Climate Action is enshrined in only one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but the work to stop or even reverse climate change touches nearly every goal. Hundreds of Climate Week events this week in New York City demonstrated the inextricability of the climate from sustainable global development.
At the UN General Assembly meeting, which coincides with Climate Week, Secretary General António Guterres cited a statistic that was repeated throughout the week: Only 15 percent of the 169 SDG targets are on track for completion by 2030. And many are going in reverse.
In an apparent attempt to correct the course, world leaders adopted a political declaration to accelerate their actions to meet the goals. The declaration includes commitments to finance debt relief and an SDG stimulus of at least (USD) $500 billion annually for low-income countries.
Mr. Guterres drew out six critical issues that demand attention, and each one of them converges with climate action. Here they are in conjunction with the discussions at Climate Week that bridge the climate to the SDGs.
World hunger is “a shocking stain on humanity, and an epic human rights violation,” Mr. Guterres says. “It is an indictment of every one of us that millions of people are starving in this day and age.”
Climate change exacerbates food scarcity in more ways than one, and the introduction of sustainability into global farming practices is one clear impact of climate action on SDG 2: Zero Hunger.
The energy transition is too slow, Mr. Guterres says, and experts at Climate Week discussions agree. Here are some thoughts on how to speed it up.
The benefits of digitalization are not evenly spread, Mr. Guterres says. Here, panelists at Climate Week discuss updating digital grid infrastructure and its impact on closing the digital divide.
Detouring slightly from the climate change theme, explore the digital divide further in this take on the role of digital tools in education and jobs:
Too many children and young people worldwide are victims of poor-quality education, or no education at all, Mr. Guterres says. Climate action ties into education as a subject and a means. Climate change is a core subject in schools and public education campaigns worldwide. At the same time, clean energy, and cleantech solutions for communication and digitalization are improving education and making it possible in rural and off-grid communities.
To find its role in Climate Week, look back to Climate Week Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, in early September. Education technology had an advocate.
Mr. Guterres called for decent jobs and social protection. Green economies worldwide are producing good jobs that require specialization.
The Finance track at Climate Week describes the link between work and climate:
“The shift to a low carbon economy can spark an economic boost and create millions of jobs which is more important now than ever as countries and cities work to rebuild from the global pandemic.”
And this is one discussion that connects climate to the rise of new economies and new kinds of jobs.
Mr. Guterres called out climate change as the sixth critical issue. It’s telling to note that the climate made the cut for the top six among 17 goals divided into 169 targets, 85 percent of which are off track or backsliding. There is a war on nature, Mr. Guterres says, and it should end.
See the discussions and hear from the experts at Climate Week NYC 2023. Watch The Climate Group’s playlist.