By Lina Dabbagh, Policy Officer for CAN International

2015 was without doubt an important year, with Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement pointing the world in promising new directions, and with the adoption of the Sendai Framework and the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Agenda as additional important milestones. 2015 can also be described as a year in which landmark decisions were made in meeting rooms and conference halls. This year these landmark decisions need to gain solid footing on the ground.

In 2016 governments must show strong ownership of Agenda 2030 by aligning policies, resources and legislation in support of the SDGs, with input from and in collaboration with civil society all over the world. Climate Action is a crucial element of the SDGs and hence the climate movement must capitalize the existing synergistic effects of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement when looking at implementation, review as well as pre-2020 mitigation and adaptation action.

After the success of the international process, attention now turns to putting the SDGs – and the affordable, scalable solutions they contain – into action.  For the climate movement it is imperative to achieve integration of climate change and environmental sustainability at the national level in line with the achievements at the international level. A couple of issues need attention in order to achieve successful implementation from a climate stance of view:

1) Firstly, regarding the SDGs, because of the negotiating dynamics — which were additive without any editing process that one can discern from the outcome — there is a multiplicity, not so much of goals but of targets. Governments will start to choose which goals and targets to prioritize. This poses a risk to the achievements at the international level to show the interconnectedness of the climate and the development challenges. We cannot deliver sustainable development without tackling climate change, and we cannot tackle climate change without addressing the root causes of poverty, inequality and unsustainable development patterns. The conversation that cabinets, people and parliaments will have— the conversations about which of these areas are the most relevant to them as societies and economies will be very relevant and we have to make sure climate targets and goals do not fall of the table.

2) Secondly, to address the common challenges of climate change and sustainable development, we have to look both at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Agenda 2030. The latter agenda includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Financing for (Sustainable) Development Process (Ff(S)D). Understanding and realizing the synergies between these parallel and interlinked processes will be vital if the goals of either are to be successfully achieved. Although both processes approach their aims from different starting points, they both recognize the need to eradicate poverty, and both require a just transition towards equitable and sustainableeconomies and societies.

3) Thirdly we established fruitful engagement with Beyond2015 and other development campaigns and networks (Action2015, Major groups and others). Beyond2015 final evaluation states for instance, that: It is unanimously perceived that CAN- International brought in policy and advocacy expertise in climate change, hence the environmental dimension and membership that the traditional group of development NGOs did not have.” These partnerships helped develop a stronger, more diverse climate, social justice and development movement. We need to continue building on these relationships to achieve climate-compatible sustainable development for the benefit of all.

4) Finally, to buttress the implementation of the SDGs, a robust, effective, participatory, transparent and integrated mechanism needs to be established to follow-up on and review progress. From a climate perspective we can help to ensure that global follow-up and review is successfully anchored in climate change, that information flows from the international to the regional and to the national level, and vice versa, and that the UNFCCC and countries makes meaningful contribution to the HLPF (High-level political forum) in the review of SDG13.

In conclusion, there is plenty to do to achieve climate compatible-sustainable development, and the next couple of months are crucial. The implementation process of the SDGs is a train we cannot miss.

Lina Dabbagh

Policy Officer for CAN International

Lina Dabbagh works since 2014 as Policy Officer for Climate Action Network International. Lina has worked on international climate change policy and sustainable development for the past seven years. Lina holds a master’s degree in Regional Science of Latin America and Politics from the University of Cologne, Germany. After her studies, she went to Mexico where she earned a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and where she works and lives since then.