WaterSan Perspective Reporter
April 20, 2016

The record number of countries set to sign the Paris Agreement in New York onApril 22 signals the next step towards the Agreement coming into force and a critical juncture in a global effort to ensure lasting hopes for secure and peaceful, human development.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s dictum that our generation is the first that can end poverty but the last that can act to avoid the worst climate change speaks to the fact that cutting greenhouse gas emissions in time to prevent unmanageable rises in temperature is the one assurance of keeping those hopes on track.

“More carbon in the atmosphere equals more poverty. We cannot deliver sustainable development without tackling climate change, and we cannot tackle climate change without addressing the root causes of poverty, inequality and unsustainable development patterns,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ms Figueres will moderate a debate with Segolene Royal, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and President of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN climate convention in front of an invited audience, on the margins of the General Assembly meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Thursday, April 21.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The realisation that climate change and development are solvable only when seen as inseperable is articulated in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, agreed by nations last September at the UN in New York.

Achievement of the Paris Agreement’s climate goals calls for unprecedented rates of decarbonisation. The short 15 years to 2030 will need to deliver unprecedented outcomes in terms of global well-being and poverty eradication.

Nothing less will do than a massive global transformation to clean energy, restored lands and societies pre-proofed against existing climate change.

“Key actors across government, the private sector and civil society are shaping their vision on how they can best contribute to that objective. We have a short window of opportunity to align strategies and to sharpen the focus on the urgency of implementation. Strategic approaches developed this year will shape the overall path for years to come,” said Ms Figueres.

The SDGs not only contain a distinct climate change goal (#13), but climate action is also integral to the successful implementation of most of the other SDGs under the agenda.

This works in three fundamental ways that underpin the relation between the nature of the climate change threat and aspirations for a better, safer, fairer future.

Climate and development are locked together through basic cause and effect, by the need for an unprecedented transformation to a low-carbon economy and through the demanding timetable of action necessary to stay well below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise, with 1.5 degrees identified in the Paris Agreement as an even safer line of defence.

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