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Post-2015 development agenda: Opportunities for action on climate change

Submitted by on 28 Sep 2015 – 09:10

To safeguard development gains made under the MDGs, action on adaptation is needed and mitigation is essential if we want to remain at 1.5 degrees of warming. Magdy Martinez-Soliman, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, presents the main lines of actions

Magdy Official Final PictureThe work undertaken over the last fifteen years by the global community to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Kyoto Protocol and the Rio Conventions, the Hyogo Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and other international accords on climate has established the basic equation according to which integrating climate action in development planning can deliver resilient results for sustainable development. Hence the “Sustainable Development Goals” as the engine of the Post-2015 Agenda.

In September, during the 70th session of UN General Assembly, governments met to adopt these Goals, the SDGs replacing the MDGs. What varies is much more than one letter in the acronym. The SDGs include a standalone goal on climate change, as well as the integration of climate change in the other sectoral goals including on food security and poverty reduction. In December, governments will meet in Paris to finalize a new climate change agreement that will ensure all countries take action to counter climate change and can adapt to the impacts. It is essential that we maintain our ambition well below 2°C, and abandon a trajectory towards climate chaos.

Science shows the pressing need to integrate climate change in development. It is the poorest and the most vulnerable who suffer from dangerous climate change. The term climate refugee has become common currency in the humanitarian literature. Poor people and poor countries are hit the hardest – take the Small Island Developing States for instance. To safeguard development gains made under the MDGs, action on adaptation is needed to build resilient nations and communities, and mitigation is essential if we want to remain at 1.5 degrees of warming. Four lines of action are needed.

Capitalizing on existing successes
We need to combine innovative solutions to development challenges and building on successes of the recent past. UNDP’s last decade of work with governments has shown for example, that the development of national climate policies in countries such as Kenya and Fiji have helped mainstream climate change concerns into all sectors of development planning – the famous “whole of government approach” – enabling policies and incentives that facilitate climate resilient growth.

Ensuring coherence in implementing climate action in 2015 agreements
The post-2015 development package – the Goals, a Paris Agreement, Financing for Development (FfD) and the Sendai Framework for DRR – needs synergetic implementation. This includes for example how action on climate change through the SDGs to build resilience to the impacts of climate change can contribute to increasing ambition on adaptation under a COP 21 Paris agreement, or the synergies between an energy SDG and countries’ emission reduction commitments under Paris.

Building new partnerships
Climate change cannot be seen exclusively as an environmental concern. The post-2015 approach to climate change and development must include all actors in society, especially the private sector, Local Governments and Parliamentarians. In Uruguay, UNDP’s work with the government has helped build a policy framework that attracts private sector investments in the wind energy sector. As a result, the risks surrounding potential investment in low emission energy were substantially reduced. This also contributed to lower retail tariffs for consumers, and is enabling a long term low carbon energy pathway for the South American nation.

Guaranteeing Adequate and sustained financing
Tackling climate change is undeniably a cost-effective investment, one that allows governments and communities to pursue development that is long-term and resilient. While the evidence of success and the capacity exists, a lingering but significant concern remains on the financing and support that will be required for post-2015 implementation.

High level political agreements have to be complemented with adequate, stable and dedicated climate and development finance. Transitioning energy systems, building infrastructure for and between new and better planned cities, and supporting local farmers to adapt to climate change will all require funding, including leveraging private funds. Simply relying on overseas development assistance will not be sufficient. Increased bilateral and multilateral aid will be essential, as will commitments from the private sector and from developing countries themselves to dedicate domestic resources. Fortunately, poor countries already devote most of their budget to their own development, but more is needed.

Learning lessons and innovating, building strong partnerships, ensuring policy coherence and synergy, and mobilizing finance are the four pillars of the Post-2015 architecture. The ambition of this year’s agreements must be matched by a decade and a half of determination for action at the country level.