Theme and Sub-Themes
The year 2015 marks an important milestone when the UN General Assembly is expected to come up with and set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be accepted by all the countries of the world. The process for establishing the SDGs was taken in hand as a major outcome of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. It was agreed at that Conference by the Member States to launch the process for development of a set of SDGs which would build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and converge with the post-2015 global development agenda. It was decided to establish an "inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process open to all stakeholders, with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the General Assembly". Prior to this the UN Secretary General had established a High-level Panel on Global Sustainability co-chaired by Mrs. Tarja Halonen, President of Finland and Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa. This Panel completed its work and submitted its report to the UN Secretary General in January 2012.
The UN General Assembly while formulating and laying down the SDGs would be required to adhere to work done in this area in the past including Agenda 21 which came into existence in the first Rio Summit in 1992 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation agreed on in 2002. Among the requirements for setting SDGs there is an explicit need to ensure active involvement of all relevant stakeholders, as appropriate, in the process. The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit has now grown to a stature which enables the presence of world leaders, the greatest thinkers of our generation including Nobel Prize winners and leaders drawn from business, civil society and academia. The Summit which would be held in New Delhi during February 5-7, 2015, would be a unique opportunity to focus on the SDGs and provide vital inputs to the process being followed by the UN General Assembly. The benefit and value of the output on the SDGs to be produced at DSDS 2015 would be that this would be an effort totally unencumbered by official limitations and the result of deliberations involving all stakeholders and the most creative minds.
An Open Working Group has been established under the UN consisting of 30 countries tasked with recommending a new set of SDGs. This Working Group is in the process of preparing a report with its recommendations which will be submitted for consideration by the Member States of the UN. Several issues are likely to define the establishment and acceptance of the SDGs. These would involve:
- 1. Current patterns of consumption and production
- 2. Current trends in growth of demand for energy and the outlook for supply prospects
- 3. Exploitation of resources of various kinds of land as well as those in the oceans
- 4. Management of water resources for meeting the needs of present as well as future generations
- 5. Dealing with the challenge of climate change
- 6. Protection of forests and biodiversity
- 7. Dealing with hunger and malnutrition and eradicating poverty
- 8. Dealing with growing income and wealth disparities across the globe
The period just following DSDS 2015 would be one of major activity and hectic discussions for the UN General Assembly as it arrives at acceptance of these SDGs. By the time DSDS 2015 takes place there would also have been substantial progress made towards definition and agreement on these Goals. Hence, early February 2015 would present a unique and timely opportunity for mobilizing the collective intellect of the participants of DSDS in focusing on the state of development of the SDGs that would exist by then under the UN General Assembly process and to be able to provide valuable inputs by which progress could be facilitated in the ensuing period.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would have completed its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by the end of October 2014. This report would not only provide updated knowledge on the physical science basis of climate change but would also have completed its reports related to the contributions of Working Groups II and III as well as the Synthesis Report which would bring together synthesized knowledge from these three Working Group reports as well as two Special Reports on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) and Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), both completed in 2011. The Synthesis Report and its Summary for Policymakers is expected to present updated knowledge in an integrated manner which would help the world understand the nature of climate change and its impacts across the globe as well as pathways by which mitigation can be taken in hand. It would also provide knowledge and understanding on adaptation measures that would be relevant in several parts of the world. AR5 would be an important fund of knowledge to drive global negotiations towards an agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) expected to be reached in the 21st Conference of the Parties later in the year in Paris. DSDS 2015 would be a powerful opportunity to move the world towards the agreement coming as it does after the UN Secretary General’s Summit in New York on September 23, 2014. DSDS 2015 would also provide an opportune platform for creating widespread awareness on the scientific reality of climate change to facilitate an agreement being reached in Paris.