Uniting for Climate Action: UN, World Bank and UNDRR Leaders Push for Climate Finance, Justice and Nature-Based Solutions for SIDS

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Climate Change Finance

Panelists at SDG Media Zone at SIDS4, Antigua and Barbuda. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

Panelists at SDG Media Zone at SIDS4, Antigua and Barbuda. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA, May 29 2024 (IPS) – As leaders of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) meet for the 4th International Conference on SIDS in Antigua this week, top United Nations and World Bank officials are calling for urgent action to help SIDS tackle their unique challenges and plan for the next decade.


Selwin Hart, UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General of the Climate Action Team, had a frank assessment for a United Nations SDG Media Zone event on the sidelines of the conference, known as SIDS4

“The international community has failed to deliver on its commitments to these small nations, but it’s not too late to make amends,” he said.

Hart says the world has the ‘tools, solutions, technologies, and finance’ to support SIDS, but change lies in the political will of  the countries with the greatest responsibility and capacity, particularly G20 nations, which account for almost 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“A mere USD 3 billion of the USD 100 billion goal has been mobilized annually for the small island developing state and you compare that to the USD 36 billion in profit that Exxon Mobil made last year. It represents a tenth of the climate finance that SIDS are attracting and mobilizing. We need to correct these injustices and that has to be at the root of the global response to the demands and needs of  small island developing states.”

Nature-Based Solutions for Nations on the Frontlines of Climate Change
“Both natural and man-made disasters hit SIDS first,” the World Bank’s Global Director of Environment, Natural Resources, and Blue Economy, Valerie Hickey, told the Media Zone. She said that for this reason, the international lending body describes SIDS as “where tomorrow happens today,” a nod to small islands’ role as ‘innovation incubators,’ who must adapt to climate change through the creative and sustainable use of natural capital, biodiversity, and nature-based solutions.

She says nature capital also shifts the narrative, focusing less on the vulnerabilities of SIDS and more on their ingenuity.

“We don’t talk enough about the fact that small islands are where natural capital is the engine of jobs and GDP,” she said. “It is fisheries. It is nature-based tourism. These are critically important for most of the small islands and ultimately deliver not just jobs and GDP but are going to be the only technology for adaptation that is available and affordable, and affordability matters for small islands.”

For small island states seeking to adapt to a changing climate, nature-based solutions and ecosystem based adaptation are essential, but it is also necessary to tackle perennial problems that hinder growth and access to finance. That includes a dearth of current, relevant data.

“The data is too fragmented. It’s sitting on people’s laptops. It’s sitting on people’s shelves. Nobody knows what’s out there and that’s true for the private sector and the public sector,” she said.

“In the Caribbean, where there is excess capital sitting in retail banks, USD 50 billion of that can be used to invest in nature-based solutions judiciously, to work on the kind of longer-term infrastructure that would be fit for purpose both for disaster recovery and long-term growth—it’s not happening for lack of data.”

As part of SIDS4, the world’s small island developing states appear to be tackling this decades-long data problem head-on. At the event’s opening session, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said a much-promoted Centre of Excellence will be established at this conference and that this Global Data Hub for Innovative Technologies and Investment for SIDS will use data for decision-making, ensuring that SIDS’ ten-year Antigua and Barbuda Agenda (ABAS) is led by ‘accuracy and timeliness.’

Reducing Disaster Risk and Early Warning Systems for All

A discussion on SIDS is not complete without acknowledging the disproportionate impact of disasters on the island nations. Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Kamal Kishore, says mortality rates and economic losses from disasters are significantly higher in SIDS than the global average.

“If you look at mortality from disasters, the number of deaths normalized by the population of the countries, the mortality rate in SIDS is twice that of the rest of the world. If you look at economic losses as a proportion of GDP, globally it is under one percent; in SIDS, in a single event, countries have lost 30 percent of their GDP. SIDS have lost up to two-thirds of their GDP in a single event.”

Kishore says the ambition to reduce disaster losses must match the scale of the problem. He says early warning systems are a must and have to be seen by all not as generosity but responsibility.

“It is not acceptable that anybody on planet Earth should not have access to advanced cyclone or hurricane warnings. We have the technical wherewithal to generate forecasts and warnings. We have technologies to disseminate it. We know what communities need to do and what local governments need to do in order to respond to those warnings. Why is it not happening?”

The Early Warning for All initiative was launched by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in 2022. Kishore says 30 countries have been identified in the initial stage and a third of those countries are SIDS. Gap analyses have already been conducted and a road map has been prepared for strengthening early warning systems. The organization needs money to make it happen.

“The world needs to show some generosity and pick up the bill. It’s not in billions. It’s in millions and it will pay for itself in a single event. You invest in early warning in a country and one major event happens in the next five years, you’ve recovered your investment. The evidence is there that it makes financial sense, but we need to mobilize resources to close that gap.”

The Road Ahead

Thirty years since the first International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the three leaders agree that there is hope, but that hope is hinged on action—an approach to development in SIDS that involves financial investment, comprehensive data collection and management and nature-based adaptation measures.

“It’s not too late,” says Selwin Hart. “What we need now is the political will to make things right for small island developing states.”

IPS UN Bureau Report

 

Small Island Nations Demand Urgent Global Action at SIDS4 Conference

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Conferences

The once-in-a-decade SIDS Conference opened in Antigua and Barbuda today, with a clear message: the world already knows the challenges that SIDS face—now it’s time for action.

King Charles III of Britain addresses the opening ceremony of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, May 27, 2024. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

King Charles III of Britain addresses the opening ceremony of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, May 27, 2024. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS

ANTIGUA, May 27 2024 (IPS) – “This year has been the hottest in history in practically every corner of the globe, foretelling severe impacts on our ecosystems and starkly underscoring the urgency of our predicament. We are gathered here not merely to reiterate our challenges, but to demand and enact solutions,” declared Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Brown at the opening of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States on May 27.


The world’s 39 small island developing states are meeting on the Caribbean island this week. It is a pivotal, once-a-decade meeting for small states that contribute little to global warming, but are disproportionately impacted by climate change. The Caribbean leader reminded the world that SIDS are being forced to survive crises that they did not create.

“The scales of equity and justice are unevenly balanced against us. The large-scale polluters whose CO2 emissions have fuelled these catastrophic climate changes bear a responsibility—an obligation of compensation to aid in our quest to build resilience,” he said.

“The Global North must honor its commitments, including the pivotal pledge of one hundred billion dollars in climate financing to assist with adaptation and mitigation as well as the effective capitalization and operationalization of the loss and damage fund. These are imperative investments in humanity, in justice, and in the equitable future of humanity.”

Urgent Support Needed from the International Community

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the gathering that the previous ten years have presented significant challenges to SIDS and hindered development. These include extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic. He says SIDS, islands that are “exceptionally beautiful, exceptionally resilient, but exceptionally vulnerable,” need urgent support from the international community, led by the nations that are both responsible for the challenges they face and have the capacity to deal with them.

“The idea that an entire island state could become collateral damage for profiteering by the fossil fuel industry, or competition between major economies, is simply obscene,” the Secretary General said, adding, “Small Island Developing States have every right and reason to insist that developed economies fulfill their pledge to double adaptation financing by 2025. And we must hold them to this commitment as a bare minimum. Many SIDS desperately need adaptation measures to protect agriculture, fisheries, water resources and infrastructure from extreme climate impacts you did virtually nothing to create.”

Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS)

The theme for SIDS4 is Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity and the small islands have been praised for collective action in the face of crippling crises. Their voices were crucial to the establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

Out of this conference will come the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS). President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, says that programme of action will guide SIDS on a path to resilience and prosperity for the next decade.

“ The next ten years will be critical in making sustained concrete progress on the SIDS agenda – and we must make full use of this opportunity to supercharge our efforts around sustainability,” he said.

The SIDS4 conference grounds in Antigua and Barbuda will be a flurry of activity over the next four days. Apart from plenaries, there are over 170 side events hosted by youth, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and universities, covering a range of issues from renewable energy to climate financing.

They have been reminded by Prime Minister Gaston Browne that this is a crucial juncture in the history of small island developing states, where “actions, or failure to act, will dictate the fate of SIDS and the legacy left for future generations.”

IPS UN Bureau Report

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Choose Hope: Standing at the Crossroads of the Future

Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Global, Headlines, Nuclear Energy – Nuclear Weapons, Sustainability, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Future Action Festival Organizing Committee

TOKYO, Japan, May 8 2024 (IPS) – We are at the tipping point in human history, facing major existential crises. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has heightened the risk of a nuclear weapon being used since the Cold War. Furthermore, the climate crisis is accelerating. In these crises, the most affected are those in vulnerable situations.


Future Action Festival Poster. Credit: Yukie Asagiri, INPS Japan

Amidst all these crises, the UN Summit of the Future will be held for the first time in September to strengthen global cooperation and revitalize the multilateral approach to tackle these challenges. It will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift the course of humanity to a peaceful world where no one is left behind.

Toward the Summit, together with some youth-led civil society organizations in Japan, we decided to organize the “Future Action Festival” to create momentum to strengthen solidarity toward a peaceful and sustainable future.

The Future Action Festival Organizing Committee comprising of representatives from six organizations, including GeNuine, Greenpeace Japan, Japan Youth Council, Kakuwaka Hiroshima, Youth for TPNW, and Soka Gakkai International (SGI) youth, was established in the summer of 2023.Among all the global challenges, we decided to focus on addressing two major existential threats today – nuclear weapons and the climate crisis.

While youth engagement in these issues is more crucial than ever, there is also a need to cultivate awareness among youth in being agents of change. The event is not a summit, but a “festival” that is led by, with and for the youth and highlights the aspect of joyfulness in youth coming together for a better future.

To achieve a unique event, the committee engaged with as many actors as possible towards the festival. Throughout the process, the festival was joined by multiple stakeholders, including NGOs, private sectors, artists, and UN representatives, in many ways.

Engagement with corporations played a significant role in making the festival possible and raising awareness in the private sector. For example, Japan Climate Leaders Partnership (JCLP), which comprises of more than 240 corporations targeting zero-emission, agreed with the purpose of our event and supported us since the establishment of the organizing committee. In the end, the sponsorship and participation by more than 160 corporations not only supported the event financially but opened new possibilities in the sense of corporations’ involvement in abolishing nuclear weapons.

Future Action Festival convened at Tokyo’s National Stadium on March 24, drawing approximately 66,000 attedees. Credit: Yukie Asagiri, INPS Japan

The festival included entertainment elements performed by professional singers, comedians, YouTubers, and marching bands. The participation and active promotion of the event by those in the entertainment sector mobilized many people, including those who were not very much interested in the thematic issues, making the event uniquely engaging.

Finally, the engagement with the UN expanded the reach and possibilities of the festival. For example, one of the major advocates and partners of the event was the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Tokyo. Since the beginning of its preparation, UNIC supported us in gaining credibility with diverse stakeholders, especially corporations and artists. In addition, the first Assistant Secretary-General for Youth Affairs Felipe Paullier sent us a video message which called upon youth participants to work together for a world without nuclear weapons and a world that is sustainable for all. At the end of the event, the Rector of the United Nations University Professor Tshilidzi Marwala gave his remarks, emphasizing the significance of the role played by youth in tackling these global issues. The partnership with the UN became the core driving force for the event’s success.

The strong partnerships and youth engagement resulted in the success of the festival held at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo on March 24th. It gathered more than 60,000 participants at the venue and was viewed by over 500,000 people online through livestream.

Tshilisi Marwala, President of the UN University and UN Under-Secretary-General (Center) who endorsed the joint statement from the organizing committee, acknowledged the critical importance of young voices in shaping the Summit’s agenda and urged them to “be a beacon of hope and a driving force for change. Credit: Yukie Asagiri, INPS Japan

One of the key purposes of the event was to deliver youth voices to the UN. Toward the festival, the organizing committee conducted a youth awareness survey on nuclear weapons, the climate crisis, and the UN. About 120,000 responses from individuals ranging between their 10s to 40s were collected from November 2023 to February 2024. The results showed that young people have a high level of awareness on climate issues and that they think that nuclear weapons are not necessary. The youth want to contribute to addressing these issues. At the same time, more than half of the respondents find it difficult to have hope for the future. About eighty percent of all the respondents felt that youth voices are not reflected enough in national and government policies. Young people are dissatisfied with the status quo and seek a systemic change.

Based on the outcome, the organizing committee created a joint statement intended for the UN Summit of the Future to ensure youth voices are heard and reflected in the discussion process. The statement was handed over to Prof. Marwala at the event.

This is only the beginning of our journey to create a great momentum of youth standing up for a better future. As a next step to amplify youth voices, we plan to communicate with MOFA, a focal point of the Summit of the Future. We, the organizing committee, will also participate in the UN Civil Society Conference that will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in May, which is a key milestone for civil society to give their input to the Member States. We hope to convey the survey results to the co-chairs and UN high-level officials during the conference. In addition, at a national level, we will engage with the government, the UN, and like-minded organizations to contribute to the Pact for the Future in a meaningful way.

In addressing daunting global issues, we may feel a sense of hopelessness sometimes. However, through this festival, we learned that when diverse stakeholders of different background unite to create change, their solidarity serves as a beacon of hope for the youth. It is our responsibility to create a world where young people feel hopeful. Starting from youth in Japan, we will move forward, taking concrete steps to extend our local and global solidarity together with the UN and multiple stakeholders.

[embedded content]
Future Action Festival Filmed and edited by Katsuhiro Asagiri, Yukie Asagiri and Kevin Lin of INPS Japan Media.

Hiroko Ogushi is a Committee Member, Future Action Festival Organizing Committee Co-representative, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) youth

IPS UN Bureau

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Africa Pushing Limits To Boost Renewable Energy Supply Chain, Security

Africa, Climate Action, Climate Change, Conferences, COP28, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Energy, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations

Energy

Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid is the current African Union (AU) commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure. She believes that cross-border approaches are critical for clean energy affordability. Credit: Aimable Twahirwa/IPS

Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid is the current African Union (AU) commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure. She believes that cross-border approaches are critical for clean energy affordability. Credit: Aimable Twahirwa/IPS

ABU DHABI, Apr 17 2024 (IPS) – Investors, regulators, researchers, policymakers, and representatives of renewable energy companies, acknowledged the key challenges of shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy in Africa when they gathered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week.


The latest estimates by the African Development Bank show that Africa’s energy potential, especially renewable energy, is enormous, yet only a fraction of it is currently employed. Official projections indicate that the demand for energy could also be around 30 percent higher than it is today over the next decade on the continent. 

Francesco La Camera, the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) stated that the energy transition is accelerating rapidly, but it clearly remains off track, with an unacceptable uneven distribution of renewable growth that still disproportionately affects the Global South.

“African governments and other stakeholders should adopt innovative solutions to overcome pressing challenges and achieve the energy transition,” La Camera told IPS in an interview.

According to him, there is opportunity [for the continent] to prioritize and narrow down collective actions to overcome the structural and systemic barriers that are impeding progress.

In Africa, experts believe that there are multiple dimensions to energy poverty, which is associated especially with the lack of clear plans and a clear understanding of what the continent wants to achieve.

“Electricity remains the backbone of Africa’s new energy systems, powered increasingly by renewables but a large part of the continent is still left out of the energy transition,” said Bruce Douglas, the Chief Executive Officer at the Global Renewables Alliance, one of the global coalitions of leading industry players committed to accelerating the global transition to renewable energy.

Yet several new commitments were made at the latest UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) that took place in Dubai, UAE, last year, giving further momentum to the energy transition. Experts are now exploring priorities for the energy transition and immediate steps to ensure that current policies on the continent are improved to encourage greater deployment of renewables.

The latest estimates show that, with Africa accounting for around 39 percent of the world’s renewable energy potential, several renewable energy milestones can be achieved.

“Private and public investment is critical to tackling the multiple dimensions of today’s energy crisis on the continent but to ensure energy security, diversification of various sources is also essential,” Douglas told IPS.

Africa, for example, has abundant hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen, and bioenergy resources, but still, the continent’s current energy generation mix continues to rely on fossil fuels, while renewable sources account for nearly 18 percent of the electricity output, it said.

Whereas countries committed on the sidelines of last year’s UN Climate Change Conference to accelerate progress towards tripling renewable power capacity globally to at least 11 terawatts (TW) by 2030, some experts believe that this is still not a long-term solution as more than half of the population still lacks access to electricity.

Amani Abou-Zeid, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission (AUC) told IPS that a cross-border approach is critical for participating countries in the transition to clean energy affordability.

“Some countries in Africa have embarked on cross-border projects on clean energies but much more effort is needed to develop really sustainable transitions and adequate instruments,” she said.

The Africa Continental Power System Masterplan, a blueprint currently being developed by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), highlights some key strategies for countries across the continent to identify key components at national and regional levels that will enable the creation of a smart power systems master plan that promotes access to clean, affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity supplies across the continent by 2040.

Adja Gueye, Director of Promotion and Cooperation at the National Agency for Renewable Energies in Senegal points out that overall, African countries need appropriate plans at the policy level to overcome some key hurdles on the path to clean energies.

“To facilitate this transition, it would be appropriate for African countries to revise their regulatory framework and move towards harmonization, since the continent needs to improve regional and cross-border electricity interconnections,” she told IPS

Both Gueye and Abou-Zeid are convinced that without infrastructure and appropriate green energies policies and strategies at national and regional levels, it is challenging and impossible to buy and sell electricity across borders.

“Top-down governmental policies and long-term plans on clean energies in Africa are essential,” Abou-Zeid said of the current strategy to establish a long-term continent-wide planning process for power generation and transmission involving all five African power pools.

These include the Central African Power Pool (CAPP), East African Power Pool (EAPP), Northern African power Pool (COMELEC), Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and Western African Power Pool (WAPP).

Dr. Jimmy Gasore, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, who is also the current chair of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) points out that Africa’s climate goals necessitate collective recognition that the energy transition is not just about technological change but also about ensuring equity and justice.

“We need to ensure that the benefits of the energy transition are universally accessible, prioritizing the needs of the most marginalized communities,” he said.

To optimize and diversify green energies on the continent, some experts also stress the importance of encouraging effective cooperation between the private and public sectors in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

“To prepare for the current transition to renewable energy, partnerships are essential,” said Gueye of the National Agency for Renewable Energies in Senegal, one of the few dedicated national agencies dealing with clean energies in Africa.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 

The Climate Alarm Is Ringing – It’s Time to Stop Silencing It

Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Crime & Justice, Economy & Trade, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: Last Generation Germany

LONDON, Apr 12 2024 (IPS) – The heat records keep tumbling – 2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. Extreme weather events keep mounting up. And yet the voices most strongly calling for action to prevent climate catastrophe are increasingly being silenced.


It’s a sad fact that climate campaigners in the global south – in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America – have long faced repression. People have been subjected to incarceration and violence all the way up to murder for resisting climate-harming extractive projects and environmental destruction. In comparison, climate activists in global north countries – including Europe and North America – for a long time enjoyed relative freedom, which they used to protest against their governments and the corporations headquartered in their countries that bear most of the responsibility for causing global warming.

But they no longer enjoy the full freedom to do so. As the latest State of Civil Society Report from global civil society alliance CIVICUS shows, several global north governments are increasingly making it harder for people to take part in climate protests. They’re using anti-protest laws, raids, arrests, jail sentences and violence to try to subdue voices calling for urgent action.

When it comes to the climate, delay is denial, because if action isn’t taken fast, it may be too late. This means the repression of activists demanding immediate action must be seen as a form of climate denial.

Examples are piling up. In Germany last year, authorities used laws intended to combat organised crime to raid the homes of young activists from the Last Generation climate movement, seize their laptops and freeze their bank accounts. The German police also used violence against activists trying to block a coalmine expansion. The imposition of restrictions on climate activism is one the key reasons the CIVICUS Monitor recently downgraded Germany’s civic space rating.

In Italy too, the government has served climate campaigners with criminal conspiracy indictments historically used against the mafia, and it has also introduced a law to criminalise non-violent action at key sites. The Dutch authorities have responded with mass arrests to roadblock protests demanding it fulfil its promise to end fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to around US$39.9 billion a year. Thousands have been detained and the police have used water cannon against protesters.

The UK government has passed a package of laws that criminalise disruptive and noisy protests, clearly targeted at the non-violent direct action used by climate campaigners. In January, the UN Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders, Michel Forst, condemned these new laws. Numerous climate activists have been jailed for peaceful protest actions that until recently would never have received a prison sentence. Meanwhile the UK government plans to grant over 100 new oil and gas licences. Several Australian states have also passed anti-protest laws that have been used to jail climate activists.

Global north states, apparently eager to do the bidding of the fossil fuel giants, can be expected to intensify this repression as the gap between the action needed and the lack of effort being taken becomes increasingly clear. They silence civil society because activists expose the hypocrisy behind the greenwash. As right-wing populists and nationalists who oppose climate action – and often spread climate disinformation – gain influence across the global north, climate activists can expect an even greater wave of vilification.

The impacts of repression are personal. They increase the costs and dangers of activism in an attempt to deter people from getting involved and sap collective energies. However, in response, campaigners are showing resilience. In Germany, frozen funds were quickly replaced with crowdsourced donations. In the Netherlands, attempts to repress roadblocks motivated more people to turn up to protest.

But the opportunity cost is steep. Energy that should be invested in advancing creative climate solutions is instead being spent in fending off restrictions. In the long-term, there’s a danger of attrition, depleting the ranks of climate activists. And without civil society, who will push to keep the climate crisis high on the political agenda?

Civil society has shown it can make a difference. While there was much to be unhappy about with the last global climate summit, COP28, the fact that for the first time states acknowledged the need to transition away from fossil fuel use came as a direct result of civil society’s decades-long advocacy. More institutions are committing to divest from fossil fuel investments due to campaigning pressure: 72 per cent of UK universities have now done so, because student activists demanded it.

And the growing field of climate litigation keeps paying off. A group of Swiss women just won a ruling at the European Court of Human Rights, which found that their government has violated their human rights by not doing enough to tackle climate change, a verdict that sets a strong precedent. Last year, courts in Belgium and Germany insisted on stronger actions to cut emissions following lawsuits brought by campaigners. More are sure to follow.

Civil society will strive to keep working on every front possible, through protest, advocacy and litigation, because the scale of the climate crisis demands a full spectrum of responses. States should stop trying to hold back the tide and put themselves on the right side of history. They must respect the right of everyone to protest and stop the denial they practise through repression.

Andrew Firmin is CIVICUS Editor-in-Chief, co-director and writer for CIVICUS Lens and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report.

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New Report Examines Progress on Global Sustainable Development Goals

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Opinion

Credit: Students in Nepal’s Chitlang. Both Nomads/Forus

NEW YORK, Mar 21 2024 (IPS) – At the half-way point of the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “are in deep trouble.” The need to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals has never been more urgent as only approximately 12% of targets are currently on track. “Planet” is equally at risk as “people”.


As civil society leader Mavalow Christelle Kalhoule, Forus Chair and President of SPONG, the Burkina Faso NGO network, puts it, “What unfolds in the Sahel and in so many other forgotten communities ripples across the globe, impacting us all even if we choose to look away. Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals is vital to unlock a different future.”

The new “Progressing National SDGs Implementation” report looks at how countries around the world are advancing in their efforts towards sustainable development. The 2023 edition of the report is particularly significant as it marks the midpoint towards the 2030 Agenda’s goals, and the “world is not delivering”.

The report, which has been published since 2017, looks at crucial aspects such as governance, civil society involvement and space, localization, the importance of policy coherence, and the principle of Leaving No One Behind.

To compile the analysis, the report combines official Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) submitted by member states with spotlight and alternative assessments, which aim to offer a more complete picture of national progress, particularly with respect to the fundamental 2030 Agenda principle to leave no one behind.

The report highlights that while more countries are engaging in ‘whole of government’ planning to implement the SDGs, at the same time many of the same countries do not ensure a wider ‘whole of society’ approach that involves civil society partners in delivery of the 2030 Agenda.

The report calls for a renewed global commitment to the SDGs, with a focus on:

    • Increased ambition: Countries need to adopt more ambitious plans to achieve the SDGs and ensure policy coherence.
    • Leaving no one behind: Data collection and policy focus must ensure that everyone benefits from SDG progress pacitularly by considering the extra challenges faced in reaching historically marginalized groups.
    • Stronger partnerships: Governments, civil society, and the private sector need to work together more effectively.
    • Improved monitoring: More robust data, national statistical and monitoring systems are needed to track progress and identify areas lagging behind.

Oli Henman from Action for Sustainable Development said: “We need to ensure that SDG reviews are genuinely inclusive of all parts of society and that national plans are backed up with real steps towards financing implementation at the community level. This to the only way that the world can get back on track to deliver the transformative change that was promised in 2015.”

Wangu Mwangi, a seasoned environmental journalist and expert in sustainable development, has authored the Progressing National SDG Implementation Report 2023, drawing on her extensive experience in sustainable development, land governance, natural resources management, climate change adaptation, and African development.

This report was coordinated by A4SD, in collaboration with ANND, BOND, Cooperation Canada, CPDE, Forus, IISD, Save The Children UK, and Sightsavers.

IPS UN Bureau

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