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Synergy Conference Underscores Inextricable Links Between Climate, Sustainable Development Agendas

4 April 2019: The first-ever Climate and SDGs Synergy Conference identified action areas to advance efforts to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs, based on the recognition that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels is critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ‘Global Conference on Strengthening Synergies between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ which convened from 1-3 April 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark, examined the best ways to advance implementation of the two agendas at the global, regional and country levels, including by mobilizing action, resources and investment. The Conference provided an opportunity for peer-to-peer exchange of information and experiences, and sought to stimulate action from stakeholders.

Participants highlighted opportunities and advantages of cooperative implementation of climate action and the SDGs, including through better integration of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) into the Paris Agreement, processes to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) and voluntary national reviews (VNRs).

Participants also discussed new partnerships aimed at protecting forests and oceans, and boosting sustainable energy efforts. For example, more than 20 leaders committed to the Cool Coalition to help accelerate action on the transition to clean and efficient cooling.

DESA will help identify and promote multi-stakeholder partnerships and commitments that can contribute to the UN 2019 Climate Summit and the HLPF in September 2019.

In addition, conference attendees put forward recommendations for strengthening synergies, increasing ambition, advancing implementation action, maximizing co-benefits and stimulating multi-stakeholder partnerships. They urged scaling up and enhancing the mobilization of resources that could benefit sustainable development, ensuring effective resource use and avoiding duplication.

Addressing conference participants, Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, urged designing policies, programmes and partnerships that work in tandem to achieve synergies between the two agendas and reduce or eliminate trade-offs. He identified areas of possible convergence, such as in energy transitions to reduce emissions, which can also help eradicate poverty, create jobs, improve health and contribute to more sustainable ecosystems.

Liu stated that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will help identify and promote multi-stakeholder partnerships and commitments that can contribute to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and the “SDG Summit” in September 2019. He said DESA will establish an SDG-Climate Synergy Pavilion at the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC in Santiago, Chile, in December.

The conference also served as an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on SDG 13 (climate action), ahead of the Goal’s in-depth review by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July 2019. It was part of a series of preparatory meetings for the SDGs to be reviewed at the HLPF. In addition to SDG 13, the HLPF will review SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The outcome document from the Synergy Conference will contribute to the in-depth review of SDG 13, the outcome of which, in turn, will inform debates at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and the HLPF under UN General Assembly (UNGA) auspices, or “SDG Summit,” in September 2019.

DESA and the UNFCCC, who organized the conference, also agreed to establish a global knowledge network and platform on climate and SDG synergies to be launched prior to the HLPF. The conference was hosted by the Danish Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Energy, Utilities and Climate.