biodiversity were to occur, and societies found themselves having to solve the challenge of growing food at scale, without insect pollinators. “For the first time in human history”, the report declares, “anthropogenic [man-made] existential threats loom larger than those from natural hazards”.

Three layers of today’s “uncertainty complex” are identified: dangerous planetary change, the transition to new ways of organizing industrial societies, and the intensification of political and social polarization.

“It is not just that typhoons are getting bigger and deadlier through human impact on the environment” says the report. “It is also as if, through our social choices, their destructive paths are being directed at the most vulnerable among us”.

ITU Artificial Intelligence has many positive applications.

4)    There is opportunity in uncertainty

Whilst change is inevitable, the ways in which we react are not. Although there are many well-founded fears surrounding the growing use of Artificial Intelligence, there are many demonstrable upsides to the technology, which is, amongst other things, helping to model the impacts of climate change, improve individualized learning, and help in the development of medicines.

One upshot to the post-COVID world is the creation of novel mRNA vaccine technology, which promises a breakthrough in the way that other diseases are treated.

The pandemic has also normalized paid sick leave, voluntary social distancing and self-isolation, all important for our response to future pandemics.

IOM/Jorge Galindo Solar lamps are a clean, cost-effective way to bring lighting to those with no access to electricity

5)    We can chart a new course

The last three years could serve to show what we are capable of, when we move beyond conventional ways of doing things, and lead us to transform our institutions so that they are better suited to today’s world.

According to Mr. Steiner, the analysis contained within the report can help to chart a new course out of the current global uncertainty.

“We have a narrow window to re-boot our systems and secure a future built on decisive climate action and new opportunities for all,” said the development chief.

This new direction involves implementing policies that focus on investment, from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics; insurance, including social protection, to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world; and innovation that helps countries to better respond to whatever challenges come next.

“To navigate uncertainty, we need to double down on human development and look beyond improving people’s wealth or health,” says UNDP’s Pedro Conceição, the report’s lead author. “These remain important. But we also need to protect the planet and provide people with the tools they need to feel more secure, regain a sense of control over their lives and have hope for the future.”

Source: Human development falling behind in ninety per cent of countries: UN report

Fri, 09 Sep 2022 00:15:56 -0500 lj.sdg
Full gender equality 'still centuries away' UNITED NATIONSFull gender equality will take almost 300 years to achieve at the current rate of progress, the United Nations warned in a report on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), saying multiple current crises have aggravated disparities.

"At the current rate of progress, the report estimates that it will take up to 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and at least 40 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments," said the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which compiled the study.

That is very far from the goal of reaching gender equality by 2030, as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

"Global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath, violent conflict, climate change, and the backlash against women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, are further exacerbating gender disparities," UN Women said in a statement together with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

By the end of 2022, an estimated 383 million women and girls will be living in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day, compared to 368 million men and boys, it added, a worrying reversal in the battle to reduce poverty.

There were 44 million women and girls who had been forcibly displaced by the end of 2021 — the highest figure ever — and more than 1.2 billion women and girls of childbearing age living in countries with restrictions on access to abortions.

"It is critical that we rally now to invest in women and girls to reclaim and accelerate progress," said Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women.

"The data show undeniable regressions in their lives made worse by the global crises: in incomes, safety, education and health. The longer we take to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all," she added.

Fri, 09 Sep 2022 00:03:44 -0500 lj.sdg
SDI AOP introduces significant enhancements to dataset for investing in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

New data on negative SDG contributions, methodology enhancements and additional data granularity provide a more comprehensive picture of the market

AMSTERDAMSept. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The Sustainable Development Investments Asset Owner Platform (SDI AOP) and Qontigo, its exclusive distribution partner, have announced significant enhancements to the SDI AOP dataset as part of the August 2022 data release. The data analyzes corporate alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The latest data release introduces negative SDG contribution information to identify revenues generated by products and services that are defined as inconsistent with achieving the UN SDGs.

"Adding negative contribution data, alongside the positive contributions, is the direct result of regular exchanges with our subscribers. As this community is growing, we are integrating their feedback into the development of the data," explained James Leaton, Research Director, SDI AOP.

The approach taken to determine negative SDG contributions follows the same methodology as for the existing positive contributions. The SDI classification focuses on companies' product and service-related contributions to the SDGs based predominantly on revenues.

"An example of a negative contribution is single use plastic packaging which is not consistent with UN SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production and is the primary contributor to marine plastic pollution under UN SDG 14," stated James Leaton.

The SDI AOP works with investors to embed the UN SDGs into their investment processes and integrate SDG contributions into their portfolio management and reporting, enabling target setting and progress monitoring. Alongside the inclusion of negative contributions there were several additional enhancements including methodology refinements relating to the energy transition and built-in indicators of changes in the data.

In response to user demand, the SDI AOP will be increasing the frequency of data releases to quarterly, starting in December 2022. A fixed income mapping was also introduced, to allow users to seamlessly map their instruments to issuer level SDI data.

About SDI Asset Owner Platform

The Sustainable Development Investments Asset Owner Platform (SDI AOP) is responsible for the development and maintenance of the SDI taxonomy and guidance, SDI definitions and SDI classification methodology ( The SDI AOP consists of asset owners who invest in solutions which contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SDI AOP uses revenues associated with a company's products and services as starting points to classify which companies qualify as SDI.

The SDI AOP is comprised of APG, AustralianSuper, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) and PGGM. Its underlying data are available to the market through analytics and index provider Qontigo and can be integrated into any investment process. Currently, the SDI AOP dataset covers 8864 entities across equities and fixed income.

About Qontigo

Qontigo is a leading global provider of innovative index, analytics and risk solutions that optimize investment impact. As the shift toward sustainable investing accelerates, Qontigo enables its clients—financial-products issuers, asset owners and asset managers—to deliver sophisticated and targeted solutions at scale to meet the increasingly demanding and unique sustainability goals of investors worldwide.

Qontigo's solutions are enhanced by both our collaborative, customer-centric culture, which allows us to create tailored solutions for our clients, and our open architecture and modern technology that efficiently integrate with our clients' processes.

Part of the Deutsche Börse Group, Qontigo was created in 2019 through the combination of Axioma, DAX and STOXX. Headquartered in Eschborn, Germany, Qontigo's global presence includes offices in New YorkLondon, Zug and Hong Kong. 

SOURCE Qontigo

Fri, 02 Sep 2022 01:48:04 -0500 lj.sdg
UNGA77: 5 key things to know about the upcoming General Assembly session With just a few weeks to go until the opening of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, the UN diplomatic community, as well as residents of New York City, are bracing for the annual arrival of Heads of State and Government from around the world, after two years of disruption wrought by COVID-19. Many details are still to be confirmed, but here are five things to look out for between 12 and 27 September.

  1. A Hungarian President takes the gavel

A new session means a new President of the General Assembly. The current PGA – as the UN acronym goes - Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives, will bow out, and Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary will take on the mantle for the next twelve months.

The handover will take place on Monday, 12 September; Mr. Shahid will close the 76th session of the GA in the morning, and the 77th session will be officially opened at 3pm the same day (site goes live at that time).

Mr. Kőrösi’s has held several roles within his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, his most recent post being Director of Environmental Sustainability at the Office of the President of Hungary. He has been involved with the UN for several years, and the Presidency probably won’t involve too much of a learning curve: Mr. Kőrösi  served as Vice-President of the General Assembly during the 67th session in 2011-2012.

  1. Transforming Education Summit

As usual, international attention (as well as large numbers of police, and complaints about traffic jams from New York residents) will be centred around the High-Level Debate week, which begins on Tuesday 20 September.

However, the Transforming Education Summit, which takes place the week before at UN Headquarters – on Friday 16, Saturday 17 and Monday 19 September – is billed as a major event by the organization.

Friday is “Mobilization Day”, which will be youth-led and youth-organized, bringing young people’s concerns over their education to decision and policymakers, and will focus on mobilizing the global public, youth, teachers, civil society and others, to support the transformation of education across the world.

The second day is all about solutions, and is designed to be a platform for initiatives that will contribute to transforming education. The day is grouped around five themes (“Thematic Action Tracks”): inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools; learning and skills for life; work and sustainable development; teachers, teaching and the teaching profession; digital learning and transformation; and financing of education.

The third day, on Monday 19 September, is Leaders Day, capitalizing on the fact that so many Heads of State and Government will be descending on New York that week. Expect a host of National Statements of Commitment from these leaders.

UN News/Abdelmonem Makki
SDGs signs displayed at UNHQ in New York.

The day will also feature the presentation of the Summit Youth Declaration and the Secretary-General’s Vision Statement for Transforming Education.

  1. SDG Moment

This year’s SDG Moment, which will take place between 08:30 and 10:00 on Monday 19 September, immediately before Leader’s Day of the Transforming Education Summit, will be an opportunity to refocus attention on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, a blueprint for a fairer future for people and the planet.

Speaking at the High-Level Political Forum – a key annual development forum – in July, Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General, said that transitions in renewable energy, food systems and digital connectivity along with “investments in human capital, financing the opportunities”, are needed in order to turn multiple crises into opportunities.

Ms. Mohammed said that this year’s Moment will be “an opportunity to focus on these deep transitions, and on the work needed to get us back on track. It will also be an important milestone on the way to the 2023 SDG Summit.”

Last year’s Moment was notable for the involvement of Korean megastars BTS, who reflected on the huge disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and challenged the notion that they are part of a “lost COVID generation”.

UNDP China
Women of the Lisu ethnic minority, from Yunnan province, China, in traditional dress.
  1. The rights of minorities

On 18 December 1992, UN Member States adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious, and Linguistic Minorities (UN Declaration on Minority Rights for short), described by the UN as a key instrument to address the political and civil, economic, social, and cultural rights of persons belonging to minorities.

On Wednesday 21 September, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, a High-Level Meeting will take place, as part of the year-long commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Declaration.

Speaking in June, Paolo David, Head of UN Human Rights’ Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section, said that, while the adoption of the Declaration brought hope three decades ago, this feeling was quickly lost due to the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Mr. David noted that minorities continue to be instrumentalised in many conflicts, including in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Today, minorities face unprecedented barriers and challenges, according to the UN. In many countries they deal with modern threats such as online hate speech and are being stripped of citizenship rights.

The event is billed as a chance to take stock of constraints and achievements, share examples of best practice, and set priorities for the future.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
  1. Global Goals Week

The General Debate will overlap with Global Goals Week which, despite the name, is actually a nine-day programme of virtual and in-person events taking place between 16 and 25 September, involving more than 170 partners across civil society, business, academia, and the UN system, to accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There are too many events to list in full here, but they include NYC Climate Week, covering a wide range of climate-related challenges; the UN Private Sector Forum, run by UN Global Compact, which brings together business, the UN and civil society, to address global crises; and the launch of the 2002 Climate Action Project from Take Action Global, which brings classrooms from over 140 countries together, for a series of live interviews, school visits and social media takeovers.

There will be plenty of SDG Media Zone videos to watch during Global Goals Week, with dozens of interesting speakers, including  content creators, influencers, activists and media partners, taking part in panel discussions that will highlight actions and solutions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. The list of speakers will be announced nearer the time, here.

Source: UNGA77: 5 key things to know about the upcoming General Assembly session

Wed, 31 Aug 2022 02:21:24 -0500 lj.sdg
Why is this colorful little wheel suddenly everywhere in Japan? A few years ago, a colorful new accessory suddenly began to appear on the lapels of dark-suited salarymen across Japan: a small badge, shaped like a roulette wheel and divided into 17 rainbow-colored sections.

Soon, the logo was seemingly everywhere, proudly displayed in hip boutiques, at children’s playgrounds and on the websites of Buddhist temples.

The object of that zeal? The 17-point U.N. framework known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

SDGs, as they are called, encourage every nation to become a better place, with such hard-to-argue-against aspirations as ending poverty, improving education and reducing inequality.

But perhaps no country has embraced the campaign as visibly as Japan, where it has offered a chance to demonstrate the country’s good standing as a global citizen — and where image-conscious corporations have jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet.

Today, there are SDGs board games in Japan. SDGs comic books. Children can play on SDGs playgrounds, and travel companies offer SDGs trips, where travelers learn about how Japan is working toward achieving the goals. An animated music video about SDGs by public broadcaster NHK has more than 930,000 views on YouTube.

In the United States, when people have heard of the development goals at all, it is often from rightwing media portraying them as part of a radical socialist plot. A less polarized, more community-oriented (and perhaps less cynical) Japan has coalesced around the goals as a feel-good, and in theory do-good, endeavor.

The goals became official national policy in 2016, when the government established a task force on them under the prime minister. But it wasn’t until the next year — when Japan’s biggest business federation, Keidanren, added them to its charter — that they started appearing on suit jackets nationwide.

Over the past year or two, the term SDGs — referred to in Japan by the English letters — “has really become a part of daily conversation,” said Rie Takeshima, who leads a division of the marketing giant Dentsu that employs 320 people to advise companies on incorporating the goals into their businesses.

“There’s no industry, no company, where SDGs aren’t relevant,” she said.

Perhaps no country has embraced the campaign as visibly as Japan, where it has offered a chance to demonstrate the country’s good standing as a global citizen — and where image-conscious corporations have jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet. | NORIKO HAYASHI / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nearly 40% of Japanese businesses were working toward the goals in 2021, according to a survey by Teikoku Databank, a credit research company.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a sweeping vision for improving the lives of the world’s people by 2030, agreed to seven years ago by the United Nations’ membership.

The goals are as ambitious as they are ill defined. In Japan, the government has portrayed both its poverty alleviation efforts and its highly contentious whaling program as examples of its pursuit of the U.N. objectives.

Whales, the argument goes, consume a ruinous quantity of fish, and controlling their population is critical for preserving the oceans’ diversity. An online video from an industry association recommends eating the mammals “to protect the balance of the marine ecosystem and contribute to marine SDGs!”

While hardly anyone in Japan had heard of the development goals three years ago, messages like these are ubiquitous today. A poll by Dentsu found that nearly 90% of Japanese were now aware of the goals. Only around a third, however, could describe them.

Children are roughly twice as likely as their elders to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts, the poll found. The education ministry has encouraged schools to incorporate the goals into their lesson plans, and many parents have dutifully added the subject to their extracurricular activity list.

On a recent rainy afternoon, a group of children gathered in the atrium of an upscale Tokyo high-rise for a series of talks and games meant to familiarize them with the goals and how their country is working toward achieving them.

It was a vacation day, but the 20 elementary schoolers — parents looking on — gamely answered trivia questions about the lives of children in less privileged countries before playing an SDGs-themed board game, somewhat reminiscent of the Game of Life. Investments in programs like wind farms moved players up one of 17 rainbow-colored tracks. Events like a recession or a pandemic set players back.

A Tokyo subway train. Nearly 90% of Japanese were now aware of the U.N. goals, but only around a third could describe them. | NORIKO HAYASHI / THE NEW YORK TIMES

One mother, Mayuko Yamane, who had brought her two sons from nearby Chiba prefecture, said the older one, 11-year-old Kotaro, was learning about the goals in social studies class.

“He knows more than me,” she said, adding that her children had begun peppering her with concerns about sustainability and gender equality.

“I was a little surprised that they’re learning about this stuff,” said Yamane, 41. “Thirty years ago, we weren’t doing anything like that.”

It’s not clear how much of that enthusiasm has translated into direct action.

In 2015, Japan ranked No. 13 on the development goals in an annual report compiled by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a nonprofit under the United Nations. Like many wealthy countries, it scored highly in categories such as education and hunger alleviation.

Since then, Japan has dropped to 19th place, passed by countries like Poland and Latvia, which have made steady progress while Japan has stagnated. (Finland is in first place, and the United States is 41st.)

A 2021 report by the Japanese government to the United Nations said the country had succeeded in raising awareness of the goals but was still “lagging behind” in the development of “objective” and “science-based” targets for its programs.

While the United Nations has recognized Japan’s progress in areas like education and infrastructure, other problems seem intractable. One glaring area is gender equality. After years of lip service about improving women’s position in the workplace and politics, Japan placed 116th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2022 gender gap report.

There have also been concerns that companies and government agencies are publicly supporting the goals as a way to burnish their image rather than make real change — a phenomenon that has been labeled “SDGs washing.”

Noriko Hama, a professor at Doshisha University’s graduate school of business, said she was glad that the boom around the development goals had brought much-needed attention to issues such as climate change and sustainable production methods.

But when Japanese businessmen began sporting the now ubiquitous badges, she became suspicious, she said.

“Something seemed very odd about the picture of these people, who would normally hate that kind of flashy accessory, showing it off,” she said.

Children play a board game intended to familiarize them with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals campaign in Tokyo on Aug. 17. | NORIKO HAYASHI / THE NEW YORK TIMES

In the rush to jump on board and score some PR points, companies and government agencies have retroactively labeled projects as development-goals-friendly or put the imprimatur on initiatives with only a tenuous connection to the goals.

Even religious groups have gotten in on the act. A Buddhist temple in Kyoto announced that a program intended to cut back on maintenance costs and free up space in its graveyard was part of a push toward the development goals.

Teikoku Databank’s survey found that the largest share of companies — 32% — were making the SDGs objective of “decent work and economic growth” a priority. Support for goals such as “no poverty,” “zero hunger,” “clean water and sanitation,” and protection of the diversity of “life below water” and “life on land” was under 7%.

Keidanren’s members are aware of the skepticism, said Emiko Nagasawa, who heads its program on the development goals, adding that the group needs to work harder to “evaluate progress and make the results public.”

Speaking after the children’s event in Tokyo, Masaru Ihara, a manager at the travel company Club Tourism International, said he had seen many companies put on a development-goals badge more out of a feeling of obligation than out of an alignment with the goals.

“People aren’t wearing it because they understand the SDGs. They’re doing it as a symbolic gesture,” he said.

In much the same way, many of the small restaurants and hotels that Ihara works with feel social pressure to align their business practices with the goals, even if they’re not yet sure why or how.

But as more and more people learn about the development goals, he believes, the pin will move from a fad to a symbol of real change.

“It’s creating an atmosphere where people feel they have to do something,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2022 The New York Times Company

Source: Why is this colorful little wheel suddenly everywhere in Japan? | The Japan Times

Wed, 31 Aug 2022 01:49:02 -0500 lj.sdg
Tourism plays important role in achieving SDGs A United Nations global assessment of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) makes clear the important role that tourism must play in achieving the ambitious agenda for change.

Launched at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which this year is held around the theme of ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, the UN reports draw on UNWTO’s statistical work to track tourism’s role in delivering meaningful progress for people and the planet.

Specifically, the UN SG Progress report on SDGs with its statistical annex will serve as an input to the deliberations of the HLFP. Alongside this, the Sustainable Development Goals Extended Report is aimed at the wider public and provides an overview of all 17 Goals with infographics, including those illustrating the relevance of tourism.

Prepared in collaboration with the entire UN Statistical System, the reports and their latest available data show that action is needed to accelerate the delivery on the SDGs and to step up national measurement efforts, including for the tourism sector.

As demonstrated in section on SDG8 (‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’), tourism a major force of development was one of the most affected economic sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic as global GDP from tourism nearly halved between 2019 and 2020, with wide-reaching consequences for jobs, local businesses and conservation efforts.

On SDG12 (‘Responsible Production and Consumption’), UNWTO’s statistics serve to highlight the importance of national efforts to implement standardized tools like Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSAs) and the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). Both underpin the UNWTO-led Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) that assesses the social, economic and environmental impacts and dependencies of tourism—at national and sub-national levels -. These tools also underline the importance of multistakeholder collaboration which is fostered through the Sustainable Tourism Program of the One Planet network.

As countries build back better and aim to build more sustainable and resilient tourism, various policy frameworks have recognized the need for these measurement tools to guide their efforts and thus contribute to more evidence-based policymaking. Examples at the international and regional level are the UNWTO Recommendations for the Transition to a Green Travel and Tourism Economy  and the AlUla Framework for Inclusive Community Development Through Tourism, both welcomed and endorsed by the G20, the European Parliament resolution on establishing a strategy for sustainable tourism, the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework, UNWTO General Assembly resolutions and UN Statistical Commission decisions. -UNWTO

Source: Tourism plays important role in achieving SDGs

Sat, 27 Aug 2022 23:14:41 -0500 lj.sdg
BRS Conventions Highlight Implementation Success Stories Wed, 24 Aug 2022 18:57:22 -0500 lj.sdg Circular Economy Solutions Help Achieve SDGs in Fast&developing Countries A group of researchers and practitioners published an article outlining new strategies, innovative technologies, management methods, and practical cases that can support the development of a circular economy, enable the sustainable use of natural resources, and help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

The article summarizes discussions from an event on international partnerships for waste management services towards the SDGs, held during the 16th International Conference on Waste Management and Technology. The session focused on innovative circular economy solutions, and highlighted 3R (reduce, reuse, and recycle) policies and practices in fast-developing countries.

The authors draw a comparison between the “take-make-consume-dispose” approach of the traditional linear economy model and the “made-to-be-made-again” philosophy of the circular economy model. They highlight that by creating “closed-loop systems,” the circular economy presents “tremendous opportunities” to drastically reduce the need for virgin resources, re-think the handling of both resources and waste, and re-design products to become cost-efficient, create jobs, and foster innovation.

Among circular economy solutions to tackle waste, the article notes:

  • Innovative methods of waste management that help reduce the environmental impacts of products and services, including “sharing economy” mechanisms such as bicycle sharing, the Eco-LooBox bio-toilet system that reuses and recycles cargo containers, and the ‘Sustainable Infrastructure for the Belt and Road Initiative’ project to accelerate the SDGs in regions with poor water and electricity access;
  • Circular economy solutions to marine plastic waste in China, such as the mulch film collection mechanism in Inner Mongolia, reuse of plastic packaging for online express delivery in Haikou, and a fishing-for-litter scheme in Hainan Province;
  • Circular economy solutions to food loss, which, despite financial benefits, are limited due to a lack of economic assessments of food waste prevention and reduction policies;
  • Integration of “final sinks” into a sustainable circular economy; and
  • The contribution of nature-based solutions towards the circular economy.

Case studies featured in the article cover: bio-degradable waste management systems in the Philippines; municipal solid waste management activities in Bangladesh; sustainable waste management in Guyana, based on a strategy aimed at achieving SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities), among other goals; circular economy strategies in Thailand; and urban mining of anthropogenic minerals in China.

The authors conclude that transition to a circular economy can keep the value of resources and products at a high level and minimize waste production. It can also help achieve a zero-waste society by optimizing resource efficiency, minimizing environmental pollution, and reducing emissions.

At the same time, the authors highlight waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as an issue of special concern. They call for “the green chemistry principle” to help design chemical products to be less hazardous and for a clean material cycle to eliminate unacceptable risks for environmental health. They underscore that by focusing on the 3Rs, government policies and plans, supported by public-private partnerships (PPPs), can help improve the use of natural resources and achieve the SDGs.

The article appeared in the Circular Economy in June 2022. The 16th International Conference on Waste Management convened from 25-28 June 2021 in Beijing, China. The 17th International Conference on Waste Management convened from 11-14 June 2022, also in Beijing. [Publication: Accelerating Circular Economy Solutions to Achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals]

Source: Circular Economy Solutions Help Achieve SDGs in Fast-developing Countries

Wed, 24 Aug 2022 18:42:31 -0500 lj.sdg
Numerous promising opportunities in Africa’s climate action: Egypt’s Climate Champion & Daily News Egypt

Mahmoud Mohieldin — Egypt’s UN High-Level Champion for Climate Change — said that there are many promising opportunities in the field of climate action in Africa, hailing the progress made by a number of African countries in the field of green hydrogen in particular.

He also stressed the need to align sustainable development goals with climate action — a matter that would contribute to solving current problems related to food security and energy shortage, as well as facing future challenges.

Mohieldin’s remarks came in a panel discussion held by The African Risk Capacity Group (ARC) — a specialised agency of the African Union (AU). The session was held under the title ‘The road to COP27 and beyond.’

The climate champion’s speech focused on four key elements — adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage, and climate finance. 

Furthermore, he referred to a leading initiative to mobilise investment in areas related to climate action that was launched by the Egyptian presidency of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP27) in cooperation with UN regional commissions and other high-level champions.

The initiative includes holding five major regional roundtables to showcase high priority projects for the five regions besides mobilising the investments required for their implementation.

In this regard, Mohieldin highlighted the most important outcomes of the first regional forum that was held in Addis Ababa earlier this month, as 140 promising projects were reviewed, 19 of which were shortlisted and will be implemented in the upcoming period.

He noted that Africa is the most affected by the consequences of climate change even though its contribution to global emissions does not exceed 3%. He also referred to the high vulnerability of coastal areas, in addition to the issues faced by the energy and agriculture sectors as a result of climate change, adding that further measures must be taken to ensure that all industries and are climate resilient.

Source: Numerous promising opportunities in Africa’s climate action: Egypt’s Climate Champion

Sun, 21 Aug 2022 10:01:46 -0500 lj.sdg
Globe bags UN SDG Award for ‘People’ in 1st SDG Awards in the Philippines & BusinessWorld Online Globe, the country’s digital solutions provider, leveraged its strength in technology to keep its 8,000 employees safe, connected, and engaged during the pandemic. With this, Globe took home the first-ever United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) Awards under the People Category hosted by the UN Global Compact Network Philippines (UNGCP).

The Awards, which recognize companies that have showcased best practices in implementing the UN SDGs in their operations, recognized Globe for its outstanding contributions to people’s overall wellness.

The recognition affirms Globe’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly UN SDG No. 3, which promotes healthy lives and well-being for all, and SDG No. 9 on fostering innovation.

“It is with deep gratitude and thanks that we receive this award. The pandemic has taught us to maximize the power of technology to bridge connections and keep our employees together. This award inspires us to stay true to our commitment,” said Nico Bambao, Globe’s People Experience Director, during the virtual awards ceremonies held recently.

Globe immediately saw the need to support and enhance the physical and mental well-being of its workforce, especially during the lockdowns when people were forced to juggle responsibilities at home and at work.

With technology within its reach, Globe used the opportunity to develop internal digital solutions for employee communication and connection such as:

  • DUDE Bot – Digital Usher for Disaster and Emergencies, a Workplace chatbot designed to perform automated daily health checks and direct employees to relevant sources of information, links to healthcare partners, and direct contacts to the company’s COVID-19 Response Team for immediate support.
  • HopeChat – a 24/7 counseling platform co-developed with Australia-based Virtual Psychologist (VP) in July 2020 to help employees cope with the psychological impact of COVID-19.
  • GCheck – a self-assessment tool that determines if an employee is allowed to enter Globe premises for the day. Fit-to-work unlocks GAccess space features, while the latter triggers the HR COVID-19 team for support.
  • Wanda – a recognition chatbot that enables employees to send special e-Cards to one another to nurture Globe’s culture of recognition even while working apart.

By implementing these technologies, Globe was able to manage employees’ health remotely and when they needed to visit the office.

“Our employees and workforce are major factors in delivering uninterrupted services to Filipinos, especially during the pandemic so we had to keep them safe and healthy. We value our connections at work the way we value our customers,” said Bambao.

To learn more about Globe’s sustainability initiatives, visit

Source: Globe bags UN SDG Award for ‘People’ in 1st SDG Awards in the Philippines

Fri, 19 Aug 2022 20:53:55 -0500 lj.sdg
AI Ethics Wants AI To Spur The UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) Though AI Might Go The Other Way You can assuredly claim that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is spurring the attainment of the United Nations (UN) Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs).

Score a big plus one for this gallant use of AI.

Meanwhile, please prepare yourself for the ugly side of this.

Are you ready?

AI is also likely to undercut the revered SDGs and we need to keep a watchful eye to make sure that the deployment of AI as a positive catalyst is able to far exceed the contrary use of AI for undermining global sustainability.

Consider for a contemplative moment the AI-adverse underbelly. AI can readily slow down the pace toward the SDGs. AI can confound SDG efforts. AI can falsely soak up sustainability improvement resources with little or no viable return. Worse still, perhaps, AI can be used to block or reverse sustainability progress and take the world backward rather than forward on its bumpy path toward SDG realization.

It's the classic dual-edged sword conundrum.

AI is inarguably a dual-edged sword.

Sometimes you live and thrive by the sword, but sometimes you can get cut down by the sword. For my coverage of the dual-use of AI, see the link here. In the specific use case of the UN SDGs, AI as a sword or tool needs stridently to be adequately managed and guided. The sunny side up is using AI to make sure that these vital global aims reach fruition. The other side is to prevent or mitigate AI that does the exact opposite and drags SDGs into a spiraling abyss.

All of this vividly illuminates the fact that AI Ethics is a cornerstone of all facets of AI. AI Ethics gets us thinking about what AI is used for and how it is deployed. There is a lot of AI that fails to meet any semblance of Ethical AI precepts. An ongoing battle is being waged to ensure that we have AI For Good and try to stop or at least assuage the equally rising AI For Bad. For my ongoing and extensive coverage of AI Ethics and Ethical AI, see the link here and the link here, just to name a few.

Let’s unpack what the UN SDG is all about.

We can then examine how AI is spurring the SDG's effort. That is not the end of the story. Many pundits would stop at the point that the SDG tale of AI seems to be all roses and sunflowers. Realistically, we need to shine a light on the downsides of AI too. If we don’t do so, the equation can get out of whack that the AI For Bad exceeds the AI For Good when trying to ensure that the SDGs are fulfilled.

No time allows for having an AI head-in-the-sand posture by any of us.

Fundamentals Of The UN SDGs

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a plan known as The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development.

This was intended to be a shared blueprint to encompass peace and prosperity for people throughout the globe and to foster better use of the planet. Worldwide participation was envisioned as the only substantive means to help end poverty, end world hunger, and end or demonstrably reduce other global suffering and deprivations. All told, the plan was the culmination of decades of deliberations and analyses about what the many countries across the world and the United Nations could do in concert to behoove humankind.

Annual progress reports are produced each year and are available online at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs website that encompasses Sustainable Development.

All right, the keystone report was produced, countries are working on the direction and guidance provided, and there are yearly progress reports.

Time is ticking.

A line in the sand was identified as being fifteen years hence the original date of the pronouncement, thus the year 2030 is the point at which we will have preferably made all manner of tremendous progress on enacting the blueprint. Into this mix comes the further emerging grand convergence of advances in AI, along with the ubiquity of computing, and as I will cover momentarily, an infusion of AI systems into the SDG pursuits.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself on this. Let’s make sure that the SDGs are sufficiently placed on the table before we get to the AI infusion aspects.

The most commonly known or popularized aspects of The 2030 Agenda consist of seventeen distinct Sustainable Development Goals. Each SDG can be viewed somewhat on a standalone basis. We are to do what we can for each one of the seventeen. At the same time, it would be wisest to construe the seventeen SDGs as inextricably intertwined. The odds are that we can only make solid progress on any given one of the SDGs if we are also making progress on some or all of the others too.

There is the other side of that coin that comes to bear too. If we continue to do poorly on one of the SDGs or get worse on the matter, this is bound to drag down one or more of the other SDGs. The old saying that a rising tide raises all boats comes to mind in this circumstance. The SDGs will tend to rise or fall as a collection. That being said, we cannot give up on any particular SDG simply because we might realize that another SDG is not doing well. Individual SDG improvement is still possible and earnestly sought.

A shorthand title of each SDG is a handy way of quickly grasping what the SDGs consist of (this is from the official UN SDG document):

1. No Poverty

2. Zero Hunger

3. Good Health and Well-Being

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

10. Reduced Inequalities

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15. Life On Land

16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships for the Goals

Just in case those shorthand versions don’t seem to convey to you the overarching nature of each SDG, I provide here a slightly more elaborated formal indication from the UN SDG report:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • 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 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • 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
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

The SDGs are extensively detailed in the UN SDG reports and supporting documents.

Allow me to provide a few other insights as some additional considerations.

The numbering scheme does not denote priority or sequencing. Think of the numbering as merely a convenient form of reference when discussing the SDGs. Specialists for example that are concentrating on dealing with worldwide poverty are apt to at times refer to this SDG as simply Goal #1, but that doesn’t mean that it is the first or topmost goal per se. Those that are stridently working toward say peace and justice as part of Goal #16 are still to be seen as (shall we say) a topmost goal too. The reference number is nothing more than a reference number and does not imply or connote a lower or higher priority.

Another quick point is that you should refrain from doing the old toss the baby out with the bathwater if you have some qualms or disagreement with any particular SDG. In essence, some people might not necessarily agree with all of the seventeen SDGs. In that manner, they tend to discard all of the SDGs. That is short-minded. There might also be grumbling about whether a given SDG is able to be equated on par with each of the other seventeen. Again, do not misguidedly disregard all of the SDGs simply due to a personal perspective about one or another of the set.

The macro view is that these are all worthy of attention.

Put your attention toward the SDGs that you think you can most help out. If perchance you don’t favor some of the SDGs, so be it. Keep your focus then on the ones that you can support.

AI As A Catalyst For And Yet Also Against The SDGs

We are now ready to shift gears and discuss how AI comes to play for the SDGs.

I have elsewhere expounded in great detail about AI for each of the respective SDGs, see the link here. For space constraint purposes herein, I will provide a quick summary for you.

Remember too that we are going to first cover the positive use of AI, namely the AI For Good that contributes toward attaining the given SDG. I’d say this is the smiley face portrayal. We will afterward cover the frown face portrayal.

AI For Good that aids and emboldens each SDG:

Thu, 18 Aug 2022 04:39:32 -0500 lj.sdg Science&policy Panel on Chemicals Can Draw on Lessons from BRS Conventions

Photo Credit: Atonie Giret on Unsplash

In 2022, the UN Environment Assembly adopted a resolution deciding to establish an independent intergovernmental panel that would provide policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive, advice to support international agencies and instruments, countries, and the private sector in their work to promote the sound management of chemicals and waste and address pollution.

As it develops a science-policy panel, the global community can draw on lessons and examples from the BRS Conventions, which are “structured to ensure that science plays a significant role in policymaking”.

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions has published a report detailing existing mechanisms for the science-policy interface under the BRS Conventions, outlining possible synergies between the existing mechanisms and a future science-policy panel for chemicals and waste, and suggesting issues for stakeholders to consider in developing a new science-policy panel to contribute to sound chemicals and waste management and pollution prevention.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has characterized the interconnected threats posed by pollution and waste, nature and biodiversity loss, and climate change as a “triple planetary crisis,” driven by unsustainable production and consumption. The 2022 UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) resolution on establishing a science-policy panel to support action on chemicals, waste, and pollution prevention (UNEP/EA.5/Res.8) reflects concerns regarding the impacts of hazardous chemicals and waste on human health and the environment. In the resolution, UNEA decides to establish an independent intergovernmental panel that would provide policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive, advice to support international agencies and instruments, countries, and the private sector in their work to promote the sound management of chemicals and waste and address pollution.

The 2022 report titled, ‘From Science to Action Under the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions,’ explains that the BRS Conventions are “structured to ensure … science plays a significant role in policymaking.” Over the years, it notes, they have strengthened their work to integrate new expertise into decision making, involve stakeholders, and build networks and partnerships for science-based action. It recommends that as it develops a science-policy panel, the global community draw on lessons and examples from the BRS Conventions, including from:

  • the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which develops technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of waste that are then approved by the Conference of the Parties (COP);
  • the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) under the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, which reviews proposals to list substances under the Convention and notifications of final regulatory action against criteria set out for chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations; and
  • the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee (POPRC) under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which undertakes a scientific review of chemicals nominated prior to the COP taking policy-oriented decisions.

The report also describes formal procedures to facilitate collaborative work with, for example, joint and back-to-back COPs, and back-to-back CRC and POPRC meetings, with overlap in participation by experts from governments, civil society, and business and industry. It highlights institutional and policy linkages among the BRS Conventions, which are tackling different aspects of many of the same issues. For example, chemicals under review or listed in the Stockholm Convention annexes are often on the Rotterdam Convention’s agenda, as countries take final regulatory action to ban or restrict their use.

On strengthening the science-policy interface at the international level, the report notes preliminary discussions on the panel that have emphasized that an independent body, not beholden to an issue-specific mandate, can offer a broader perspective on issues related to chemical pollution. Citing a 2020 UNEP report that assessed options for a science-policy interface, the report suggests that an effective chemicals and waste science-policy interface would: engage in horizon scanning; identify emerging issues of concern; monitor trends; identify, assess, and communicate about the environmental and human health issues associated with chemicals and waste; evaluate and refine response options; and stimulate new policy approaches. 

The report also stresses the importance of, inter alia:

  • producing new, research-based solutions to emerging and time-sensitive challenges related to chemicals and waste management and pollution;
  • interpreting and framing the issues for policymaking;
  • conveying this information to the wider chemicals and waste sector;
  • avoiding overlap with existing science-advisory and decision-making mechanisms; and
  • ensuring the panel fills gaps in the current structure of global chemicals governance.  

Among the elements in strengthening the science-policy interface, the report highlights:

  • representation, including drawing on the expertise of academic researchers, chemicals managers, producers of substances, those who use the substances, and those who are affected by the pollution;
  • transparency;
  • networks and partnerships, to facilitate communication about a given issue and strengthen ties between the chemicals regime and other sectors of environmental governance, including climate and biodiversity;
  • procedures for dealing with scientific uncertainty – a challenge in science-based policymaking that often creates a barrier to action on time-sensitive issues; and
  • proprietary knowledge, which is a significant obstacle to effectively managing risks posed by the production, use, and disposal of hazardous substances. 

In conclusion, the report highlights efforts under the BRS Conventions at the national level, to strengthen science-based decision making and implementation, including the joint “science to action” initiative launched in 2015, which is regularly updated to consider progress achieved and to establish new milestones. In January 2020, the BRS Secretariat hosted the first of what is expected to be a series of sub-regional workshops to enhance science-policy-industry interaction and to support countries in science-based decision making for the implementation of the Conventions. 


Thu, 11 Aug 2022 02:20:38 -0500 lj.sdg
U.N. Report: States Are Not on Track to Meet Sustainable Development Goals

U.N. Report: States Are Not on Track to Meet Sustainable Development Goals

On average, states are less than halfway to achieving their goals by 2030, according to a United Nations initiative.

A report from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network rates all states on their progress toward 17 goals, which have targets such as ending poverty in all its forms, taking “urgent action” to combat climate change and achieving food security.

Not one state is on track to achieve targets related to sustainable development by 2030, and the ones that are falling furthest behind are mostly located in the South, according to a report released Tuesday by a United Nations initiative.

The findings from the U.S. branch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a U.N. project launched in 2012, demonstrate that the nation is faltering when it comes to a "holistic picture of wellbeing," as described by Jeffrey Sachs, the president of the network and a professor at Columbia University.

"When Americans think the country is off track, they're right," adds Sachs, who is also the director of Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Development.

The report rates all states on their progress toward 17 sustainable development goals, which have lofty targets such as ending poverty in all its forms, taking "urgent action" to combat climate change and achieving food security. The goals were adopted by 193 countries, including the U.S., in 2015, according to a news release. Each state was assigned a score – which also translates as a percentage – tied to how far along it is to achieving its sustainable development goals by 2030

An environmental activist dressed in waste mostly from plastic in a rally called Fashion Revolution, to raise climate awareness, in Tel Aviv, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

On average, states are less than halfway to achieving their goals, and only 16 states have scores higher than 50, meaning they are more than 50% of the way toward achieving their targets, according to the network. Most of the states lagging furthest behind are in the South. Four states at the bottom of the list – MississippiWest VirginiaLouisiana and Arkansas – are less than a third of the way toward achieving the 17 goals. Only three states – DelawareMaine and Massachusetts – have at least one goal that is on target for achievement, the report finds.

"Definitely the U.S. is characterized by strong regional differences," Sachs says. "These show up politically, they show up in the structure of economies and they show up in the performance of sustainable development, meaning the combination of economic, social and environmental conditions in the states."

Vermont, with a score just over 60, is making the most progress among states. Many of the other states with the highest scores are located in either the Northeast or Pacific Northwest, with Massachusetts, WashingtonMinnesota and Maine rounding out the top five. Sachs calls out New England and the Northeast for leading the country in a number of areas, such as education and having "real intention" when it comes to green energy. The latter is an area where the South is struggling when it comes to sustainability, he adds.

"In the South, there's much more oil and coal dependence, and there has been a long-standing resistance to the energy transformation that we need, actually worldwide," Sachs says. "This is despite the fact that the South is really suffering very, very severely from the climate crisis."

But even the states that are performing relatively well are not fully on track. All states have at least one goal and 20% of their indicators moving in the wrong direction, according to the release. And to achieve the goals by 2030, states would need to improve their scores by about 5.5 points each year, which is more than the average improvement over the last five years combined, the report finds. The slow progress across the board "represents the very real hunger, violence, disenfranchisement and insecurity that people in the U.S. face every day," the authors wrote.

While the authors note that the COVID-19 pandemic has "increased challenges" for states to deliver on the goals, the results still provide a "sobering reminder" that not one state was on target even before the health crisis.

The findings "tell us something important about the nature of the divisions in our society right now," Sachs adds. "I think that they are an important wake-up call for the states that are lagging very far behind."

Thu, 11 Aug 2022 02:19:48 -0500 lj.sdg
To build sustainable cities, involve those who live in them Cities have an important role in making progress on sustainability and climate change issues. And for them to achieve this, urban residents need to be involved in achieving set goals. This means that cities need to provide opportunities and guidance to their residents to help them make progress.

While national targets — like Canada’s goal to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions to 110 megatonnes in 2030 from 191 megatonnes in 2019 — are important, they do not mean much to a city resident or an organization.

It can be difficult to determine how to address large and complex national issues. These need to be translated from theoretical commitments into measurable goals to create a sense of commitment and urgency. For example, Canadian emission targets need to be broken down into actionable objectives at the city level, which would make it more meaningful to its residents, who can then make small contributions that amount to significant outcomes for the city and beyond.

Localizing global goals

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are recognized as strategically important for sustainability. They cannot be achieved without commitment at every scale, from individuals to different levels of government.

Public and private organizations in cities can set the stage to engage everyone to contribute to shared goals. The SDGs may seem large and difficult to achieve, but they can be localized and broken down into achievable pieces.

This is being done by dozens of cities internationally who are reporting their progress in voluntary local reviews. The European Aalborg Charter is evidence of a can-do attitude among cities.

A crisis of leadership

Urban leadership needs to develop a shared vision that guides residents on their individual and collective contributions. The combined achievements at the urban level contribute to global improvements. Measurable indicators and targets are set — such as monitoring energy consumption — reflect a commitment to targets.

Taking collaborative action on larger goals can address concerns with leadership that have been recently reported in the media. The response of world leaders to the ongoing climate challenges and the global COVID-19 pandemic have produced a global crisis of trust. People need to see action and be part of the solutions that are being proposed.

To build trust, city leadership needs partners, collaborators and residents to work with them on setting goals, developing a measurement system and collecting data. There are a number of available platforms and technologies to assist with developing a measurement system and engaging residents in reporting.

Many of these are being used by cities: the PEG platorm in Winnipeg, Man., for example, is designed to address local issues while considering data security.

The role of cities

According to Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy, cities are “epicentres for jobs, growth, diversity, culture and innovation, and they provide frontline responses to address Canada’s most serious social and environmental challenges, including poverty, food insecurity, disaster relief, homelessness and crime.”

A similar perspective is echoed in the UN Agenda 2030. These documents are evidence of preliminary commitments to sustainability, and need to be translated into goals at the local level. London, Ont., has developed a process for localizing the SDGs.

Other platforms that provide opportunities for benchmarking and sharing information include award and recognition programs. For example, the Intelligent Community Forum Award shares the achievement of several cities in Canada and internationally. The European Smart Cities  benchmarking program provides a measurement system that features a number of important sustainability metrics and allow cities to learn from one another.

At the city level, work begins with agreeing on significant local goals that require partnerships. For example, Guelph, Ont. — in partnership with Wellington County — is working on a smart sustainable food system. Other communities internationally are working to eradicate poverty.

Farms in the Guelph—Wellington region are working on sustainable agriculture. (Shutterstock)

Issy-Les-Moulineaux, a commune in the greater Paris area, has a history of digital innovation, citizen engagement in green initiatives, and working collaboratively to improve livability.

Measurable goals

Thu, 11 Aug 2022 01:49:30 -0500 lj.sdg