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Time for more integrated action - with urgency, cohesion and high ambition

In September 2015, the Member States of the UN agreed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to address economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and integrated manner. Included are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets, most of which have a deadline of 2030, though 21 expire in 2020 or have no explicit deadline.

There are 12 targets that integrate elements of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.  These 12 targets fall within five goal areas - SDG 2 (Food security), SDG 6 (Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Consumption and Production), SDG 14 (Life in Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Alignment with existing UN agreements is an important feature of the SDGs and supports greater policy coherence and integration across UN frameworks.

Given that most of these targets will not be achieved by 2020, a clear process is required to extend efforts to 2030.  New targets must drive delivery on the environment-related SDGs - without success on this front, the delivery of all the other SDGs will be threatened. 

The Road to 2030
The UN’s High-Level Political Forum meets annually to review both the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. In 2017, six goals falling under the theme of 'Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world' were reviewed.

In 2018, the progress of five further goals was evaluated under the theme of 'Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies'.

In 2019, the final five goals for this cycle of SDGs implementation will be reviewed at the HLPF under the theme of 'Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality'. These are: 
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all 
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (reviewed every year)
The deadline of 21 SDG targets in 2020 represents a political challenge for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The decision on updating these targets ultimately lies with UN Member States meeting in the General Assembly.

At the same time, in October 2020 at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD, Parties are expected to agree on a post-2020 framework that will include a set of targets to succeed the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Preparatory work to define the new targets is underway.

It will be important to align the UNGA process and the CBD post-2020 targets to ensure a coordinated set of goals moving towards 2030, and that the existing relationship between the 2030 Agenda and the CBD is maintained.
HLPF 2019: The actions WWF recommends governments take

Embed education for sustainable development in both formal and informal education in order to promote achievement of the SDGs

Education is not only a fundamental right; it also forms a cornerstone of development. In the same way, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is fundamental to sustainable development. By shaping values and perspectives, and developing skills and knowledge, it plays a crucial role in the transformation towards a sustainable, equitable and peaceful society.

Radical transformation towards a sustainable, fair and inclusive economy

Our economic model is destroying our planet. We need to ensure the true value of nature and its contributions to people are systematically factored into economic decisions and environmental externalities are incorporated into economic systems.

Responsible global consumption, production and supply chains to address inequality, achieve food security and combat climate change

Environmental degradation, loss of nature and labour exploitation in poor countries are often associated with the production of export goods that are consumed in wealthier countries. Transparent and responsible trade, markets, investments and finance must be developed for commodities, especially for those which pose risk to forests and other ecosystems, which many of the world’s poorest people rely on to meet their basic needs.

Seismic shifts in energy, land and sea use and scaled up nature-based solutions in order to reduce CO2 emissions, foster adaptation and resilience and ensure climate justice

Alongside reducing fossil fuel emissions, nature-based solutions offer a significant contribution to mitigation and adaptation to climate change, while providing valuable co-benefits for people and ecosystems.

Guaranteed safe civic space to ensure empowerment, inclusivity and equity for local communities

Partnerships between state and non-state actors for the SDGs must be inclusive of civil society organisations. In addition to this, indigenous peoples and local communities must be empowered to continue their positive contributions to sustainable development. This includes through public recognition of land, resource and self-determination rights; the application of the principle of free, prior and informed consent; and improved collaboration, benefit sharing and co-management arrangements of natural resources with local communities.

Guaranteed safe civic space and an end to environmental corruption and crime to ensure empowerment, inclusivity and equity for local communities

A vibrant and safe civic space, including access to justice, decision-making and transparent information, is an incontestable condtion for the achievement of the SDGs. Corruption is a major driver of resource depletion and environmental crime, and needs to be addressed through improving the integrity and transparency of government and private sector decision-making regarding natural resource management.

Continuity of environmental targets through 2030, strengthened policy coherence, and investments that are aligned with nature for the benefit of all people

12 environment targets under the SDGs have a 2020 end date because they were based on targets originally agreed under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as part of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which conclude in 2020. The HLPF has a responsibility to ensure that there is a clear way forward to update these targets, maintaining policy alignment between the 2030 Agenda and the CBD. It will ensure the integrity of the 2030 Agenda with a strong and integrated environmental dimension. States should also review and repeal policies that support or promote environmentally harmful activities, and put in place policies that support investments in nature, including through new financial products.

Case studies: What WWF is doing

WWF works at both a global and national level to with governments, private sector and consumers to address the governance challenges affecting development and advocate for sustainable decision-making.

In the Inuit communities of Arviat and Igloolik, northern Canada, WWF is working closely with organisations, governments and communities to keep citizens and polar bears safe by reducing encounters between polar bears and communities.

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The Inirida Fluvial Star in Colombia is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. For the past nine years, WWF has facilitated co-operation between local government authorities and 12 communities to promote the sustainable management of the area.

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In the Democratic Republic of Congo, WWF has worked with the Ministry of Rural Development to design a tool for indigenous and local communities to monitor progress on SDGs implementation. The tool helps local and indigenous communities collect data which is used to inform policy analysis at the provincial and national levels.

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Over the past two years, WWF has brought together 10 UK companies buying leather in India, to form the Leather Buyers’ Platform. This Platform is improving water quality along the Ganga River by reducing pollution from local tanneries and promoting sustainable leather production.

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For the past 11 years, WWF has partnered with local communities and the Government of Nepal Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS) to deliver a programme promoting sustainable water management.

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Cities are the front line of tackling climate change. In 2011, WWF launched the One Planet City Challenge initiative which invites cities to publicly report on their contributions to global climate targets. The initiative has increased the amount of quality data available on cities’ contribution to national and global action on climate change

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Zambia is ranked as one of the countries with the highest food security problems. The Western Provinces is one of the most remote areas of the country, with a very high variability of rainfall. For the past five years, WWF Zambia has trained 2.500 families of smallholder farmers on Conservation Agriculture. The main focus is to increase natural soil fertility, avoid shifting cultivation and halt human-wildlife conflict.

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In 2015, WWF started working with biscuit producer Bahlsen to make its palm oil supply chains sustainable and transparent from the small, local farmers in Sabah through to the refineries in Europe and ultimately to Bahlsen itself. By using better planting material and with good fertiliser management, smallholder farmers can also increase their yields and maintain the fertility of their soils for a long time.

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Over the past five years, WWF has supported conservation agriculture in the Atlantic Forest ecoregion in Paraguay through the cultivation of Yerba Mate, or Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis) concentrate extract in form of edible powder. The farming techniques used for Yerba Mate help protect and restore the Atlantic forest, watersheds, and its species.

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The Sustainable Consumption and Production Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines (SCP TIP) project aims to improve capacity to integrate SCP principles in politics, private businesses and civil society as a means for living up to national climate strategies. Through the whole campaign, multi-sectoral awareness on the environmental impacts of the food service industry is created, and ways to reduce this footprint are demonstrated, across South East Asia

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WWF at HLPF 2018