2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Where are we?

The Future we want”. This is the name of the outcome document adopted during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012. The document described the lessons of 20 decades of development experience, through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and was also the cornerstone of a new era for sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda. Implemented in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development resulted from three years of discussions about the development we want for the next 15 years. This Agenda, containing 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), meant to be universal. Dealing with issues ranging up from sustainable cities, clean energy, climate change, to end of poverty and gender equality, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious. But they are the turning point for a global development agenda which is supposed to improve everyone’s lives.

And “after only one year, the SDGs seem to be better known than the Millennium Development Goals”, underscored Xavier Longan, from the UN SDG Action Campaign staff. A success that could be explained through the commitment of all, governments, experts, civil society and citizens, in a spirit of transparency.

In early 2017, the first UN SDGs’ report was published reviewing progress made to date, and efforts that remain to be made. Concerning SDG1, ending poverty in all its form, the goal is far from achieved. Indeed, one in eight people still live in extreme poverty. And while this rate did decrease from 26% to 13% between 2002 and 2012, many other forms of poverty impact people, mainly youth.

Furthermore, the agenda is also committed to tackle gender equality and education. The report points out that in 2013, 59 million children at primary school level were out of school. Moreover, 757 million adults across the planet were unable to read and write. Promoting gender equality takes several forms, including combatting female genital mutilation or underage marriage. Yet, it is also about encouraging women’s representation in some places where they are a minority, such as in politics or science.


Insuring sustainable development is also working on sustainable economic growth. In this regard, the SDGs aims to improve the life of the 30% of people living in urban slum-like conditions and fighting against high levels of air pollution in big cities. The biggest challenge is for the least developed countries, which still have to develop better access to energy and water. Indeed, “water stress affects more than 2 billion people around the globe, while 1.1 billion people still don’t have access to energy”, the reports alerted.

Finally, the Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for efforts to combat climate change and improve our natural environment. As the report states, “climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented effects disproportionately burden the poorest and the most vulnerable”. Through the SDGs, the world is committed to fight against this issue, as shown by the signature of the historic Paris Agreement in April 2016. The report highlights that “175 Member States promised measures to take ambitious climate action and ensure that global temperatures rise no more than 2 degrees Celsius”.


Learning from the experience of the Millennium Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a global agenda dealing with issues of our current world. Nowadays, sustainable development is not only about giving everyone the right to live in peace and dignity, it is also a vital necessity to ensure the future of humanity. Thus, if the 17 goals are so ambitious, this is because we can’t wait anymore, if we want to give the opportunity to next generations, deciding the future they want.

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UN Observance: International Women’s Day

The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. But people thinking that this is too long a period to wait can take part in International Women’s Day (IWD) and help make change happen faster. Since the early 1900’s, the IWD has been an important catalyst for driving greater change and moving closer to gender equality. This day aims to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and continues to grow from strength to strength.

External.aspxThis year, the IWD will call on society to “Be Bold For Change”. It is vital to celebrate these achievements, because awareness helps drive positive change, and to declare bold actions to accelerate progress in the gender agenda across the world. This day is a call on the masses, organizations or individuals, to help forge a better, more inclusive, and gender equal working world.

Every person can play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women. Market your support for bold actions via social media channels, using the “hand-in” visual concept. Spread the word, using the hashtag #BeBoldForChange. And mobilize yourself and your community, to participate in an event near you. Also, please have a look to the videos available on the official website, to learn more about gender inequalities.beboldforchange-4

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”, explains world-renowned feminist, journalist and political activist Gloria Steinem. In this spirit, the International Women’s Day is a call for unity, reflection and advocacy, in the face of this human rights challenge.

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And if you want to know the gender gap closing date in your country:

UN Observance: World Wildlife Day – March 3, 2017

“Given the current rate of poaching and smuggling, will future generations one day speak of elephants, rhinoceros and many other endangered species as we speak of mammoths: magnificent creatures belonging to the past?”. This statement, made by John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), during a conference in Geneva last year raised the alarm for the urgent need to take action in support of Wildlife Conservation.

World Wildlife Day aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. Implemented in 2013 during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, this observance day occurs every March 3, commemorating the signature date of the CITES treaty, which has until now been signed by 183 Member State parties.

sunset-599826_1920This year, World Wildlife Day is being celebrated under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices”. Given that almost one quarter of the World’s population is aged between 10 and 24, promoting the need for wildlife conservation to young people is paramount, as they will be the future leaders and decision makers of this world. “We have not yet succeeded in securing the future of the world’s wildlife”, John E. Scanlon explained, “But it belongs to each generation to tackle this issue”. At both the local and global level, this day is about listening to young voices, and encouraging them to be part of the next wildlife conservation initiatives. Many events will take place, gathering people, discussing a variety of topics ranging from habitat change to over-exploitation or illicit trafficking.

elephant-1540850_1920On March 3, it’s time for us all to listen to youth.   And if they can help make a change, then so can you!

Spread the word on the social media, using the hashtags #DoOneThingToday, #YoungVoices or #WorldWildlifeDay, or the materials available on the official website. You can also go outside, and visit your local zoo, museum, botanical garden, or join one of the gatherings organized on this occasion. And if you want to remain involved after this observance day, then stay informed, speak up and take action to support Wildlife Conservation!


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Primary microplastics: A global contamination we don’t see.

The way things are going now, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050”, a report from Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts. This shocking statistic comes to us while 9.5 million tons of additional plastic waste flows into the ocean every year.

The latest study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, called “Primary Microplastics in the Oceans: a Global Evaluation of Sources” is one of the first to provide data about the global impact of primary microplastics. Primary microplastics enter the oceans directly in the form of small particles, as opposed to secondary microplastics that are created through plastic waste degradation. These primary microplastics are the result of our daily life, and come from, synthetic clothes, car tyres, or cosmetic products. The report reveals that this type of plastic could be accountable for 30% of the “plastic soup” polluting the world’s oceans. And the results are astounding: The equivalent of one grocery bag per person is thrown into the ocean each week in the form of microplastics. But in North America the situation is so bad that the statistic increases to one bag every two days!

Indeed, this report can educate readers about a plastics issue which remains understudied. “The invention of plastic based on a synthetic polymer in 1907 changed our lives forever, for better and for worse”, IUCN Director General Inger Andersen argued in the report’s introduction. Indeed, the past year’s reports have tremendously challenged the advantages of plastics, stressing the numerous disadvantages for ocean sustainability, biodiversity, and human health.

clean-1223168_1280Consequently, the purpose of this report is to provide new information and to call for action on plastic pollution once again. Furthermore, this data fills a knowledge gap, representing an important reference point for policy makers, who wish to enact transformative policies and production practices. Action is needed to reduce the level of contamination in our oceans. This is particularly so, as the issue becomes a worldwide human health threat with plastic entering our food and water supplies. As it is part of our daily activities, everyone has not only the responsibility but the duty to get involved. It is up to the private sector to invest in the necessary R&D for the needed production shifts. But it also belongs to the governments to force real change by legislation and on-the-ground policies. Finally, populations could choose sustainable practices, by promoting natural fabrics rather than synthetic ones. We must act if we don’t want plastic soup in our plates.

On February 15-16, GFDD attended to the UN preparatory meeting for the Ocean Conference, a UN Conference scheduled to take place from June 5 to 9, 2017. These two preparation days were an opportunity for voluntary countries to raise awareness on different issues. Many representatives talked about plastic waste but also microplastics, which should be one of the main topics of discussion next June.


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“The world will invest more in infrastructure over the next 15 years than our entire current stock.”, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate stated in its latest report. The New Climate Economy, the flagship project of the Commission was set up in 2013 to inform governments, businesses and society on how to achieve economic prosperity and development while also addressing climate change.

Last year, the Commission decided to focus on the urgent need to invest in sustainable infrastructure. This 2016 report provides a roadmap to deliver a safe and prosperous future for ourselves and our children. In accomplishing this vision, the report highlights three main challenges: reactivating growth, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and reducing climate risk in line with the Paris Agreement.

To best tackle these challenges, the Commission has identified 4 priority actions. First of all, strengthening policy frameworks and institutional capacities, to build pipelines of viable and sustainable projects. Then, greening the financial system, and increasing financing sources. The third priority is to increase investments in clean technology R&D, reduce the cost of clean technology and enhance accessibility to more sustainable technologies. Finally, the Commission calls to collectively tackle fundamental price distortions and encourage investment and innovation.


Behind these priorities, is the certainty that there is an opportunity, to support and finance sustainable infrastructure, for climate, but also for growth. Sustainable infrastructure brings together a wide range of fields, including energy, transport, telecommunication, water and sanitation. And leading initiatives are on their way. The new Chinese five-year plan is exceeding its target of a 40-45% reduction in carbon emissions from its 2005 levels by 2020. China could go as far as achieving a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which was made possible thanks to investments ranging up to US$100 billion.

canola-fields-1911392_1920The report also highlights the differences between developed and developing countries, as developed countries look to renew their transport network, and low-income countries still need to develop their energy supply infrastructure. There are also differences in public investment as developing countries fund 60% of infrastructure, as compared to only 40% in advanced economies. This gap could be reduced thanks to Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). These partnerships will be mainly directed to urbanization, as cities gather up to 70% the global demand, but not only. The creation of the Africa Agriculture and Trade Investment Fund is one of the best examples. Created to support sustainable agriculture finance solutions in Africa, this fund aims to targets direct investments in agricultural cooperatives or commercial farms.

As supported by this report we believe that investing in sustainable infrastructure will ensure sustainable development for all. This is the key to getting as close as possible to limit global warming to a 2 Celsius degrees’ thanks to limited carbon emissions, insuring in the same time a sustainable future for the next generations,. But this also is a key to achieve the 2030 UN Agenda, by protecting people and improving their environment. Now that the roadmap is created, follow it well at pace!

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