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Global experts convene at TERI’s Act4Earth Dialogue to promote SDG-climate synergies ahead of HLPF 2024

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24 May 2024, New Delhi: A virtual dialogue under the initiative of Act4Earth was organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The context of this event links up to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) scheduled for July 2024. Chaired by Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, the session titled, ‘SDG-Climate synergies and implications for multilateralism’ delved into the mid-point review of sustainable development goals and the progress towards achieving climate targets, discussing the challenges and opportunities for enhancing international cooperation and multilateral efforts to align climate actions with sustainable development objectives. On the occasion of TERI’s 50th anniversary, the event also saw an open house on the activities of the Sustainable Development and Outreach Division.

Experts discuss challenges and opportunities for integrating climate action with Sustainable Development Goals

Ambassador Puri in his introductory remarks highlighted, “The world is off-track according to the first global stock-take. To achieve ambitious temperature goals, 43 percent of emissions need to be reduced by 2030 while implementation of current nationally determined contributions will lead to only 2 per cent reduction.” He further emphasized that the process is that of international governance, and the aim is to take action which is collectively and individually beneficial for humankind.

Setting the context for the panel discussion, Dr Shailly Kedia, Senior Fellow and Associate Director at TERI and Palak Khanna, Research Associate, TERI emphasized, “Over time, an insulation has set in between the multilateral process involving SDGs and climate change COPs. There is much to gain from examining synergies between SDGs and climate actions, there is also a need for enhanced institutional interactions between these two multilateral processes, especially at the political level.”

During the panel discussion, Prof. Joyeeta Gupta, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam, emphasizing on the need for a holistic approach to policy-making that integrates both social and environmental dimensions. She underscored that scientists speak from a very narrow perspective which is rooted in their knowledge base and very few talk about synergies that create a fundamental problem in the process of negotiations. Highlighting the demand for bankable projects only, she said, “Not all SDGs are bankable. If a multilateral system is going to be financially squeezed out, any discussion on synergy will be a lip service only.”

Highlighting climate action and SDGs have a lot in common and are important objectives of the global community, Dr Archna Negi, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said, “Meeting 70 percent of the SDG targets by 2030 will require adaptation measures. So, the adaptation part of climate action in particular has overlaps with the SDG objectives.” Quoting the UN Secretary General, she said, “Climate Action is the 21st century’s greatest opportunity to drive forward all the SDG Goals.”

Addressing the current state of affairs, Dr Kusum Lata, Team Lead, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said, “We need to find new ways of monitoring mechanisms, so that we can achieve what we wanted to.” She also highlighted the importance of data, reliability and transparency, capacity building that would help achieve the SDGs.

Emphasizing the synergies between climate action and SDGs, Ms Nobue Amanuma, Fellow, Integrated Sustainability Centre, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), said, “One of the common suggestions is to synergize the planning and reporting processes between the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.” She particularly highlighted the need to implement incentives to make the process successful. Further, she added that synergy is not required only between Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) but also between biodiversity and resource efficiency if the sustainable goals are to be achieved.

Dr Himangana Gupta, Research Fellow and Academic Associate, United Nations University highlighted, “There should be different forums for if we integrate climate change and SDG, then SDG will be non-existent.” Speaking on linkage of Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and climate change she said, “GGA is strongly linked to SDG, but only so if we try to look at it from a local perspective.”

During his address, Mr Christopher Garroway, Development Economist, UN India referred to COVID pandemic and the geopolitical tensions as opportunities for multilateral reforms. He emphasized the need for financing. “We see movement, but we also see problems. It was only during COVID that the G7 countries acknowledged that there is a challenge in the financing, therefore, the window of opportunity for multilateral forum opened up.” He further added, “We as a multilateral system are looking increasingly at emergency and humanitarian response instead of investing in these kinds of transformations. We would put band-aid on problems rather than address root cause issues.”

Ambassador Puri concluded the session with a call to action: “What can we do to achieve better lives for all of us? A sustainable, better life requires synergistic actions at a global level.”

Also Read: IARI Starts Sale of Imazethapyr Tolerant Basmati Rice Varieties

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