Leveraging innovative partnerships with higher education institutions towards sustainable and resilient societies

Partnerships are increasingly being valued when it comes to realizing SDGs across the globe. By leveraging partnerships networks, not only can it capture the benefits resulted from synergy effects, but it can also provide more opportunities for different parties to interact with each other. Thus, this meeting focused on case studies on partnerships, especially programs with higher education institutions.

Ms Carpentier first introduced the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) as a recent program jointly launched by various UN agencies to synergize with higher education institutions for advocating SDGs from an educational perspective with students as key players. The representative of Harvard University shared the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure that offers indicators and tools for sustainable infrastructure. An envision rating system, including measurement for leadership, resource allocation and quality of life, is incorporated to reflect the effectiveness of infrastructures as enablers to achieve SDGs.

Ms Thoresen presented an overview on projects of the organization, Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living. She highlighted the importance of addressing pedagogical learning process, government education policies as well as interdisciplinary research when it comes to connecting teaching and learning with SDGs. Mr Howard, representing the University of Oxford, illustrated a lifelong learning programme offered by the University, the Sustainable Urban Development Programme, as an example of partnerships with NGOs, professionals and the academia to empower more individuals on understanding SDGs.

The meeting was concluded by a discussion on the current extent of students’ engagement in formal education setting, such as schools, regarding SDGs implementation at local level. Ms Thoresen pointed out that a revamp of school curriculum is possibly needed to better equip students to face upcoming challenges as future generations. Professor Iglecias suggested that a bottom-up approach should be promoted to facilitate students to initiate ideas for realizing SDGs more effectively.

Meeting: HLPF 2018 – Leveraging innovative partnerships with higher education institutions towards sustainable and resilient societies

Date/Location: Conference Room 5, UNHQ NYC; 10:00-11:45; July 11th 2018

Speakers: Ms. Chantal line Carpentier (Chief of UNCTAD New York Office), Ms. Cristina Contreras, (Representative of Harvard University), Ms. Victoria W. Thoresen (Representative of Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living [PERL]), Mr. Jakob Grandin (Representative of University of Bergen, Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation), Mr. David Howard (Representative of University of Oxford), Professor Patrícia Iglecias (Head of Environmental Affairs, University of Sao Paulo)

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda

unnamedAs part of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), a side event was convened to discuss how small food producers and family farms can support the achievement of sustainable development through sustainable agriculture and food systems. H.E. Mr. Grigsby opened the dialogue by highlighting how crucial a world free from poverty, hunger, and malnutrition is in the ambitious post 2015 development agenda. But this goal cannot be achieved without a shift to more productive and resilient food systems that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. If we can economically empower small farmers through access to knowledge, social production, and viable markets, they can serve as these sustainable food systems.

H.E. Mr. Aguiar Patriota continued the discussion by focusing on the impact of large scale farming in Brazil. While these commercialized farms provide Brazil with the wherewithal to become a powerful actor in the international community, they have a less desirable social and environmental impact. These farms lead to a decrease in jobs, resulting in sizable migration flows internally that compound the pre-existing problems of big cities in Brazil.

Ms. Brennen-Haylock commented on how investing in these small food producers can empower them to become critical agents of change for a future of food and nutrition security for all. Investments directed towards family farmers enhance their capacity to invest in their own productivity, as well as helping them address new market demands and environmental pressures. To close, Ms. Brennen-Haylock stressed the concerns of women in agriculture. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This would raise the total agricultural output in development countries by 2.5-4%, and thus reduce the number of hungry people in the world by a staggering 12-17% – a number that would go a long way in decreasing world hunger.

Meeting Title: Small food producers and family farmers as agents for change for sustainable agriculture and food systems in the post-2015 agenda
Speakers: Dr. Jes Weigelt, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; Dr. Molly Anderson, College of the Atlantic’s Sustainable Food Systems Program; H.E. Mr. Sylvester M. Grigsby, Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia; Ms. Sharon Brennen-Haylock, FAO; H.E. Ambassador Irene Susan Natividad, Ambassador from Philippines; H.E. Mr. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Ambassador from Brazil; Mr. Jesse Laflamme, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs; Ms. Adrienne Gardez, UN Global Compact
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 6
Date: 1 July 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited By WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon 

Consumer Information and Sustainable Consumption and Production

As part of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, a side event was held to discuss the availability of consumer information, and its impact on sustainable consumption and production (proposed goal 12 of the sustainable development goals). Beginning the meeting, the Vice-President of ECOSOC gave a statement on the launch of the Consumer Information Programme, which provides accurate information about the sustainability of various goods and services and helps to guide consumers towards more sustainable choices. By 2030, the global population of middle class consumers will increase by 2-3 billion people, putting more stress on the environment and natural resources, and making it vital for the world to consume more efficiently with less of an impact.

ImageFollowing, H.E. Mr. Thoms stated how sustainable consumption and production encompass all dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, and environment), and that it’s important to inform consumers about sustainable consumption and production so they can direct their purchasing power towards more sustainable goods and services. Furthermore, Mr. Bastaman from Indonesia added that information about sustainable consumption and production is relatively new in developing countries, and that both the Indonesian government and business sectors are striving to provide more information to consumers.

Next, Dr. Jaeckel, Mr. Wardojo, and Mr. MacMullan gave presentations on the role of transparency and accountability for consumer information in achieving sustainable consumption and production. They highlighted that providing consumers with accurate and accountable information is a multi stakeholder task, which includes governments, NGOs, inter-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Consumers are mainly interested in a product’s cost, convenience, and if the product meets the consumer’s needs. However, ethical and moral questions of sustainability are becoming part of the equation. In order to raise sustainability on the consumer’s agenda, information about how the product is made must be provided in a clear and simple way, in order toencourage sustainable patterns of consumption.

 

Meeting Title: Consumer Information Programme Under the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Vladimi Drobnjak, Vice President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Permanent Representative of Crotia; H.E. Mr. Heiko Thoms, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany; Mr. Henry Bastaman, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Indonesia; Dr. Ulf D. Jaeckel, Head of Sustainable Consumer Production, Product-related Environmental Protection, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany; Mr. Noer Adi Wardojo, Ministry of Environment, Indonesia; Mr. Justin MacMullan, Head of Advocacy, Consumer International
Date: 1 July 2014
Location: ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations HQ, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

UN Agencies joining hands to bring about Sustainable Consumption and Production

part 1- SCP-circle-picIn recognizing the cross-cutting nature in implementing sustainable consumption and production (SCP), the 10YFP Framework for Sustainable Development convened a panel to inform the community of the progress of implementation in various sectors. Ms. Alvarez-Rivero and Mr. Arden-Clarke opened the discussion by stating that the three-pillared nature of sustainable development means that no one single UN agency can take on the enormous task of promoting SCP alone, and the inter-linkage of different aspects necessitates the need of sharing of best practices among UN agencies.

Mr. Hoballah began by giving an account of the 10YFP programmes, ranging from sustainable construction to public procurement. Ms. Brennen-Haylock detailed the Food and Agricultural Organization’s work in promoting food sustainability. She highlighted the universality of this aspect of SCP, such that the food sustainability achieved by developed countries improved the food security of developed and developing countries alike. Ms. Jensen spoke on the role of sustainable lifestyle and sustainable development education, which involves not only encouraging reduction of consumption but also the instilling of the idea of responsible citizenship. She said that in achieving this massive change in attitude, cultivation of critical thinking skills is required so that future students can fabricate their tailored responses to the consumption problems of their time. Mr. Chung added that in implementing SCP at regional level, sharing of best practices and policy proposals is necessary to allow economies of diverse backgrounds to tailor-make their own responses to sustainable development.

One major question from the floor is whether the link between sustainable production and consumption pattern and the idea of planetary boundary have been integrated in the framework’s work in promoting the SCP. The panelists stated that while the earlier concept is well integrated in their work, lack of political impetus means the latter is yet to be a dominant concept.

Meeting Title: One UN for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP): joint action to implement the 10YFP agenda
Speakers: Ms. Birgitte Bryld Alvarez-Rivero, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Co-Chair of the 10YFP Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG); Mr. Charles Arden-Clarke, Acting Head of the 10YFP Secretariat, United Nations Environment; Mr. Arab Hoballah, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Chief, SCP Branch; Ms. Sharon Brennen-Haylock, Director of FAO Liaison Office in New York Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bringing Sustainable Food Systems in the 10YFP; Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director of UNESCO New York Office, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Mr. Rae Kwon Chung, Director, Environment and Development Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 30 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

High Level Political Forum: Harmonising Existing Measurement Efforts

image001A meeting was convened to discuss plans to harmonise existing measurement efforts under the High Level Political Forum’s (HLPF’s) current review function. Chair of the panel, Mr. Ullah opened by highlighting the immense opportunity provided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to coordinate and subsequently align the goals and measurement methods at the private, national, and international levels. Currently, 80% of the post-2015 SDGs do not have measurement mechanisms in place.

Ms. Beishem started the dialogue by giving context to the HLPF’s current review function. At this moment, the HLPF resolution mandates that reporting be voluntary, state-led, and provide a platform for partnerships. But to finalize the remainder of review effort, and to attempt designing a framework for all countries to follow, a few things must fall into place. They need an efficient review in limited number of meeting days, secretariat services for preparation and follow up, ways to integrate existing reviews and report, and financial funds for less developed countries.

Mr. Greenfield added to the panel by challenging the audience to imagine a world where societal and business priorities were aligned, one where the purpose of markets would be to deliver our highest human priorities. He argued that the first step is to empower nations to start adopting measurements and goals beyond simple GDP levels, which seems to be the assessment used to evaluate a country’s world standing. Mr. Betrazzi closed the discussion by highlighting three avenues through which alignment of the national, international, and corporate sectors can be achieved. First, technical work is necessary to increase the linkage in methodologies. Next, a political element to put pressure on the corporate world. Finally, raising awareness through the SDGs about the importance of accurate and efficient measurements.

Meeting Title: Harmonising existing measurement efforts under the HLPF’s review function
Speakers: Marianne Beisheim, Global Issues, SWP; Pietro Bertrazzi, Manager Policy and Advocacy, GRI; Chair Farooq Ullah, Executived Director, Stakeholder Forum; Oliver Greenfield, Convenor, Green Economy Coalition
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room C
Date: 30 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon