Environment ministers and representatives from governments, international organizations, civil society and the finance sector met today to build momentum for new policies that will accelerate the transition to a more inclusive and sustainable world by supporting the 2030 Agenda.
The high-level meeting took place on the first day of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 in New York, during which more than 150 world leaders will formally adopt an ambitious new development agenda that will serve as the launch pad for global action to promote shared prosperity and well-being.
The German Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, H.E. Barbara Hendricks said, "The big challenge is to achieve, as quickly as possible, the paradigm shift to an economic development that finally respects the ecological boundaries of our planet and at the same time eliminates poverty and hunger. Only a profound transformation can shift economies worldwide onto a sustainable path, ensuring social inclusiveness and conservation of our natural resources."
The event was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of Germany and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the secretariat of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) and the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI).
The panel analyzed key policies and investment decisions needed for countries to move towards more sustainable economic growth that respects planetary boundaries and ensures equitable outcomes. It identified how to strengthen bilateral and multilateral advisory mechanisms, networks and partnerships to support countries.
Ministers noted that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require support mechanisms, such as the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) and the Poverty-Environment Initiative to transform institutions and economies through innovative integrated approaches to policy making that promote macroeconomic reform and comprehensive intersectoral collaboration.
The event saw a call for expressions of interest from countries willing to receive support from PAGE to advance their transition to a green economy for achieving the SDGs. UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, also launched "Uncovering Pathways Towards an Inclusive Green Economy: A Summary for Leaders", a synthesis report built on UNEP's earlier Green Economy work.
Mr. Steiner said, "An inclusive green economy sees growth in income and employment from investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution. This report speaks to the multiple benefits - economic, health, security, social and environmental - that such an economic model can bring to humanity.
"At today's event, we heard from countries transitioning to inclusive green economies with policies that benefit all of society and maintain the ecological foundations underpinning their economic development. These reforms work when there is collaboration across ministries and sectors. We need all hands on deck to achieve the SDGs, and the type of cooperation we see in PAGE exemplifies this type of partnership."
During the event, the European Commission Deputy Director-General Klaus Rudischhauser, reiterated the commitment of the EC to supporting countries in the achievement of the SDGs. He underlined this support by announcing an allocation of EUR 8 million to PAGE. The Commission recently also contributed EUR 8 million to the UNEP-UNDP Poverty-Environment Initiative.
Other nations also highlighted the Green Economy policies already in place, which are providing multiple benefits to their national economies.
"South Africa has already embarked on its green economy transition by putting in place innovative policies for green funding and green jobs," said South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Bomo Edna Molewa. "The country has selected a number of sectors to advance its transition to an Inclusive Green Economy, including transportation, building, energy, waste management and agriculture.
"In the renewable energy sector, South Africa is working with independent power producers and to date, 64 projects have been awarded a combined total investment of about 14 billion Rand with a generation capacity of approximately 3,922MW".
The event also saw the launch of the PAGE application package, which provides information about the application process and guidance for countries interested in becoming a PAGE partner. The document can now be downloaded from the PAGE website .
"We've heard today several examples of how countries have made successful efforts to change the course of their development path. A variety of experiences, integrated approaches and ideas has emerged. In light of such evidence and faced with multiple economic, social and ecological challenges, the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs are generating new momentum," said Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at UNDP.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 goals, has the potential to encourage more sustainable practices that can both generate economic growth and protect the environment.
SDG 8 most prominently aspires to "promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all". However, most of the SDGs recognize that only a path of economic development that respects ecological boundaries, fosters social equity and equal access to common goods, and contributes to poverty eradication is destined to succeed.
The SDGs provide a set of integrated and universally applicable goals and targets - against which the progress towards a more holistic form of wealth, towards an Inclusive Sustainable Economy and related institutional transformation in its various shapes and forms, can be measured.
The event featured German Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, H.E. Ms Barbara Hendricks; South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Bomo Edna Molewa; Norwegian Minister for Climate and the Environment, Tine Sundtoft; Deputy Director-General for Policy and Thematic Coordination, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission (EC), Klaus Rudishchhauser; Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, International Labour Organization, Gilbert Houngbo; and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner. The discussion was moderated by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).