Countries agree post-2015 UN sustainable development goals

“Urgent action to combat climate change” is part of a draft anti-poverty package gavelled through in New York on Sunday

Boosting resilience to climate change is part of poverty-busting deal (Kibae Park/UN Photo)

Boosting resilience to climate change is part of poverty-busting deal (Kibae Park/UN Photo)

By Megan Darby

Negotiators from 193 countries agreed 17 sustainable development goals for 2030 in New York on Sunday.

There were cheers as they adopted the package, which is to be rubber-stamped by ministers in September.

“This is the People’s Agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions, irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” said UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Goal number 13 is to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.

While the text recognises the UN’s climate body takes a lead on such issues, it notes that global warming risks undermining gains in tackling poverty.

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development,” says the declaration.

Under the deal, countries agreed to boost resilience to climate-related hazards like flooding and drought. They reaffirmed a commitment to mobilise US$100 billion of finance a year by 2020 to help the world’s poor green their economies and adapt to climate impacts.

And the parties “note with grave concern” the “significant gap” between projected greenhouse gas emissions and the pathway to hold warming to 2C or 1.5C.

Other goals addressed food security and women’s rights, as well as pledging to end extreme poverty – defined as living on less than US$1.25 a day – by 2030.

Environmental and development groups welcomed the agreement, seen as a critical precursor to the climate pact due to be struck in Paris this December.

“We simply cannot achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty without ambitious climate action,” said Wolfgang Jamann, chief of development charity CARE.

“This outcome document provides a stepping stone for more ambition at the upcoming climate conference.”

Nearly 90% of the economic output of those living in extreme poverty comes from natural sources such as farming and fishing, according to WWF.

“Today, the world took a big step forward on the path to living in harmony with nature,” said WWF’s Deon Nel.

“The vision of this plan is based on the reality that social and economic development can only happen if we protect critical natural resources.”

Climate change and the rights of minorities were some of the most “controversial and important” questions, said Christian Aid’s Helen Dennis, causing talks to overrun.

Some negotiators resisted the inclusion of climate change, arguing it should be left to Paris, while others wanted the goals themselves to be low-carbon and climate-resilient.

Dennis added: “We are pleased that the final text recognised the need ‘for the widest possible international cooperation’ to keep the global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees.”

The 17 goals will require between $3.3-4.5 trillion to implement, a UN report published earlier this year suggested, significantly higher than current levels of state investment, which are estimated to be $1.4 trillion.

A UN development finance summit in Addis Ababa last month ended with a commitment to increase funding flows to poorer countries, but it is not clear who will fill the $2.5 trillion shortfall.

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