Linkages Update - Editor's Note #210 - 28 June 2013

 A Mid-2013 Review 

By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Manager, Knowledge Management Projects, IISD Reporting Services <lynn@iisd.org>
   

This issue of Linkages Update offers a view of many of the issues that have dominated the sustainable development agenda during the first half of 2013, and point to some of the events to look for during the second half of the year.

The Bonn Climate Change Conference brought some progress on issues under discussion in the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), as well as on the 2015 agreement and pre-2020 mitigation under the resumed session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), although work was stalled due to lack of agreement on the agenda of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). This result will add to negotiators' work load at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) later this year, in Warsaw, Poland. Meanwhile, other stories in this issue of Linkages Update indicate that political attention to climate change remains strong at the highest levels: the leaders of the G8 committed to addressing "the urgent need to reduce GHG emissions significantly by 2020 (..) with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC." This outcome highlighted a number of fora to watch in the coming year, as the G8 leaders committed to pursue ambitious and transparent climate change-related actions at both domestic and international levels under the UNFCCC and other fora through complementary actions, including in the Major Economies Forum (MEF), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Several days after the one year anniversary of the conclusion of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), UN delegates concluded negotiations on one of the institutional outcomes from that milestone conference. The consultations to define the format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF), which Rio+20 delegates called for to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), concluded on 26 June 2013. Under the adopted "hybrid" approach, meetings under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will be convened annually for a period of eight days, with a three-day ministerial segment in the ECOSOC substantive session, which will replace the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) in 2016. Meetings under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) are to be convened at the highest possible level, with Heads of State and Government, for two days every four years. Follow-up discussions and decisions will now take place during ECOSOC's annual session and in the UNGA, prior to the anticipated final session of the CSD and inaugural meeting of the HLPF in September.

This issue of Linkages Update also features a number of developments related to another Rio+20 outcome: the decision to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The fourth meeting of the Open Working Group on SDGs convened one week ago, marking a half-way point in its planned meetings. Delegates in this body will meet next in November 2013, although the Co-Chairs will produce a short progress report to be delivered to the UNGA by the end of August 2013. A number of summaries of proposals and input to this process as well as the post-2015 development agenda have also recently been announced, along with calls for further inputs. This issue of Linkages Update includes information on two such efforts: the SDGs e-Inventory and NGLS' plan to collect views on inputs to the post-2015 development agenda. And the consultations feeding into the post-2015 development agenda reached their own milestone in the last fortnight, with the final global thematic consultation addressing growth and employment in the post-2015 development agenda.

A number of other key themes for 2013 that are also highlighted in this issue of Linkages Update have included: addressing linkages between the fight against illegal trade in wildlife and efforts to address corruption and transnational organized crime; identifying how to implement the Rio+20 call for a land-degradation neutral world; and the negotiation of a forests agreement for Europe, as well as extending this agreement and one on water to other interested countries. Happy half-way point in 2013. We are looking forward to seeing how these and other themes play out for the international sustainable development agenda during the next six months.