In September 2019, Heads of State and Government will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to follow up and comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event is the first UN summit on the SDGs since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.
Global progress towards achieving the SDGs is slow, and for many targets, off track. While SDG implementation is primarily a national task and responsibility, it also requires concerted international cooperation. This article presents two arguments why foreign policy could play an important role in their achievement.
No country is immune to natural hazards, but for fragile states, the effects are even more severe. Mostly, conflict prevention and humanitarian aid are seen as more pressing priorities to protect livelihoods there. This pushes efforts of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to the bottom of the priority list and results in compounded pressures.
The challenges facing the international community are growing while the willingness to cooperate seems to be waning and unilateral action at times gets in the way of joint solutions. Foreign policy can pave the way for transformative change by actively supporting a major achievement of multilateralism: the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals have a common aim: more peace and justice worldwide. But what exactly is the role of foreign policy in the global sustainability architecture? What are the fields of engagement and tools of a new "Diplomacy for Sustainability"?
Resource consumption has grown exponentially over the past: between 1970 and 2010, the quantity of extracted materials has tripled. Not only the overall amount of resources extracted and consumed has risen rapidly, but also the diversity of resources has grown. While half a century ago, only a few materials such as wood, brick, iron, copper, and plastics were in high demand worldwide, today products are more complex and require a wide range of materials.
Climate diplomacy needs to release itself from the shackles of ‘systemic’ politics in order to achieve a climate agenda that is driven by human security interests, including equity and justice, and strengthen climate change initiatives at local, national and regional levels, in order to bridge the gap caused by the slow pace of progress at the international level.
Limited access to energy is a significant barrier to development and holds back efforts to improve living conditions in developing and emerging economies. Around the world, 1.1 billion people still do not have access to electricity, and 2.8 billion still rely on animal and crop waste, wood, charcoal and other solid fuels to cook their food and heat their homes.
China is rapidly evolving into one of the world’s largest overseas investors and is now increasingly investing in the renewable energy sector. China has also enhanced its development cooperation stance through its ever more ambitious south-south cooperation agendas. As an emerging key international donor, China is at a crossroads and actively shaping its new role in the global development landscape. Could China become a new climate responsible donor?
The unabated growth of natural resource consumption raises risks that we will outstrip the capacities of ecosystems and governance institutions. At the same time, to achieve important global goals related to poverty alleviation, public health, equity and economic development such as those embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we will simultaneously need more resources and better management of natural resources everywhere.
Current trends depict an irreversible momentum for a global energy transformation. Renewables have moved to the centre of the global energy landscape. Technological advances and falling costs have made renewables grow faster than any other energy source. Many renewable technologies are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the power sector, even before taking into account their contributions to the battles against air pollution and climate change. These trends are creating an irreversible momentum for a global energy transformation leading to shifts that will affect almost all countries and will have wide-ranging geopolitical consequences.
This report published by IRENA's Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Energy & Industry, and the German Federal Foreign Office looks into these developments from a foreign policy perspective.
Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across the Latin American landmass has often been presented as one of the holy grails of development for the region. While China’s idea of a ‘Nicaraguan Canal’ has made headlines globally, another major infrastructure project is in the works further south: the Bi-Oceanic Railway. The idea has already spurred transboundary environmental cooperation, but the public is still in the dark.
Finding domestic alternatives for rare earths has become a matter of national security, according to a recently released Pentagon report. The United States’ defense, economy, and infrastructure depend on the electronics that rely on these mineral elements. Trade tensions between the United States and China over rare earths illustrate an important dynamic surrounding little-seen building blocks of our daily life.
Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. With expert knowledge and support, humanitarian workers are well placed to create a better environment for the people that they serve as well as for themselves.
The pro-coal position of Poland’s energy ministry has thrown sand into the country’s climate diplomacy as COP24 president-designate Michał Kurtyka intensifies his diplomatic tour ahead of the United Nation’s annual climate meeting later this year in Katowice.