06 July 2021, New York, USA - On July 6, United Nations Institute for Training and Research in partnership with United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and United Nations Climate Change Convention (UNCCC) hosted the launch of their e-learning course Harnessing Climate and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Synergies.
Mr. Marco Suazo, Head of UNITAR New York Office, opened the session and welcomed all partners and panelists. Mr. Suazo gave a brief overview on the ever-increasing importance of syncing climate goals with SDGs and said that one cannot be achieved without the other, which forms the crux of the e-learning course. Mr. Suazo then invited Mr. Nikhil Seth, the Executive Director of UNITAR to elaborate more on UNITAR’s position on the topic of harnessing climate and SDGs synergies.
Mr. Seth talked about the evolving nature of discussions around the topic of NDCs and SDGs and questioned the parallel track of these discussions. He emphasized that the two themes are so enmeshed that unless we focus on the synergies between climate change and SDGs, we risk diluting the political will for changing the growth trajectory to one which is lower in carbon intensity and at the same time central to achieving SDGs. He further highlighted that the pandemic has brought about a certain urgency to raise climate ambition, to leave no one behind and to accelerate progress towards the 2030 agenda. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Seth elaborated on UNITAR’s goal to bring about attitudinal change through knowledge sharing and knowledge products and welcomed public sectors participants, academic institutions, scholars, and even private sector players to take advantage of the course.
Mr. Ovais Sarmad, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary of UNCCC, spoke about the complex and interlinked challenges faced by the world due the global health crisis and expressed shock at the rate of climate deterioration despite the slowdown last year. He, however, said that there is still hope of recovery as the Paris Agreement together with the SDGs providing us a roadmap to build a more sustainable and resilient world. He emphasized that climate change is a threat multiplier with respect to all SDGs and highlighted that the e-learning course provides a fantastic opportunity to share the science, evidence and tools that enable cross cutting Climate Change and SDG actions. Mr. Sarmad concluded by saying that the course can help policy makers advocate for economies that are low carbon, sustainable and resilient to drive what can be an instrumental decade in history.
Mr. Marco Suazo invited Mr. Rodrigo Alberto Carazo, Ambassador of Costa Rica to speak about Costa Rica’s stance on the issue of climate management. Mr. Carazo stressed upon the fact that Costa Rica’s climate policies, development plans and investments undertaken to achieve the Paris Agreement goals take into consideration intrinsic connection between human rights, climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable development. He also explained how Costa Rica managed to reverse deforestation which in-tern accelerated economic growth in the country. Costa Rica, he said, is now pushing for high ambition coalition between nature and people which is key to keep the momentum going and is dedicated to building back better and recovering greener.
Mr. Amrit Bahadur Rai, Ambassador of Nepal spoke about the multifaceted nature of challenges put forward by Covid-19 and stressed that compatible and interdependent climate change and SDG solutions are the road to recovery. He emphasized that the progress towards climate change can strongly ease the path towards achieving SDGs. Mr. Rai also described different goals in Nepal’s revised National Determined Contribution (NDC) plan and urged countries to take coordinated steps and synergistic efforts towards building back/recovering sustainably.
Ms. Joan Cedano, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, emphasized that harnessing climate and SDGs synergies is not only necessary, it is also imperative and further stressed upon the fact that there will be no global recovery unless there is climate ambition including increased adaption financing for the most vulnerable countries. She mentioned how the Dominican Republic is already exploring concrete ways to address the impacts of the pandemic, climate shocks that it is always vulnerable to and the economic stress in the context of SDGs set for 2030. Ms. Cedano urged all countries to incorporate climate and SDG planning into their National Development Plans for a better and a more sustainable world.
Next, Ms. Amy Tianyi Z. from UNITAR talked about the course and its objective in detail and highlighted that the e-learning course in a toolbox that can be deployed anytime by decision makers and/or curious minds who identify and harness climate and SDG linkages. She explained that the idea behind the course was based on 4 current challenges – poverty, inequality, pandemic & climate change. Ms. Zhao guided the participants on how to locate and register for the course on UNITAR’s website, gave a quick tour of the interface and explained how to obtain a completion certificate at the end of the course. Ms. Zhao concluded by saying that the course marks the beginning of a more digitalized and a more open future and finally, thanked her team for all their work.
Last but not least, Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under Secretary General UNDESA, who was also the distinguished keynote speaker, talked about how the Paris Agreement and the SDGs provide an optimal framework for addressing some of the most pressing challenges today. He highlighted that the pandemic worsened the already off-track path for achieving SDGs by 2030 and Climate goals by 2050 and stressed that an integrated approach should strengthen synergies and alleviate tradeoffs. He further said that integrated planning, coherent policies, targeted investments to meet SDGs and climate challenges can generate significant co-benefits and speed up recovery. Mr. Liu concluded by saying UNDESA is committed to work with its partners to support stakeholders in strengthening synergies between the 2030 agenda & climate action and that the e-learning course is a perfect example of its commitment.
Mr. Marco Suazo, thanked all panelists for their wise words and appreciated participants from across the world for their support and attendance.