Tag Archives: SDGs

Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystems Underpin a Healthy Planet and Social Well-Being

By Cristiana Paşca Palmer

In no other realm is the importance of biodiversity for sustainable development more essential than in the ocean. Marine biodiversity, the variety of life in the ocean and seas, is a critical aspect of all three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental—supporting the healthy functioning of the planet and providing services that underpin the health, well­being and prosperity of humanity.

The ocean is one of the main repositories of the world’s biodiversity. It constitutes over 90 per cent of the habitable space on the planet and contains some 250,000 known species, with many more remaining to be discovered—at least two thirds of the world’s marine species are still unidentified.1

The ocean, and the life therein, are critical to the healthy functioning of the planet, supplying half of the oxygen we breathe2 and absorbing annually about 26 per cent of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.3

Evidence continues to emerge demonstrating the essential role of marine biodiversity in underpinning a healthy planet and social well-being. The fishery and aquaculture sectors are a source of income for hundreds of millions of people, especially in low-income families, and contribute directly and indirectly to their food security. Marine ecosystems provide innumerable services for coastal communities around the world. For example, mangrove ecosystems are an important source of food for more than 210 million people4 but they also deliver a range of other services, such as livelihoods, clean water, forest products, and protection against erosion and extreme weather events.

Not surprisingly, given the resources that the ocean provides, human settlements have developed near the coast: 38 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100 km of the coast, 44 per cent within 150 km, 50 per cent within 200 km, and 67 per cent within 400 km.5 Roughly 61 per cent of the world’s total gross domestic product comes from the ocean and the coastal areas within 100 km of the coastline.6 Coastal population densities are 2.6 times larger than in inland areas and benefit directly and indirectly from the goods and services of coastal and marine ecosystems, which contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and sustainable livelihoods and inclusive work, while hosting large biodiversity richness and mitigating the impacts of climate change.7

Thus, pressures that adversely impact marine biodiversity also undermine and compromise the healthy functioning of the planet and its ability to provide the services that we need to survive and thrive. Moreover, as demands on the ocean continue to rise, the continued provisioning of these services will be critical. The consequences of biodiversity loss are often most severe for the poor, who are extremely dependent on local ecosystem services for their livelihoods and are highly vulnerable to impacts on such services.

Concerns over the drastic declines in biodiversity are what initially motivated the development of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention encompasses three complementary objectives: the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. With 196 Parties, participation in the Convention is nearly universal, a sign that our global society is well aware of the need to work together to ensure the survival of life on Earth.

The Convention also serves as a new biodiversity focal point for the entire United Nations system and a basis for other international instruments and processes to integrate biodiversity considerations into their work; as such, it is a central element of the global framework for sustainable development. The Convention’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and its 20 Biodiversity Targets, adopted by the Parties to the Convention in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, in 2010, provide an effective framework for cooperation to achieve a future in which the global community can sustainably and equitably benefit from biodiversity without affecting the ability of future generations to do so.

The centrality of marine biodiversity to sustainable development was recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in which global leaders highlighted the urgency of taking action to improve the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. In particular, SDG 14 is aimed at conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and emphasizes the strong linkages between marine biodiversity and broader sustainable development objectives. In fact, many elements of Goal 14 and a number of other SDGs reflect the same objectives and principles agreed upon under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Thus, efforts at different scales to achieve the Aichi Targets will directly contribute to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the SDGs.

Marine biodiversity and ecosystems are intrinsically connected to a wide range of services that are essential to sustainable development. These relationships are often complex and dynamic, and are influenced by feedback loops and synergistic effects. These outline the need to take an integrated and holistic approach to conservation and the sustainable use of marine biodiversity, based on the ecosystem and precautionary approaches, principles of inclusiveness and equity, and the need to deliver multiple benefits for ecosystems and communities.

Work under the Convention has evolved to reflect such an approach and to support Parties and relevant organizations in implementing the Convention, notably through national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and through policies, programmes and measures across different sectors that both affect and rely on biodiversity.

This work takes a thematic approach focused on (a) understanding the ecological and biological value of the ocean; (b) addressing the impacts of pressures and threats on marine and coastal biodiversity; (c) facilitating the application of tools for applying the ecosystem approach for conservation and sustainable use; (d) building capacity to put in place the enabling conditions for implementation; and (e) mainstreaming biodiversity into sectors.

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global process for the description of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) has served to enhance understanding of the ecological and biological value of marine areas in nearly all of the world’s ocean regions. This work serves as an important foundation for conservation and management, and creates the enabling conditions to further enhance and utilize this knowledge by catalysing scientific networking and partnerships at the regional level. It also helps to identify gaps in knowledge and to prioritize monitoring and research activities in support of the application of the ecosystem approach.8

Parties have also prioritized the need to address key pressures on marine biodiversity, including unsustainable fishing practices, marine debris and anthropogenic underwater noise, as well as climate change and ocean acidification. The secretariat, Parties to the Convention, other Governments and relevant organizations work with scientists and experts to synthesize best available knowledge on the effects of major pressures/stressors, and produce consolidated guidance on means to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts of these pressures.

Through expert workshops, publications and engagement with other relevant processes, the Convention on Biological Diversity has generated guidelines for the development and application of the ecosystem approach, including through area­based measures, such as marine spatial planning and marine and coastal protected areas, as well as biodiversity-inclusive environmental impact and strategic environmental assessments, integrating different sectoral policy measures to address various pressures on the biological and ecological values of the ocean.

Capacity-building to support implementation is also a central focus of the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of the tools for this is the Sustainable Ocean Initiative, a global partnership framework coordinated by the Convention secretariat, together with various United Nations entities and international partner organizations. The Initiative builds on existing efforts, resources and experiences by enhancing partnerships, disseminating lessons learned and knowledge gained, and facilitating improved coordination among sectors and stakeholder groups. It does this across multiple scales in order to create the enabling conditions needed for improved on-the-ground implementation. The Sustainable Ocean Initiative Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fisheries Bodies on Accelerating Progress Towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets works to facilitate cross-sectoral regional-scale dialogue and coordination.9

Parties have also prioritized the mainstreaming of biodiversity considerations into economic sectors that both affect and rely on healthy marine ecosystems for sustainable economic growth. Mainstreaming was at the forefront of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the recent United Nations Biodiversity Conference, held in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2016. Ministers of environment, fisheries and tourism, among others, at the high-level segment of the Conference expressed their commitment, through the adoption of the Cancun Declaration, to work at all levels within Governments and across sectors to mainstream biodiversity in sectoral development. In this vein, the Convention secretariat has worked closely over the years with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, regional fishery bodies and other stakeholders to support enhanced implementation by the Parties to the Convention to better mainstream biodiversity into the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

If we are to achieve the SDGs and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, we will have to abandon business-as-usual approaches and mainstream biodiversity into our development planning, governance and decision-making. We will have to mobilize resources to make the on-the-ground changes that are so desperately needed. Furthermore, stakeholders at all levels will need to be conscious of how their actions and behaviours affect the marine ecosystems on which we all depend, and make conscious decisions to improve our relationships with the ocean, which has given us so much throughout human history.

The forthcoming Ocean Conference, to be held at the United Nations in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017, represents a momentous opportunity to build the necessary political will and put in place the enabling conditions to foment enhanced implementation at all levels with the inclusion of all stakeholders in order to realize a future of healthy and productive marine biodiversity that supports societal well-being. In line with the principles of intergenerational equity, we must also recognize the right of future generations to inherit a planet thriving with life, and to reap the economic, cultural and spiritual benefits of a healthy ocean.

Notes

1       For further information, see the Census of Marine life website:

http://coml.org.

2       The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment (World Ocean Assessment I) (United Nations, 2016). Available from http://www.un.org/depts/los/global_reporting/WOA_RegProcess.htm.

3       Corinne Le Quere and others, “Global carbon budget 2015”, Earth System Science Data, Vol. 7, No. 2 (December 2015), 349-396 (371).

4       Mark Spalding, Robert D. Brumbaugh and Emily Landis, Atlas of Ocean Wealth (Arlington, VA, The Nature Conservancy, 2016), p. 14.

5       Christopher Small and Joel E. Cohen, “Continental physiography, climate, and the global distribution of Human Population”, Current Anthropology Vol. 45, No. 2 (April 2004), 269-277 (272).

6       Paulo A.L.D. Nunes and Andrea Ghermandi, The economics of marine ecosystems: reconciling use and conservation of coastal and marine systems and the underlying natural capital, Environmental and Resource Economics, Vol. 56, No.4 (October 2013), 459-465 (460).

7       Ibid.

8       For further information on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, see https://www.cbd.int/ebsa/.

9       For further information on the Sustainable Ocean Initiative, see https://www.cbd.int/soi/.

Author bio:

Cristiana Paşca Palmer is Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Can We Save Coral Reefs?

By Carrie Manfrino

The United Nations has reported that 70 per cent of the Earth’s coral reefs are threatened: 20 per cent have already been destroyed with no hope for recovery, 24 per cent are under imminent risk of collapse, and an additional 26 per cent are at risk due to longer-term threats.1 Coastal ecosystem degradation is especially problematic, as 40 per cent (3.1 billion) of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometres of the ocean, which means that massive losses to coral reef ecosystems are also an economic and social issue.2 Reef structures protect coastal communities from storm waves, provide sand for beaches and generate enormous recreational revenue for local businesses. Coral reefs also serve as the twenty-first century’s medicine cabinet. Myriad organisms, including sponges, corals and sea hares, contain molecules that express potent anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-tumour and/or anti-bacterial effects. New treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, viruses and inflammation are being developed from these molecules. The collapse of coral reefs has far-reaching implications for the entire ocean, for people and, indeed, for the planet. Going forward, the focus must be on how to conserve what is left, ideally taking bold, decisive steps to reverse the unthinkable trajectory. Such solutions will require innovations and partnerships that can spearhead the societal-level change needed to halt the damage to coral reefs and reverse the downward trend in their health and survival.

Time is not on our side, but the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development outlines a plan for the future protection of the ocean. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bring a sharper focus on the economic, social and cultural ramifications of major declines in fish populations, coral reef ecosystems and coastal erosion due to sea level rise and poor management.3 For instance, SDG 14 describes the need to reduce marine pollution; regulate the harvesting of fish; and end overfishing, unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible. The goal is to sustainably manage and protect at least 10 per cent of marine and coastal ecosystems by 2020, and to strengthen their resilience and take action for their restoration.

With 70 per cent of coral reefs already gone or threatened, however, greater levels of protection will be required to potentially compensate for the increasing stress brought on by climate change. Corals turn white and ‘bleach’ as symbiotic algae are essentially expelled from the animal when stressed. Prolonged periods of higher-than-normal sea surface temperature have led to global coral mortality, events that climate models predict will only become more frequent.4 Some studies show that managed, no-take marine reserves with 50 per cent of the reefs under protection are not immune to warming seas but are capable of recovering.5 Unfortunately, the most current episode of bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef illuminates how climate change, driven fundamentally by anthropogenic carbon emissions, is destroying this critical marine ecosystem despite protection, even in locations far removed from human populations.6 The 2015 Paris Agreement, adopted at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), was heralded as a new dawn that could mitigate the consequences of climate change to humankind but not for coral reefs. For the reefs to survive, however, confronting climate change impacts must be front and centre for any other proffered solutions to make a difference. What other avenues are there to tackle this complex problem? Consider the following extra-governmental paradigm: public-private collaborations.

“RETHINKING THE FUTURE FOR CORAL REEFS” SYMPOSIUM

In June 2016, an influential cross section of coral reef scientists and social scientists, foundation leaders, non­governmental organization directors, policymakers and interested members of the general public gathered in London for the International Symposium on “Rethinking the Future for Coral Reefs”. The Symposium was led by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the founding patron of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI). CCMI is a non-governmental coral reef education and research organization, with a bustling facility on Little Cayman, Cayman Islands. Supported largely by private funds, the organization has navigated partnerships with local schools so that every Caymanian child can be ocean literate by the time they reach 12 years of age.

The goal of the Symposium was to establish a dialogue among experts from the public and private sectors with broad perspectives on what steps could lead to a healthy future for coral reefs. The focus was on the need for a more progressive, ambitious and innovative approach to both provide immediate protection and prevent further losses. The agreement, disagreement, surprises and outcomes from the Symposium can be summarized in the context of COP 21 and SDG 14. The major conclusion was that solutions for protecting the future for coral must rapidly transcend social, economic and cultural boundaries. The emissions goals set in Paris at COP 21 would lead to temperature increases by 2030 that would be devastating for coral reefs.7 Furthermore, the SDG 14 recommendations may need to consider more specifically the level of reef destruction already in progress due to climate change and direct human impacts.

Increasing the size of protected areas and removing detrimental impacts require dealing with human issues that lie beyond the borders of protected areas. Conservation relies on strong governance that is often overshadowed by private interests. Changing human behaviour and the conditions that influence behaviour, including poverty and the effects of globalization, would be a necessary first step in many areas.8 Teaching sustainable fishing, and providing opportunities for renewable energy and ecotourism are strategies that have successfully increased the rates of employment and improved sanitation while decreasing poverty, malnutrition and pollution. Longer-term solutions should enhance the status of women in developing countries who significantly support marine fisheries and aquaculture by providing access to jobs in those countries.

Top-down governance strategies could be more persuasive if attention was given to assuring positive community perception about the effectiveness of protection. Good governance could effectively reduce overfishing, stop anchor damage and remove direct human impacts so long as the human issues and community perception are included as elements of the plan.9

Coral restoration through farming or transplanting has often been mentioned as a possible solution for reefs in crisis, but it is not likely to be a serious remedy until the original stressors that led to the demise of corals is removed. Destructive harvesting and extraction, as seen recently in the South China Sea, must stop. Ending the practice of releasing waste and sewage into coastal waters, which result in algal blooms, would be needed. Halting unplanned coastal development, which reduces the productivity of corals due to increased sedimentation, would play a significant role in reversing the decline of reefs in some locations. The Symposium’s findings and recommendations are offered below, both on their merits and as an example of a productive public-private collaboration.

SUMMARY FROM THE “RETHINKING THE FUTURE FOR CORAL REEFS” SYMPOSIUM

  • The pace of coral reef decline is even faster than current trajectories by at least a decade.
  • Reefs of the future will be remarkably different in structure and composition than reefs today.
  • The 2030 Agenda’s SDG 14 target to conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas should be higher for coral reefs, considering that cumulatively 70 per cent of reefs are threatened.
  • Climate impacts on coral reefs, in particular the rapid increases in sea surface temperatures, would kill large areas of reefs that would not be capable of recovering fast enough before further high-temperature events took place.
  • The Paris Agreement goals adopted at COP 21 to reduce carbon emissions are inadequate. Reefs would disappear before these goals were achieved.
  • The collapse of coral reefs has far-reaching implications for the entire ocean and for people, as reefs are considered sentinel ecosystems that protect coastal communities.
  • Public engagement with coral reefs in crisis is woefully low, especially by comparison with many other environmental crises.
  • Societal-level changes are needed in order for coral reef ecosystems to continue functioning.
  • It was noted that activists and campaigners often targeted ministries of environment when proposing action aimed at protection, when it was often more effective to engage ministries of finance or of development, which have greater power and access to resources.

NEXT STEPS FROM THE SYMPOSIUM

  • Immediate global action to reduce future warming above COP 21 goals is fundamental to coral reef survival.
  • Establish a high-profile movement that makes way for a shift in societal behaviour to reduce adverse impacts on coral reefs and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
  • Establish an advocacy group and coalition with select entities to advocate and increase awareness, and undertake actions that will produce relevant solutions for a particular region. Focus on the diverse issues of particular regions.
  • Engage leaders of industry, Heads of State, and ministries of finance in the discussion so as to educate, inform and expand the dialogue.
  • Be proactive when relevant issues impacting coral reef health attract media or governmental attention.
  • Become engaged as scientists in the climate discussion and push for faster reductions in emissions.
  • Explore new, innovative, scalable solutions that traverse the scientific disciplines, including management and policy solutions, and expand the dialogue and awareness of the issues and solutions.

CONCLUSION

With estimates that coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, the dire need for societal-level changes to reduce human impacts on coral reef ecosystems is no longer a debate. The achievement of SDG 14 by 2030 could help improve ocean resources, to be sure. Actions that protect top predators, identify key herbivorous fish species for protection, halt destructive fishing, boating and diving, and manage exploitation of reef fish cannot hurt. Nevertheless, much more aggressive action and education from the top down to grassroots efforts to achieve a carbon-neutral planet are required to protect coral reefs; otherwise, we’re just whistling past Davy Jones’ locker.

Notes

1       United Nations Department of Public Information, “Life below water: why it matters”, 2016. Available from http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/14_Why-it-Matters_Goal-14_Life-Below-Water_3p.pdf.

2       Biliana Cicin-Sain, “Goal 14-Conserve and Sustainably Use Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development”, UN Chronicle, vol. Ll No.4 (2014). Available from https://unchronicle.un.org/article/goal-14-conserve-and-sustainably-use-oceans-seas-and-marine­resources-sustainable.

3       United Nations Department of Public Information, “Life below water:

why it matters”.

4       Reuben Van Hooidonk and others “Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris agreement”, Scientific Reports, vol. 6 (2016).

5       Carrie Manfrino and others, “A positive trajectory for corals at Little Cayman Island”, PLOS One, vol. 8, No.10:e75432 (2013).

6       Terry P. Hughes and others “Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals”, Nature, vol.543, No. 7645 (2017), pp. 373-377.

7       ISRS Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Bleaching, October 2015, prepared for the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Paris, December 2015. Available from http://coralreefs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ISRS-Consensus-Statement-on-Coral Bleaching-Ciimate-Change-FINAL-140ct2015-HR.pdf; Van Hooidonk and others “Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris agreement”. Hughes and others “Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals”.

8       Joshua E. Cinner and others, “Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs”, Nature, vol. 535, No. 7612 (2016), pp. 416-419.

9       Rachel A. Turner and others, “Trust, confidence, and equity affect the legitimacy of natural resource governance”, Ecology and Society, vol. 21, No.3 (2016).

Author bio: Carrie Manfrino is President and Director of Research and Conservation at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Little Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Portugal and the Ocean Economy

By Ana Paula Vitorino

Today, our world is facing the challenge of understanding and living through the Anthropocene. Although this epoch is not yet officially recognized, it is increasingly accepted that we are in a special subdivision of the geological timescale, one in which human activity has a direct impact on our planet in terms of climate and the availability of natural resources.

The global competition for the exploitation of natural resources to sustain current models of development originated in the recognition of the ocean as an extension of mainland territories. If for centuries the maritime space was regarded as one of mobility—a highway to other spaces—today ‘terrestrial’ concepts are being applied to the ocean.

This change is connected to an increase in knowledge about the sea and its resources, as well as the technological advances that have facilitated the exploration of the ocean. The public order of the oceans, which incorporates a substantial territorial component based on a clear division between national sovereignty and jurisdiction and the freedoms of the high seas beyond current maritime borders, served the circumstances of its time well, providing the stability and legal certainty necessary for the economy of the sea to develop and prosper.

As we now know, however, by the time that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) entered into force in 1994, a number of challenges that threaten the oceans and marine resources were becoming more visible and better understood, and were in part detached from the idea of territory and sovereignty. UNCLOS provides ways to respond to environmental problems with respect to the world’s oceans and allows us to incorporate those approaches into decision­making processes. It also gives us tools to manage such issues so that solutions beyond the national borders of each coastal State can be reached. The foundations laid down by the Convention, however, are not sufficient to respond to emerging global threats. Examples such as ocean acidification, marine pollution, the depletion of fish stocks and degradation of marine ecosystems are impossible to address and resolve solely from the viewpoint of national sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction. We need a holistic, shared approach to sustainably manage our oceans.

This is why Portugal is fully committed to working towards a new UNCLOS implementation agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The new agreement should reflect the best science available, and the decision-making processes set out in the agreement should incorporate this concern. We should recognize the contribution that such an agreement can and should make to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda, which deals with oceans, and to halting and reversing the decline in ocean health.

For historical, cultural and economic reasons, the ocean has shaped the lives of the Portuguese people and the ways in which we relate to others and belong to the international community. As a maritime country, the ocean is a fundamental and formative element of our identity. In support of the objective to promote and strengthen the global governance of the oceans based on a holistic and collaborative approach, the Government of Portugal created, in 2015, the Ministry of the Sea, responsible for the coordination of maritime affairs, the promotion of a sustainable ocean economy, and the formation and monitoring of ocean policies based on scientific knowledge, innovation and technological development.

The Ministry plays a cross-cutting role, coordinating several issues and the work of corresponding institutions that have traditionally depended on other sectorial ministries. These institutions support planning and knowledge related to the oceans, as well as the implementation of policies for the protection and exploitation of marine resources; the promotion of an effective presence in the sea and its uses; a sustainable sea economy; and the coordination of national participation in European and international bodies responsible for the design and monitoring of maritime policies.

The maritime areas under national sovereignty or jurisdiction—the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf, extended within the scope of the proposal presented by the Government of Portugal to the United Nations in 2009—constitute one of the main assets for the future development of the country. The biological, genetic, mineral and energy resources that these areas contain open prospects for exploration that can establish Portugal as a model for economic growth and, above all, as a protector of marine biodiversity. Moreover, Portugal is a pioneer in the preservation of special marine ecosystems outside its EEZ, such as the hydrothermal vents in the Azores, on which Portugal reports to the network of marine protected areas established by the Commission of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the OSPAR Commission).

Within this national context, it is important to address the challenge of balancing environmental protection and economic growth. In our opinion, technological and business innovation can reconcile the protection of marine biodiversity and the rights of sovereign States, including economic rights. For Portugal, innovation and the transfer of knowledge and expertise from the science and technology sectors to civil society paves the way for the world’s populations to have a more sustainable relationship with the marine environment, with a more efficient use of resources resulting in less impact.

Knowledge is an engine that can change the potential of Portugal’s geostrategic position in the following areas:

  1. The creation of added value in traditional economic activities, such as fisheries and port activity, enhancing the circular bioeconomy, avoiding the waste of resources and reconverting industrial waste. This refers specifically to the maximization of the use of sea life already caught, thereby reducing levels of catches, or the collection of marine litter, which can be recycled and reconverted into new products.
  2. New sources of sustainable growth provided by a set of emerging activities, from biotechnology to renewable ocean energy.
  3. The use of tools for the planning, monitoring and management of marine spaces to ensure the sustainable use of resources. Portugal is also in a position to assume a relevant role in the use of marine protected areas as an efficient mechanism for the management of specific marine ecosystems. Our short-term goal is to protect 10 per cent of our marine spaces.

In this respect we must assume a paradigm shift. We no longer want to simply monitor impacts; we will pursue a precautionary approach to avoid undertaking activities that could adversely affect the ocean.

In order to achieve all of this, we must also exercise our sovereignty.

Therefore, we want to:

  1. Ensure an effective presence in our seas through adequate defence, security and inspection capacities that integrate ships, aircraft and modern surveillance systems; support the observance of law, order and human security, defending the public interest in the maritime search and rescue zones under national jurisdiction or in partnerships; issue licences and regulate concessions of economic activities in maritime areas under national sovereignty or jurisdiction.
  2. Promote ocean literacy, a key element for raising awareness among the Portuguese population about the importance of the ocean in our daily lives and for teaching new generations about the benefits that oceanic ecosystems provide for society, through the inclusion of specific content in school curricula and sea activities in school sports programmes, as well as outreach programmes for adults.
  3. Promote sea management and the protection of natural capital and marine ecosystem resources by establishing priorities for action that preserve and enhance such capital through an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas, based on sound management plans that contribute to their valorization within the scope of the ocean economy.

For this to succeed it is essential to generate and manage knowledge on the tremendous resources of our oceans and seas. This requires a strategic investment in marine scientific research, which in the medium to long term will enable rapid and sustainable growth. The enhanced knowledge of ocean resources in the biological, biotechnological, geological, mineral, and energy fields will establish Portugal as a strategic partner in the international community. The Government is, therefore, determined to invest in generating knowledge about Portuguese seas as a strategic asset.

This commitment to ocean knowledge is aimed at fostering the national marine science and technology sectors as generators of highly qualified human capital and high-quality know-how, as well as establishing an international reputation that will allow us to introduce innovation in products and processes of the marine environment sector. Such a commitment is essential to ocean governance, as well as to further development of the national economy of the sea. Thus, knowledge about the seas and oceans will promote their sustainability. This approach will allow Portugal to compete in areas such as marine biotechnology, providing an opportunity for the creation of new and innovative pharmaceutical and medical applications; off­shore technologies, including underwater robotics, floating ocean structures and offshore platforms; and ocean monitoring systems and supercomputing modelling, which will enable continuous monitoring of the environmental state of the ocean and the impacts of human activity and climate change.

Portugal’s approach to the ocean economy corresponds with the major issues currently under discussion at the international level, such as marine genetic resources access and benefit-sharing; marine spatial management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; and capacity development and implementation of innovative technology. These issues are at the core of the country’s vision for a sustainable and equitable use of the ocean.

I will have the opportunity to discuss this and other issues at the Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017. I also invite everyone to the Oceans Meeting, to be held in Lisbon from 7 to 8 September 2017 under the theme “The Ocean and Human Health”. At the meeting, we intend to establish a common vision on the positive and negative effects that the oceans have on human physical and mental health.

We must all be aware of our dependence on the oceans on all levels, and we must act to ensure the sustainability of oceans now and for future generations.

Author bio: Ana Paula Vitorino is Minister of the Sea, Portugal.

Protecting Small Island Developing States from Pollution and the Effects of Climate Change

By Ahmed Sareer

There are few more powerful symbols of the international community’s shared past and future than the ocean. From the earliest human migrations, it carried our ancestors to new continents, brought civilizations together, and opened the world to exploration and trade. It also connects us ecologically. Numerous fish species swim across territorial waters to spawn and feed, supporting billion-dollar fisheries and countless livelihoods. Most importantly, the ocean is the central force in regulating the global climate that sustains us all. In fact, scientists have shown that since the onset of the industrial age, the oceans have borne the brunt of consequences from excessive burning of fossil fuels, absorbing carbon dioxide emissions and the majority of the heat generated from global warming.

But even the vast ocean has its limits. All that CO2 has turned it more acidic, effectively dissolving corals and shellfish and profoundly altering critical habitats and marine resources. At the same time, sea surface temperatures are the highest they have been in millions of years, and there is now evidence warming is occurring much deeper than previously anticipated. New research suggests that by acting as a temperature sink, the oceans have prevented catastrophic temperature rise on land. A 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature report called soaring ocean temperatures the “greatest hidden challenge of our generation.”1 “Hidden” because beneath the waves, warming has affected all marine life, from the smallest microbes to the largest whales, setting the stage for a precipitous collapse and putting “key human sectors […] at threat, especially fisheries, aquaculture, coastal risk management, health and coastal tourism.”2 This threat is particularly acute for small island developing States (SIDS). We are still highly dependent on marine resources for food and income, and need vibrant ocean habitats for our tourism businesses. We are also vulnerable to rising sea levels driven by global warming, which not only threaten our coastal infrastructure, but could also render our islands uninhabitable if left unchecked.

For these reasons, the Maldives and many other SIDS, often known as large ocean States, were some of the strongest proponents of Sustainable Development Goal 14 in the 2030 Agenda.

SDG 14 comprises a number of targets designed to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” It also recognizes that meeting these targets will be difficult if not impossible if we do not limit the greenhouse gas emissions that lie behind so many problems.

Indeed, SIDS have also led the world in efforts to implement SDG 14, from our ambitious efforts to cut emissions to sustainable development projects that help us adapt to life in a warming world. Consider SIDS work to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) that benefit millions upon millions of people who depend on healthy marine systems for food and income around the world.

Beginning in 2004, for example, the Maldives worked with the United Nations to establish the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve. It was selected because of its remarkable biodiversity and potential to demonstrate the economic benefits of conservation. In just a short period of time, the atolls have shown remarkable resilience against warming waters compared to other habitats.

In the Caribbean, the MPAs of Grenada are living evidence of how protecting essential fish habitat pays long­term benefits by raising the productivity of commercially valuable stocks.

Elsewhere, in the Pacific, Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia have devoted a significant amount of their waters to MPAs, safeguarding sharks, turtles and critical spawning grounds for countless species. They have also worked tirelessly to call attention to the problem of plastics pollution, which poses a severe threat to marine life and the human communities it sustains on land.

Still, even as we work to protect and restore marine environments, islands have been forced to make large investments to protect our shores from severe climate change impacts such as erosion and rising seas. In the Maldives, we have been forced to climate-proof infrastructure, including wharfs, roads, sea walls and sanitation. These projects are extremely costly and divert resources away from other priorities such as public health and education. Other SIDS have had to reimagine their development futures in the face of the uncertainties that stem from climate change and ocean degradation.

One thing is for sure: just as the impacts of overfishing, pollution and climate change are global, so too are the solutions. Protecting the ocean for present and future generations requires all countries to fulfil the commitments made to support the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and cut emissions. Like the ocean, SDG 14 must bring us together again.

Notes

 

1       Dan Laffoley and John M. Baxter, eds., Explaining Ocean Warming: Causes, Scale, Effects and Consequences (Gland, Switzerland, International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2016), p. 8. Available from: https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2016-046_0.pdf.

2       Ibid., p. 50.

 

Author bio: Ahmed Sareer is Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations.

The Sustainable Development Goals: a learning process for private sector, local authorities, the youth and Librarians in the country.

The United Nations Youth Association of Zambia, Chingola Chapter organized a series of discussions on the SDGs with focus on Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable in Chingola, while the other was organized through the Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ). These discussions took place from June 18 through July 21, 2016 at Icon Hotel in Chingola and Fatmols Executive Lodge in Ndola respectively.

The SDGs

The SDGs

The first discussion had youths from different backgrounds in attendance, including students at tertiary level and those in both formal and informal business. During this session they were given a general overview of the SDGs and specific information on goal 11 and its impact on the city of Chingola was given by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant UNIC Lusaka.

Mr, Zulu, Director of Planning at the Chingola City Council, shared some insight in the practical things that the council is doing in realizing SDG 11. He said that the council has partnered with UNEP and will be constructing an energy efficient and sustainable building in the centre of Chingola that will act as a show piece and example for promoting modern day buildings that are also sustainable. He also explained that the council was in the process of obtaining solar street lights and have them installed in various locations of the city as a way of averting the current power deficit being faced countrywide.

Mr. Sakala a private sector ICT entrepreneur who runs an entity called Net Innovation Enterprise in Chingola gave a presentation on how they are incorporating the SDGs as part of their operating strategy and promoting good sustainable business practices.

The Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ) holds its annual general conference in July, this year it was from 19th to 21st July 2016, and extended an invitation to the centre to present on the SDGs and how Librarians and other information professionals can help achieve them through their various channels. A presentation was done by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant together with the LIAZ President Mrs. Velenasi Munsanje. The conference with attended by 80 librarians from different institutions countrywide, encompassing academic and professional bodies.

Information professionals were reminded that libraries make an important contribution to development, it was also highlighted that economic development can be broadened so that it now involves not only the reduction in poverty, inequality and unemployment but also to an improvement in the quality of life which includes a cleaner environment, better education, good health and nutrition.

In our knowledge society, libraries provide access and opportunity for all. Libraries guarantee access to information, a cross-cutting target that supports all SDGs said the LIAZ President.

While SDGs are universal goals, each country is responsible for developing and implementing national strategies in order to achieve them. The relevance of libraries and other specialized units is key to creating awareness and promoting the SDGs by aligning themselves to the specifics of the SDGs.

Mr. Nonde, emphasized that libraries have the responsibility of transforming our world
increasing access to information and knowledge across the society, assisted by the availability of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), supports sustainable development and improves people’s lives

UN Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan tours the Copperbelt: Economic Development and the SDGs

The UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms. Janet Rogan undertook a one-week tour of the Copperbelt from June 27 to June 30, 2016. During this time, she visited a number of private sector entities in the mining industry at small to large scale from Lufwanyama to Chililabombwe in order to better understand their business models and the various partnerships if any that exist and how they fit into the development agenda of the country and the SDGs. She also visited one of the largest beef producing farms in the country Zambeef located in Mpongwe district, Copperbelt.

Monday June 27

There were two visits to the Provincial Administration; courtesy calls to the Permanent Secretary Rev. Howard J Sikwela and the Commissioner of Police Ms. Charity Katanga

After the visits in Ndola, the mission went to Mpongwe and visited the Mpongwe Agriculture Development Corporation being managed by Zambeef Zambia limited. During the visit, the team was met by Ms. Brenda Lombard who is the Commercial manager. Ms. Lombard gave an outline of the operations of Zambeef and its expansion program in the chicken production unit, where it has plans to supply an average of 300,000 chicks every week. The expansion will create at least 3000 jobs for the locals and ready market for maize for the small scale farmers in and around Mpongwe, as Zambeef would require an average 30,000 tons of maize for stock feed production on a monthly basis.

The mission also visited one of the clinics and school that Zambeef supports. At the school the Ms. Rogan took time to engage with the pupils and discussed the role of the UN in development activities. She encouraged the girl child on the importance of getting an education with the message “school first and babies later”. She also shared the information with the pupils the work of the UN and this was appreciated as there was little knowledge on the subject matter. At the clinic she was given a tour of the facility and the services they provide including provision of ART and management of medical waste. On medical waste management the mission engaged the health staff to explore modern and efficient technologies of waste management that do not only contribute to environmental protection but also mitigate climate change such as autoclave.
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Tuesday June 28

UN Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan Entourage touring Lufwanyama at Dambisa Mine

UN Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan Entourage touring Lufwanyama at Dambisa Mine

The day begun with an inception meeting with the Executive Team of the Emerald Mining Association of Zambia in Kitwe. The president of the association gave a brief history of the mining operations on the Copperbelt and that of the Association highlighting the following:
• The need for capacity building to support the small scale miners
• Access to long term financing
• Need to help miners with skills development
• Support towards linkages to big players in the industry

While in Lufwanyama The RC’s entourage visited two small scale emerald mining sites (one operational, the other not) and a large scale mine owned and operated by Gemcanton.

i. The first site visited is owned by Ms. Violet Lewis and at the time of the visit, no mining activities were ongoing as it was flooded which is one of the challenges faced by small mining operations. The flooding occurs due to lack of equipment for pumping water.
ii. The second site visited was at Dabwisa Small Scale Mining Operation owned and managed by Mr. Malan Ngwira, a retired teacher. Despite being small scale, the local investor has mobilized heavy duty machinery to help in the mining of the emeralds. It was also observed that the work force had the appropriate protective gear to enable them work in the hazardous environment.

iii. Visit to Gemcanton/Grizzly Large Scale Emerald Mining: The visit begun with an induction from mine management at which they explained the investment portfolio of the mine. Key lesson at this mine was the deliberate effort to retool local uneducated staff in some of the

Snap shoot of the open pit mine at Gemcanton mine lufwanyama

Snap shoot of the open pit mine at Gemcanton mine lufwanyama

company’s mining chains. Local staff are being recruited to work as sorters, welders, miners and machine operators. After a period of 6 months, the recruited staff are awarded certificates which will enable them to get employed in any mine. The company is also supporting adult evening classes for those who want to learn English. From the time the company took over the operations of the mine in 2015, they have managed to increase the workforce from 300 to 700.

The team was then taken on a tour of the mining operations on site that included the open pit mine, the washer and sorting areas.

Gemcanton Management also reaffirmed its commitment to support other mining operations in the area and exploring possible partnerships with small scale miners especially in helping to negotiate better prices as they have global links with key players in the sector. They requested the UN to continue supporting the policy framework that would enable them to operate effectively. The issue of electricity supply was cited as a key challenge that the sector is facing. Furthermore, there is need for government to develop infrastructure such as roads to support the sector.

Wednesday June 29

Visit to Konkola Copper Mines, Chililabombwe and Nchanga

One of the anode making sections at Nchanga Mine in Chingola

One of the anode making sections at Nchanga Mine in Chingola

After meeting management at the headquarters of KCM, the team was taken on a tour of the underground mining operations in Chililabombwe and operations at Nchanga, Chingola and shown the process of how the copper anodes are produced.

Thursday June 30

Private Partnership meeting Mukuba Hotel, Ndola

Private Partnership meeting Mukuba Hotel, Ndola

Private Sector dialogue at Mukuba hotel, the RC delivered a speech at this forum and also gave an exclusive interview to the media houses present on the side lines of the dialogue. Among the issues she spoke on included the referendum, the bill of rights and its meaning to the people of Zambia.

The RC lead the discussion and advocacy on how the private sector could be part of the global development agenda through the UN led concepts on Business Call to Action and the Global Compact
Ndola Energy Limited (NEL) – Power producer (50 MW) from heavy fuels

After the the private sector dialogue meeting in the morning, the RC Team visited Ndola Energy, the team was oriented in the inner working of the plant and given a safety talk before being taken around the plant. The visitors learnt that NEL sells its power to ZESCO and depends on Indeni for its raw materials FCO that it uses in the production of electricity. The purpose of the visits was to engage with different players in the energy sector on how they can contribute towards the attainment of SDG 7, Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and also contribute to the country’s energy mix

Friday July 1

Visit to Kitwe- Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation

RC meeting with the women's group in kitwe

UN Resident Coordinator meeting with the women’s group in kitwe

The purpose of this visit was to showcase some of the women who have not only benefitted from housing units but also skills that they have obtained in assembling solar panels and installing them. The women’s group also makes its own bricks which it uses to construct houses in the area. Of the 150 plots given 100 of them have fully constructed units or are in various stages of completion.

Ms. Bupe the coordinator of the Federation explained that the financial support that the women received for raw materials was in the form of a loan that acted as revolving fund to help those in need of assistance.

One of the women took the team around her house and explained how she was able to design and install an electrical system for the solar panel, she also explained that she earns some extra income from the skills she obtained in assembling and installing solar systems within the neighborhood and beyond. RC congratulated the women for commitment and advised them to transform the initiative into a business.

Zambia Celebrates 70 years of the United Nations

United Nations this year celebrates its 70th anniversary on 24th October 2015. This marks the day in 1948 when the Charter of the United Nations was brought into force. UN Day is celebrated every year to recognize how much the UN contributes to the world peace and common progress.

Zambia commemorated the UN Day under the global theme “UN@70-Strong UN Better World”.
The UN Day celebrations are an opportunity to promote universal values and principles and renew its relations with its various national and international partners. 2015 is unique and historic as it being promoted as the “time for global action” for Sustainable Development.

Furthermore, the UN day celebrations are a great opportunity to promote the UN system as a development partner with the government and various partners. It is a time to reflect on the many areas in which the UN works such as human rights, gender and environmental norms and values across the sustainable development partnership.

This year the UN day celebrations in Zambia raised awareness, of the UN’s vision and role in Zambia, to create greater understanding across government and society of the sustainable development goals in particular SDG 16 and the UN in Zambia’s strengthened focus on partnership and to strengthen relations between the UN county team and partners, both present and potential new actors such as the private sector.

Amid the threat of poverty, economic crises, underdevelopment and regional conflicts, peacekeeping has become the main focus of the UN, whose vast family of agencies are tirelessly engaged in improving people’s lives around the world. Better rates of child survival, greater environmental protection, improved human rights, health research and continuing work to eliminate poverty, among countless other achievements, are all examples of the UN’s success since its establishment were the many things highlighted during the celebrations.

Students from Northmead Secondary School preparing art works

Students from Northmead Secondary School preparing art works

As part of the UN Day activities, a school art exhibition was also organized under the theme “bluing the UN” which runs from October 22 to November 1 at various locations including the UN Information Centre. Students used the UN corporate colors blue and white to interpret what the UN meant to them. 10 schools representing 60 students participated to produce 70 art works, the themes covered included health, gender equality, education, peacekeeping, refugees and the flagship theme UN@70 among the many other broad areas in which the UN is engaged in worldwide.

At the reception hosted at the residence of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Janet Rogan on October 20, 2015. It was a colourful ceremony for invited guests that included Government, UN partners, donors, Civil Society and corporate entities like Standard Chartered Bank. The UN used this occasion to also rally the men to sign up for the HeforShe Campaign as a way of showing their support against gender based violence.

The climax of the celebrations was with a UN staff Day on 0ctober 22, 2015 held at the Mulungushi Conference Centre dubbed the “UN Staff learning day” were staff learnt about their unique position in the delivering as one process and how they are expected to continue to deliver on the promise of leaving no one behind. Later in the day it was time to relax and dance the night away as they celebrated 70 years of the United Nations.

HeforShe registration, left to right Vincent Mwale, the minister of youth and sport, Stephen Kaunda, UNDP and Mulenga Sata, Deputy Minister State House

HeforShe registration, left to right Vincent Mwale, the minister of youth and sport, Stephen Kaunda, UNDP and Mulenga Sata, Deputy Minister State House

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Why Addressing Inequality Matters by Chantal Line Carpentier, Richard Kozul-Wright and Fabio David Passos

The Rio+20 negotiations began amidst the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, which made it abundantly clear that the economic, social and environmental imbalances that had built up recently could no longer be tackled separately, sequentially, or by countries acting alone. Despite rapid export growth, strong capital inflows and high commodity prices in the developing world, the resulting income gains had been unevenly distributed, and many poorer countries and communities remained vulnerable to shocks and reversals. Crisis came in the wake of slow growth, massive income redistribution in favour of the top 1 per cent and an explosion in private debt, provoking not only a degree of moral soul-searching but also raising concerns about the fragility of the social compact.

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

It was recognized that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would have to be more universal and more inclusive than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to address a wider range of socioeconomic differences around which inequalities had emerged and grown.

The Scale of Inequality

Compared to 30 years ago, income inequality has risen in a startling number of countries and is at its highest level in most member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since the end of the Second World War. Moreover, income inequality has been compounded by wealth inequality, particularly in countries with already high inequality levels such as the United States of America. Other traditionally more egalitarian countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, have also seen the gaps between rich and poor increase.

Economists have been making the connection between globalization and income convergence, and closing income gaps across nations appears to be a clear trend, reflecting the growth slowdown in rich countries and sustained rapid growth in China and later in India. However, the trend is less secure than many had initially envisaged (The Economist explains, 2014). Moreover, recent growth spurts in developing countries have themselves coincided with rising levels of inequality, in some cases as or even more pronounced than in advanced economies.

Combining these intra/inter-inequality trends is no easy task, though overall, the global Gini coefficient has, on some estimates, dropped slightly over the last 20 years (Lakner and Milanovic, 2013), in no small part because wage earners in the advanced countries have seen their incomes squeezed. Even so, and except for the few most unequal countries, it is still greater, and by far, than inequality within countries.

Understanding inequality dynamics and their links within and across countries is one of the biggest challenges facing analysts and is also at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

Why Inequality Matters?

It is clear that inequality can be a serious threat to social and political stability. There is a growing recognition, however, that it can also threaten sustained growth. A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed that greater equality of income increased the duration of countries’ economic growth spells more than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt (Berg and Ostry, 2011). There is literature exploring the links between growing inequality and economic shocks and crises (Bordo and Meissner, 2012), a connection that appears to be closely associated with the greater economic and political weight of unregulated financial flows and markets (UNCTAD, 2012).

Inequality jeopardizes the achievement of the overarching economic goals proposed by t he Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, such as eliminating extreme poverty, boosting decent work and transforming economic structures. Inequality is not a matter of fate or chance and can be reversed through policies and reforms, a point made recently in the path-breaking research of Thomas Piketty. While solutions rest with national and regional policy makers, collective actions and measures at the international level also have a crucial role to play.

SDG 10: Reduce Inequality within and among Countries by 2030

The SDGs

The SDGs

The OWG on SDGs proposed a stand-alone goal on inequality with seven targets and three means to achieve them. The first target calls for the income of the bottom 40 per cent of the population to grow faster than the national average; the second—for the empowerment, social and economic inclusion of all, irrespective of race, ethnicity or economic status; and the third—for ensuring equal opportunity and reducing inequalities of outcome, including through eliminating discrimination by means of appropriate policies and actions.

Four other targets focus on progressively adopting policies to promote greater equality, including fiscal policies, regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions, policies to promote the orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, and the long-standing issue of fair representation and voice of developing countries in the global governance system.

Proposed means of implementation are more vague and more difficult to quantify and to develop indicators that will help measure progress towards reducing inequalities. Further thinking is needed. Specific proposed means include: 1) upholding the principle of special and differential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs); 2) directing official development assistance and encouraging financial flows, including foreign direct investment to countries in special situation such as LDCs, African countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries; and 3) reducing the cost of migrant remittances transfers to below 5 per cent.

Can We Achieve this Goal by 2030?

Whether the targets and means under SDG 10 and SDG 17 will reduce inequalities by 2030, depends on the robustness of indicators selected to guide and monitor progress, the presence of political will for regional and international cooperation to rebalance the global system, and strengthened policy coherence.

Tackling within country inequalities will require increased policy and fiscal space at the national level to enact the country-specific mix of policies needed to lift all boats and, in particular, to increase the income of those at the bottom. Two crucial variables will be jobs and wages. Job creation remains the only assured way of tack ling poverty on a sustained basis, in particular where the labour force is expanding rapidly. But rising wages are also necessary to expand domestic demand, increasingly seen as an essential component of more sustainable growth (UNCTAD, 2013). Countries will thus have to build the kind of infrastructure and productive capacity that lead to a more diversified economy, moving away from dependence on commodities and achieving some degree of success in more sophisticated industrial activities, which relies on industrial policy.

Addressing imbalances arising from the international economic system will require global reforms of financial, investment, trade, monetary and fiscal system in order to reduce volatility. International conventions against tax avoidance and evasion to stem the use of tax competition and tax havens to circumvent fiscal responsibilities would help ensure sufficient financing for long-term investment projects of the kind that are required to achieve the inclusive and sustainable development paths. Between 8 and 15 per cent of the net financial wealth of households is held in tax havens, resulting in a loss of public revenue amounting to between US $190 and US $290 billion annually. Half of it is from developing countries, which may also be losing over US $160 billion annually through misuse of “transfer pricing” and “thin capitalization” for shifting accounting profits to low or no-tax jurisdictions. Making mandatory and extending the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative would also help mobilize domestic resources.

While global reform will be slow, greater stability at the regional level can be generated by building up alternative rules and institutions to provide a degree of protection from financial shocks, requiring significant amount of capacity-building, South-South and triangular cooperation and also a fiscal cooperation space. For example, China’s success has relied on selective capital controls, countercyclical fiscal policy and active monetary policies aimed at stable exchange rates, as well as a full range of active industrial policies instead of solely focusing on GDP growth (UNCTAD, 2013).

Finally, an integrated policy framework that reflects all development models and ensures policy coherence across goals will be needed to assure that social, economic and environmental goals are mutually supportive.

References

Berg, Andrew G., and Jonathan D. Ostry (2011). Inequality and Unsustainable Growth: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. IMF Staff Discussion Note SDN/11/08 (8 April).  Available from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2011/sdn1108.pdf.

Bordo, Michael, and Christopher M. Meissner (2012). Does inequality lead to a financial crisis?, 24 March. Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)’s Policy Portal. Available from http://www.voxeu. org/article/does-inequality-lead-financial-crisis.

C.W. (2014). “Why globalization may not reduce inequality in poor countries” (2 September). The Economist explains. Available from http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/09/ economist-explains-0.

Lakner, Christoph and Branko Milanovic (2013). Global income distribution: from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the great recession, vol. 1. Policy Research Working Paper, No. 6719. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Available from http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/ main?pagepK=64165259&thesitepK=469382&pipK=64165421&me nupK=64166093&entityiD=000158349_20131211100152

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (2011).

Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. December 2011.

Available from http://www.oecd.org/els/soc /49170768.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2011). World Investment Report 2011: Non-equity Modes of International Production and Development. Sales No. E.11.ii.D. 2. Available from http:// unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/wir2011_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2012). Trade Financing and Regional Financial Institutions from a South–South Perspective. Trade and Development Board. Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission Multi-year Expert Meeting on International Cooperation: South–South Cooperation and Regional Integration, Geneva, 24-25 October 2012. Distr.: General 15 August 2012. TD/B/C .II/MEM.2/11. Available from
http://unctad.org/meetings/en/sessionalDocuments/ciimem2d11_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2013).

Growth and Poverty Eradication: Why Addressing Inequality Matters. Post-2015 Policy Brief, no. 02, November 2013. New York and Geneva. Available from http://unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/

presspb2013d4_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2014). Website of the 61st session of UNCTAD Trade and Development Board. Available from http://unctad.org/en/pages/MeetingDetails.aspx?meetingid= 490.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

Chantal Line Carpentier is Chief of the New York office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Richard Kozul-Wright is Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. Fabio David Passos is an intern at UNCTAD and a student in International Economic Politics and Financial Markets at School of Professional Studies, Center for Global Affairs, New York University.

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

A Sustainable Future of Infrastructure By Grete Faremo

UNOPS has a key role to play in building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation

Investing in basic, sustainable infrastructure is essential to improving the living standards for communities worldwide. When we speak of the basics, we mean the fundamentals. These are issues which comprise common human needs all over the world. Just because these are basics, however, does not mean that addressing such concerns correctly is a simple task. In the case of infrastructure it requires coordinated, long-term planning that stretches across geographic, political and cultural boundaries.

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

For too long infrastructure has been understood and evaluated solely by the presence of a building or a completed roadway. We know, however, that a hospital cannot function without a solid waste system, and a waste system, in turn, cannot function without the acquired and applied knowledge, institutions and underlying resources necessary to manage it. Yet when we talk about infrastructure, this understanding beyond the immediate is still too often overlooked. We need a shift in this thinking.

Quite simply, without infrastructure we would not have a healthy society. Essential services such as health care and education require infrastructure. For communities and businesses to operate and thrive, they need access to goods and markets. Infrastructure must respond to societal needs, but it also should be evaluated for its long-term outcome, including the resources required to ensure longevity.

Many of the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) will require solid, functional and sustainable infrastructure if they are to be reached. Reliable forms of energy, the availability of potable water, education, safety and security, social and economic services—all of these are made possible through resilient infrastructure.

However, this very reliance creates significant challenges. We must consider the bigger picture, both in terms of the opportunities and the risks. We must support development, but what if something goes wrong? What is the environment in which we are operating? What are the issues in today’s world? With climate change, for example, comes an increase in the frequency of natural disasters. So sustainable infrastructure not only supports development, but is essential for post-disaster recovery as well.

With our mandate within the United Nations system to lead on infrastructure, and our 20 years of experience developing infrastructure projects, the success of any infrastructure goal requires learning the lessons from practical experiences. We have this at the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The international community and industry must work together to ensure that investment in infrastructure considers risk, placing security and resilience at its core.

At UNOPS our experience is broad and built upon partnerships. We work with the United Nations system, Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Our model encourages private investors to prioritize sustainable development. And right now, increased investment is needed to improve the security and resilience of critical infrastructure in developing countries.

The destruction caused by recent natural disasters in communities around the world highlights the need for a risk-based approach to sustainable infrastructure. Our work covers these areas. For example, in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, UNOPS supported the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization in a wide range of post-disaster activities, including the construction of shelters for the affected populations and managing the vast quantities of debris. We have also supported the Government of Brazil in constructing earthquake and cyclone resistant community hospitals, which incorporate environmentally friendly infrastructure such as external solar lamps and rainwater harvesting. There are many more such examples.

Existing infrastructure is also an important consideration. Assessments should be conducted seeking to understand how the structures already in place can be serviced and repaired. How do various developments interact with existing water treatment facilities, roads, bridges and utility grids, wherever they are in the world? It sounds simple, yet in many cases and in many parts of the world this factor is of ten overlooked.

Where risks cannot be eliminated, we need to improve management and mitigation. Disaster risk reduction aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards through prevention. There

The SDGs

The SDGs

is a direct correlation between risk and resilience—a reduction in risk contributes to an increase in resilience. In turn, effectively managing risk in our projects will contribute to more sustainable infrastructure development. This connection also needs to be better understood.

Whereas the resilience of infrastructure can be seen as the ability to absorb stresses caused by natural hazards—for example, how a building responds to an earthquake—the sustainability of infrastructure looks at the impact of that building on the environment. Sustainability helps reduce the footprint of a development, while resilience allows infrastructure to better withstand environmental impacts.

There are many principles and complexities within these issues. Ultimately, what is clear is that infrastructure systems must be developed in a way that supports essential services over the long term, beyond political cycles.

Without consideration of all of these factors, sustainable infrastructure will always be just a horizon we never reach. Which is why as we set the future agenda, we must not forget that truly sustainable development is reliant on its foundations, on the infrastructure upon which success can be built.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

 

Grete Faremo is Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services.

 

Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Rising to the Challenge: Enabling Access to Clean and Safe Water Globally
By Justin D. Brookes and Cayelan C. Carey

Justin D. Brookes is Director of the Water Research Centre at the Environment Institute, School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Cayelan C. Carey is Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, United States of America.

Access to clean, safe and secure water resources is an essential prerequisite for communities to prosper. While access to water and sanitation is often taken for granted in developed countries, this basic right is denied to many across the globe every day.

Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Sustainable development goal (SDG) 6, as formulated by the United Nations Open Working Group, presents an ambitious, yet achievable mission for the next two decades: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” We propose that this goal can be achieved by applying four principles: 1) Separating drinking water from wastewater; 2) Accessing and treating drinking water to remove chemical and biological contaminants; 3) Protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems; and 4) Guaranteeing water access and water rights.

1. Separating drinking water from waste water
Historically, the single biggest factor contributing to the increased longevity of humans was the separation of drinking water from waste water. Building sanitary infrastructure has enabled communities—and in turn, economies—to flourish, free from the burden of waterborne disease. Yet, today a staggering 1 billion people still do not have access to improved sanitation, in spite of the fact that it would reduce disease and infant mortality. There are many examples of successful sanitation projects in the developing world when financial resources and engineering are available. They demonstrate that it is possible to separate water for drinking from waste water in regions that traditionally have lacked this infrastructure. Although many challenges remain to ensuring adequate sanitation for all, building sanitary infrastructure is a critical step needed to achieve SDG 6.

2. Accessing and treating drinking water
Having water available at home or within short distances obviates the need to cart it from other sources, often over long distances. A direct result of greater water accessibility is a substantial increase in time available for productive work, attending school, developing a business, or raising a family. This is particularly relevant for women and children who spend significant time gaining access to water when it is not piped to their home. Ultimately, water will require treatment before drinking, but this challenge can be overcome with adequate resources for filtration and disinfection. In particular, point-of-use devices that are robust, reliable, require low maintenance and are widely available are needed to enable treatment for small drinking water systems. In tandem with principle 1 above, this will ensure there are multiple barriers to pathogens, offering greater protection to consumers.

3. Protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems
We must also be cognizant of the relationship between ecosystem well-being and human health. Most of the world’s fresh waters have already been degraded due to unsustainable withdrawal, contaminants, climate change, nutrient pollution (eutrophication), and other human activities. The net result of human misuse and mismanagement of fresh waters is decreased water quality and inadequate quantity for consumption. Preserving and enhancing the ecological integrity of our freshwater lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater is critical for ensuring that pollutants and pathogens do not contaminate drinking water supplies. Functioning freshwater ecosystems have many built-in mechanisms that help naturally clean water that we need for drinking (e.g. riparian buffers that absorb stormwater run-off). As with principles 1 and 2 above, developing sanitary infrastructure is pivotal for protecting fresh waters from eutrophication, which is one of the greatest challenges to functioning freshwater ecosystems. Balancing the maintenance of natural capital and the provision of ecosystem services with development and increased productivity is the key to ensuring the future sustainability of our water resources.

4. Guaranteeing water access and water rights
Economic development inevitably requires water resources. However, it is imperative that planners and Governments are considerate of the needs of diverse water users, including communities, agriculture, industry, mining and the environment. All development and land use changes have consequences. For example, land clearing will alter river flows, increasing the risk of flooding. Similarly, deforestation will decrease evapotranspiration, reducing precipitation needed for agriculture downwind. As the need for water for agriculture and industry increases, it is critical that we develop water-sharing agreements to ensure equitable access for all water users, including the environment. These agreements will require negotiations across local, regional and national boundaries and must include participants representing all stakeholders, such as community and industry leaders, and scientists. While these discussions may be difficult, they are not impossible and will help ensure adequate water access for all.
Implementing the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda

Tremendous progress has already been made towards meeting SDG 6. As nations have become more prosperous, they have undertaken sanitation and drinking water improvement programmes. Nevertheless, the astonishing statistics regarding the number of people who still lack sanitation and access to safe drinking water emphasizes that this problem remains one of the greatest humanitarian challenges.

Leadership is required at every level to implement water reform: within the household, within municipalities and within Governments. The solutions for supplying potable water and sanitation vary depending upon the available resources, the size of the communities and the scale of the desired improvement. We advocate both “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches. Top-down water quality improvement and water allocation may appear as an imposition, but are often accompanied with more resources and provide the legislative framework necessary for sustainable development. “Bottom-up” improvement is also desirable as communities take responsibility and stewardship for the water resources and land for which they are custodians.

Education is the common prerequisite for water quality improvement. In developing nations, educating women and children in every household on the benefits of hygiene and sanitation is a fundamental first step for building awareness and implementing change. Advancing water quality in villages, towns and cities requires engineering, but also understanding of the close links between water quality and quantity, and land management. In developed nations with more advanced water treatment infrastructure, the educational focus should be on improving water sustainability and developing policies required for water reform.

Human water use across the globe is coupled with social and natural systems, both by the globalized economy, trade and capital, as well as by the global water cycle and climate systems. Therefore, local and regional water use cannot be managed in isolation. The responsibility of developed nations is not just to provide financial aid, but also to assist developing countries in building human capital with the skills necessary to improve water quality and sanitation. Developed nations can help research and advance new water treatment technologies, providing sustainable solutions for water management. Investment of time and resources to the development of low-cost, robust and reliable point-of-use devices is urgently needed.

Water reform needs to address the protection of water quality through prudent land management and the allocation of water between different users. Equitably sharing water resources between human consumers, the environment, industry, and agriculture is complex

The SDGs

The SDGs

and requires strong water governance and policy so that the needs of both upstream and downstream users are met. This is further complicated by the fact that rivers flow across local, regional and national boundaries. Integrated water-trading markets are one tool that enables water to be bought and sold as a tradable commodity. This practice, however, does not consider water for the environment, which needs protection through policy and legislation.

Conclusion

Water sustains life, but clean, safe drinking water defines civilization. Achieving SDG 6 promises dramatic improvement to the quality of life and longevity in some of the world’s poorest nations. If we declare that access to clean, safe drinking water is a basic human right, then providing the necessary education, infrastructure and support to ensure the success in achieving SDG 6 is the responsibility of us all.