WWF and the Sustainable Development Goals

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From commitments to action - Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, United Nations Member States reached an agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to address economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced and integrated manner. This includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets, most of which have a deadline of 2030, though 21 expire in 2020 or have no explicit deadline.

There are 12 targets that integrate elements of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and fall within five SDG areas - SDG 2 (Food Security), SDG 6 (Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Consumption and Production), SDG 14 (Life in Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Alignment with existing UN agreements is an important feature of the SDGs and supports greater policy coherence and integration across UN frameworks.

Given that most of these targets will not be achieved by 2020, a clear process is required to extend efforts to 2030.  New targets must drive delivery on environment-related SDGs - without success on this front, the delivery of all the other SDGs will be threatened. 

The Road to 2030

The UN’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) meets annually to review both the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. In 2017, six goals falling under the banner of Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World were reviewed.

In 2018, the progress of five further goals was evaluated – namely:
  • Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (reviewed every year)
In 2019, the final five goals will be reviewed at the HLPF on Empowering People and ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality. A decision on the process to review the 2020 targets under the SDGs needs to take place in either the 73rd Session (2019) or the 74th Session (Sep 2020) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). 

The deadline of 21 SDG targets in 2020 represents the first real political challenge to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The decision on updating these targets ultimately lies with UN Member States meeting in the General Assembly.

At the same time, in October 2020 at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD, Parties are expected to agree on a post-2020 framework that will include a set of targets to succeed the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Preparatory work to define the new targets started in 2018.

It will be important to align the UNGA process and the CBD post-2020 targets to ensure a coordinated set of goals moving towards 2030.
© WWF-Pakistan

HLPF 2018: The actions WWF recommends governments must take

  • Adopt and enforce national guidelines for freshwater ecosystem management to protect and restore wetlands, rivers and aquifers and other natural systems that contribute to surface water and groundwater quality;
  • Combine nature-based solutions with traditional grey infrastructure to reduce costs and improve water-related risk management;
  • Recognise and explore the need for innovative financing mechanisms for the water and sanitation sectors;
  • Promote the principles of water stewardship with respect to keeping the world’s rivers pollution free;
  • Transform agricultural policy to improve productivity and efficiency in agriculture through practices that protect biodiversity and ecosystems through sustainable use of resources.

  • Promote access to clean and affordable renewable energy in developing countries (in line with the dramatic fall in the costs of wind, solar and battery technology);
  • Increase efforts to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by developing clear roadmaps and well-designed policies to achieve subsidy removal without affecting the poor;
  • Develop national energy plans/strategies that phase out coal and implement a renewable power mix (hydro, solar, wind etc.), focusing on both centralized and decentralized options addressing poverty reduction as a major focus of energy strategies;
  • Support bioenergy production that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable

  • Restore, protect and conserve nature within and beyond city boundaries, to ensure that cities can continue to rely on essential ecosystem services, including freshwater, food, and resilience against climate-related hazards and natural disasters;
  • Maximise the use of nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches by cities, in conjunction with built solutions to adapt to climate change, especially to protect the poorest and most vulnerable residents;
  • Provide technical, resource and capacity support to cities and local governments so that they can lead the development of sustainable urban environments through integrated cross-sectoral planning;
  • Create compact and connected urban areas, promote clean, renewable and efficient energy to power the built environment and urban transport, and implement efficient waste management systems;
  • Ensure that national, regional and municipal land-use planning incorporates biodiversity and ecosystem services, especially to better manage urban expansion near Protected Areas;
  • Increase access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy for cities in developing countries.

  • Promote new consumption patterns and consumer choices that are plant-based and non-petrol based;
  • Create an enabling environment for better production and consumption including strong legislative and policy frameworks that halt deforestation and conversion of natural habitats, while ensuring the proper implementation of existing and future laws;
  • Promote reform in the private sector towards more sustainable production methods and sustainable financing through supportive regulatory frameworks, policy and incentives;
  • Increase productivity and efficiency in food production through sustainable agriculture and protecting the rights and livelihoods of smallholder food producers;
  • Consider using the uptake of credible sustainability standards and certification as robust indicators for target 12.6, which urges business to adopt more sustainable practices;
  • Improve the availability of information about sustainable products and diets;
  • Establish national strategies to reduce food waste and losses, and establish a monitoring system;
  • Develop a new legally binding multilateral agreement to combat plastic pollution.

  • Integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into all policy areas and promote nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction;
  • Protect high conservation value forests to ensure survival of species and combat climate change;
  • Ensure horizontal and vertical policy coherence at all levels, including through the alignment of targets, indicators, reporting and financing mechanisms with other frameworks (e.g. when SDG 15 targets expire in 2020 it will be critical to align new ones with the new CBD global targets);
  • Promote sustainable agriculture to ensure zero hunger and resilient societies;
  • Recognise that biodiversity and its eco-services are essential to the realisation of human rights, such as the right to water;
  • Value biodiversity in providing resources and services that are essential to our health;
  • Involve indigenous and local communities in biodiversity conservation and restoration strategies to ensure their success and leave no one behind in our efforts to building resilient societies

  • Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development at all levels. This includes the application of policy coherence tools to support decision making at all levels; 
  • Integrate biodiversity and ecosystems protection into subnational, national economic and sectoral development policies;
  • Make faster progress in defining and applying alternative measures of progress beyond GDP to guide policymaking and development plans towards improved wellbeing and sustainable development;
  • Enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of public, public-private and civil society partnerships based on principles of good governance, openness, accountability, transparency, economic efficiency, and fairness and with the adequate integration of economic, social and environmental safeguards;
  • Enhance international support and mobilize resources for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national and local plans to implement the sustainable development goals in an integrated manner;
  • Enhance the transfer of environmentally sound and socially appropriate technologies and related know-how to developing countries on favourable terms.

What WWF is doing

WWF works at both a global and national level with governments, the private sector and consumers to address governance challenges affecting development and advocate for sustainable decision-making.