High-level action event: climate change and the Sustainable Development Agenda

IUCN participated in the High-Level Action Event: Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda that took place in the UN Headquarters on March 23-24, 2017. 

Climate change and the Sustainable Development Agenda Photo: UN Photo/PGA

A summary by the Permanent Oberver Mission of IUCN to the United Nations

In collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), H.E. Peter Thomson, the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, convened a High-Level Event on Thursday, 23 March 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. Due to the high interest and large number of UN Member States that wished to participate, a second morning session was added to the schedule on the following day. The event aimed to provide an opportunity to highlight the synergies between climate change actions and the 2030 Agenda, and to gather UN Member States, international organizations, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to advance solutions to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

H.E. Peter Thomson provided opening remarks, noting how climate change impacts are felt all around the world, exacerbating drivers of conflict, displacement and humanitarian crises, and the urgent need for innovative solutions.  UN Secretary-General, H.E. António Guterres, stated that climate change is not a political issue but a scientific fact and stressed that climate action was the only viable way to safeguard peace, prosperity and a sustainable future. He also highlighted the Paris Agreement’s adoption by countries and the recognition that climate action goes “hand-in-glove” with the 2030 Agenda. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa stated that momentum is building among national governments as well as among other stakeholders towards low-emission and sustainable growth. She supported the UN Secretary-General’s call for addressing challenges in an integrated manner and said that policies designed to bend the emissions curve need to focus on human well-being, environmental stewardship and responsible economic growth.

Following the opening remarks, the event also included panel discussions on: Stocktaking on Climate – Paris Agreement ratification; Science, Gaps and Opportunities; Implementing Solutions – Scaling up implementation of the Paris Agreement and SDGs; and 2020 as Opportunity – Achieving the 2020 SDG targets and National Determined Contribution (NDC) ambitions. During the plenary session, Tajikistan, the Philippines, Armenia and Andorra announced that they had submitted their respective instruments of ratification or accession to the Paris Agreement that week.

In its intervention, IUCN welcomed the High-Level event’s emphasis on concrete solutions that yield cross-cutting dividends for both sustainable development and climate change, especially as it applies to IUCN’s focus on nature-based solutions. IUCN highlighted the Bonn Challenge initiative, a global effort led by IUCN and its partners to restore the world’s deforested and degraded land, as one of its nature-based solutions that have such cross-cutting benefits, for biodiversity, livelihoods and climate among others. The Bonn Challenge initiative is in line with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the SDGs and has the potential to generate net benefits of up to US$170 billion/year and sequester billions of tons of annual CO2 emissions. IUCN also welcomed the increased recognition of ecosystem-based mitigation and adaptation measures and of the role of natural systems in the Global Climate Action process and offered its continued support to the Moroccan and Fijian COP Presidencies. 

For more information, contact: evaline.cho@iucn.org

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