Second Meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

high_level_political_forum_on_sustainable_developmentThe discussion assembles a panel of eminent scientists, policy makers, as well as senior UN officials, who will address how science is instrumental in ensuring the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The second meeting of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development commenced at the United Nations. A panel discussion that aimed to monitor the SDGs, build an effective review mechanism and strengthen science and policy networks was conducted as part of the negotiations.

Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic opened the discussion by stating that the SDGs were an aspirational and ambitious goal but with the right scientific and technical analysis they could be achievable. He highlighted the following four areas of interest that are crucial in writing the Sustainable Development Report for the Post-2015 agenda: Investments into institutions and niche markets, enhancing human capacity, learning and technology, deployment of system diffusions and conducting science based multi-stakeholder assessments.

H.E Csaba Körösi echoed similar points raised by Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Mr. Alexander Roehrl and stated that the scientific community has been involved with the SDGs since its inception. Scientists have been mastering the information and substance and are guiding the Open Working Group (OWG). However, he highlighted three focus areas for the scientific community that would accelerate the progress of the OWG. One, help setting indicators. Two, help testing the coherence of the system and three, report on system transformation as a whole. He concluded by stating that is was crucial to know, through tangible parameters, how much progress has already been made.

Ms.Tanya Abrahamse summed up the panel discussion by stressing upon the importance of accessibility of information and data. She posited that scientific evaluation should be presented in a manner that could be easily understood by local populations, which in turn would empower them to act upon that evidence.

Title: “Strengthening science-policy links for reviewing progress on sustainable development”
Organiser: International Council for Science (ICSU); UN DESA; UNEP
Speakers: Gordon McBean, President, International Council for Science; Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied System Analysis; Alexander Roehrl, Division for Sustainable Development, DESA; H.E.Csaba Körösi, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals; Elliot Harris, Director, UNEP New York Office; Tanya Abrahamse, CEO, South African National Biodiversity Institute
Date: 30 June 2014
Location: Conference Room 5 (NLB), UN Headquarters
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Reactions and Suggestions to the Sustainable Development Goals

An informal meeting convened by the Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held this morning. Representatives of major groups and other stakeholders gathered to discuss their viewpoints on the Zero Draft of the SDGs.

Mr. Harris called for more ambitious targets under Goal 7 in a bid to provide all people with access to renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and ensure that new energy production is renewable. He used biomass as an example to illustrate the need to define qualifiers such as “clean”, “sustainable” or “modern” energy within targets under Goal 7, since biomass is renewable yet its potential negative social and environmental impacts can impede sustainability itself. He further made suImageggestions on the reformulation of targets under Goal 7, with more attention to women, indigenous people, farmers and entrepreneurs.

Ms. Hansen reiterated the necessity of the stand-alone goal on climate change towards a climate-resilient future and to drive urgent international action. She asked for more concrete and ambitious targets under goal 13 by taking into account the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), and setting a target of a less than1.5°C increase in global average temperature. She also suggested one additional target related to financing, since financing is one of the most critical means of implementing the SDGs.

Ms. Wright spoke about goal 9, industrialization, and raised concern in which the language and focus of goal 9 would counteract the real essence of sustainable development. She, on behalf of her group, proposed merging the “production related” target of goal 12, with some of the targets in goal 9. Melany Grout emphasized the need to address the multidimensional face of poverty and the target under goal 1, poverty eradication, should focus on the measure of well-being rather than on income alone. Furthermore, social protection should be universalized.


Meeting Title: Reaction to Zero Draft: Joint Statements
Speakers: Grove Harris, speaking on behalf of Women’s, Children and Youth, Indigenous Peoples, NGO Major Groups, Mining Working Group, Beyond 2015; Mette Bloch Hansen. speaking on behalf of the Major Groups of NGOs, Children & Youth and Women, Beyond 2015, Climate Action Network International; Nozipho Wright, speaking on behalf of Women’s Major Group, NGO Major Group, the youth Major and other stakeholders; Melany Grout, speaking on behalf of Plan International, Psychology Coalition at the UN, Commons Cluster, ATD Fourth World, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, GNDR, Plan International, World Animal Protection, World Vision International, Major Group Children and Youth, Landesa.
Date: 19 June 2014
Location: United Nations, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

UN-Women Discusses Gender Equality

One of the key issues that has been discussed this week at the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is “promoting equality, including social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment”. Today, representatives of UN-Women gathered to discuss this issue. The central role of UN-Women is to promote system wide accountability on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

WomensEmpowermentHeaderDeputy Executive of UN-Women, Mr. Hendra started the meeting by introducing the Joint Gender Programmes (JGPs), which aim at promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. It is a development cooperation modality in the UN system to operationalize the important agendas at the country level. Next, Mr. Bories highlighted the six key objectives of JGPs. First, JGPs contribute to creating shared understandings of gender equality. It increases the visibility and legitimacy of gender issues on the national agenda. Next, it improves upstream results on policy reform and advocacy. It also expands the opportunity for translating normative gender work into operational initiatives. Furthermore, it enhances outreach on gender issues by strengthening synergies with other ministries. Lastly, it permits a more multi-dimensional approach to addressing gender inequality.

However, Ms. Ngcuka pointed out that evaluation on JGPs was conducted in 2012 and there are several areas that need to be improved upon in terms of design and implementation of the next generation of JGPs. These include the modality of JGPs, coherence and efficiency, design process in terms of analysis, and ownership and accountability should be maximized within the national context. Mr. Segone suggested several ways to strengthen the evaluation by carrying out United Nations Evaluation Group peer reviews, Joint Inspection Unit reviews, and United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services’ assessments in the coming years. With such, JGPs will greatly benefit by addressing systematic barriers within the UN system. This also has a high potential to improve the UN system’s contribution to gender equality and women’s empowerment through the JPGs.


Meeting Title: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Woman (UN-Women): 3rd meeting – Joint Evaluation of Joint Programmes on Gender Equality in the UN System
Speakers: ; Mr. John Hendra, Deputy Executive Director, Policy and Programme Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. Jean-Luc Bories, Secretary of UN-Women Executive Board; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women Mr. Marco Segone, Evaluation Officer of UN Women
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 2
Date: 18 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan


The 12th Session of the Open Working Group on the SDGs Begins

Following rounds of informal consultations last week, the twelfth session of the open working group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was convened by the member state delegations at the United Nations headquarters today. The agenda of this Open Working Group was to discuss the 17 goals and 212 targets as proposed in the zero draft of the SDGs that would succeed the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.


The relation between the efforts at the national and international levels was drawn upon to emphasize the importance of incorporating the national efforts into decision-making at the international level in order to produce a crisp final document. The global goals and targets in the post-2015 agenda, therefore, should not be solely a result of collective action at the international level; it should also reflect the progress made by individual member states in their national development towards the SDGs.

The Minister of Germany, H.E Dr. Maria Böhme, while acknowledging the solid basis the SDGs would provide for our society and its future generations, challenged the draft on its strategies and approaches. Though the global goals outlined contain a number of good targets, they lack transformative strategies for environmentally friendly goals. Also, the primary focus on economic and social goals leaves other equally vital aspects neglected, such as the much-required visionary and holistic approach.

Both the delegations of the EU and G77 laid stress on the importance of maintaining universality and a balance between the three dimensions of the SDGs: the environmental, social, and economic. They suggested that the international community must count on each other’s support in order to move forward.

The representative of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) called attention to the need to provide modern energy technology to LDCs on a preferential basis. LDCs will have to quadruple their efforts to enhance energy efficiency in order to keep up with the doubling of efforts at the global level. The international community should recognize the particular challenges faced by the LDCs and thus, the LDCs need enhanced global support and an appropriate mechanism for the achievement of the SDG goals and targets.

Meeting Title: Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (12th session)
Speakers: Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the United Nations; Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative Hungary to the United Nations
Date: 16 June 2014
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Early Childhood Development – Essential in the Post 2015 Development Agenda

Today at the United Nations, the twelfth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development commenced. It marks a weeklong platform for debate on the methods of work of the Rio+20 outcome document, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system.
A special event co-hosted primarily by Colombia, Ecuador and Italy aimed to strongly move forward in the approach to ensuring early child development as an important indicator to drive human development. H.E María Mejía stated that 6.6 million children die around the world each year due to preventable diseases and highlighted that “early age, thus, becomes the only time one can shape success for a society”. Ms. Cecilia Vaca further emphasized the political importance of early child development. Using the 2008 Ecuadorian constitution (that prioritizes the state, society and family) as the prime example, she urged member states to establish a developmental path within their judicial frameworks that recognizes the rights of the child to education and healthcare above all.

ImageH.E Sebastiano Cardi emphasized the significance of maternal healthcare. He posited that children’s health is closely linked to and dependent upon the healthcare instruments prevalent in countries for expecting mothers. Mr. James Wolfensohn strongly upheld the notion that unless governments of developing countries deal with young people, their health and education, there can be no future for the society.

All panelists were in tandem that child development and maternal healthcare are quintessential prerequisites to sustainable human development. The event concluded by giving a sense of possibility that this challenge, with the continued effort of member states, civil society and other stakeholders, can become every child’s reality.



The Foundation for Sustainable Human Development for 2015 and Beyond was a special event that coincided with the 12th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development (OWG). The event aimed to push forward the importance of child development in achieving sustainable human development.


Meeting Title: “Foundation for Sustainable Human Development for 2015 and Beyond”
Moderator: Ms. Pia Britto, Global Head of Early Childhood Development, UNICEF
Speakers: H.E María Emma Mejía, Permanent Representative of Colombia; H.E Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy; Ms. Cecilia Vaca, Minister of Social Development, Ecuador; Mr. James Wolfensohn, former World Bank President; Mr. Lu Mai, Secretary-General, China Development Research Foundation; Ms. Tessa Jowell, MP, Member of United Kingdom Parliament; Ms. Louise Zimanyi, Executive Director, Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development; and
Date: 16 June 2014
Conference Room 2United Nations Headquarters, New York
Written by WIT Representative:
Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan