Mobilizing parliaments for the SDGs

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This meeting focused on mobilizing parliaments to implement the twelfth sustainable development goal (SDG 12), namely, sustainable consumption and production. In the opening remarks, Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President, acknowledged the lack of implementation of SDGs in many parliaments. Seeing this, she urged parliamentarians to review SDGs and include them in parliament discussion.

The introduction was followed by keynote speeches given by parliamentarians. Ms. Elizabeth Cabezas from Ecuador presented how SDGs were incorporated into the constitution. She highlighted balancing environmental protection with economic growth. She also touched upon social security and labor laws which guarantee domestic workers’ rights and reduces poverty. To be more specific about SDG 12, Ms. Petra Bayr, President of the Committee for Development in Austrian Parliament, emphasized that the current economic system with infinite growth is not sustainable. She called for a legal framework at the national level to reduce over-consumption. Concerning about the budget side, the third speaker Mr. Thilanga Sumanthipala from Sri Lanka applauded many countries for establishing committees to deal with SDGs. In addition, he recommended parliaments to incorporate SDG indicators in national laws to lead politicians at the local level.

During discussion session, countries focused on sustainable economy. Parliamentarian from Canada brought up the idea of circular economy to change the pattern of consumption and reduce wastes. Ms. Petra Bayr agreed with it and called it a good approach. Lastly, Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron concluded that parliamentarians should understand the value of SDGs, take accountability and strengthen institutional mechanism.

Meeting: Mobilizing parliaments for the SDGs (organized by Inter-Parliamentary Union)

Date/Location: Monday 16th July 2018; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President;

Ms. Elizabeth Cabezas, President of Ecuador’s National Assembly;

Ms. Petra Bayr, Member of Austrian Parliament and President of the Committee for Development;

Mr. Thilanga Sumanthipala, Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

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GFMD Perspective on Migration for Sustainable and Resilient Societies

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The meeting was a side-event to the annual high-level political forum on sustainable development at the United Nations headquarters. It focused on the inter-linkages between migration and sustainable development goals (SDGs). In the opening remarks, Mr. El Habib Nadir from Morocco highlighted the relevance of resolving the problem of migration for achieving SDGs. Ms. Eva Åkerman Börje from UN Special Representative for International Migration emphasized the need to put more attention on the implementation of SDGs and its relation to migration.

During the panel discussion, speakers identified several SDGs where migration plays a key role. For example, Ms. Charu Bist from UNDP underlined that the varying development level of countries drives the flow of migration. Mr. Dilip Ratha from the World Bank demonstrated the increasing number of forcibly displaced people due to climate change. Ms. Colleen Thouez from Open Society Foundations underscored the importance for cities and inter-city networks to build capacity with urban planning in order to make themselves resilient in the face of an influx of migrants.

At the end of the meeting, speakers concurred that all relevant actors are significant in the dialogue of migration and sustainable development. Particularly, Ms. Karin Goebel, Minister of German Economic Department, called for involvement of stakeholders, including national governments, UN bodies and civil society.

Meeting: GFMD Perspective on Migration for Sustainable and Resilient Societies (organized by Germany and Morocco, GFMD 2017-2018 Co-Chairs)

Date/Location: Friday 13th July 2018; 13:15-14:30; German House, 871 United Nations Plaza, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. El Habib Nadir, Secretary General, Ministry Delegate to Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs;

Ms. Eva Åkerman Börje, Senior Policy Advisor Office of the UN Special Representative for International Migration;

Ms. Charu Bist, Senior Jobs and Livelihoods Advisor, United Nations Development Programme;

Mr. Dilip Ratha, Head – KNOMAD, Lead Economist – Migration and Remittances, Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, The World Bank;

Ms. Colleen Thouez, Director, Welcoming and Integrated Societies Division, Open Society Foundations;

Mr. Julian Pfäfflin, Senior Policy Officer International Migration, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development;

Ms. Marta Foresti, Managing Director, Overseas Development institute;

Ms. Karin Goebel, Minister, Head of Economic Department, Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: striving for SDGs

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The meeting is about building smart and sustainable cities in line with SDGs. In the opening remarks, Dr. Chaesub Lee pointed out that ICT infrastructure drives innovation in all economic sectors. Also, new technology contributes to make cities safe, resilient and sustainable. For example, big data helps government improve in public services. To reach the goal of building sustainable cities, he concluded by emphasizing that diverse partnership is essential.

The introduction was followed by a panel discussion. Speakers expressed their views on technology and shared experiences from their countries in building smart cities. Dr. Chaesub Lee underscored that the aim for smart cities is not to make all cities identical. Instead, smart cities should be tailor-made with local data and city priorities based on their history, culture and physical location. Agreeing with it, Mrs. Sophia Papathanasopoulou shared the Greek government’s involvement in shaping smart cities in this regard. However, she indicated the challenge to engage all stakeholders at the first stage.

Seeing this, Ms. Kari Eik from Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER) recommended to bring in financing in the beginning. To make SDG comprehensible and attractive to private sector, she stressed the need to establish a framework for the industry. Also, Mr. Eng Bruno Peters from IBI Group emphasized the need to share data in a more meaningful way to maximize investment. Lastly, Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE, reiterated the significance of private-public partnership.

Meeting: Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: striving for SDGs (organized by Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media of Greece with ITU, UNECE and UNESCO)

Date/Location: Thursday 12th July 2018; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room E, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY.

Speakers:

H.E. Mrs Maria Theofili, Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN;

Dr. Chaesub Lee, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU;

Mr. Guilherme Canela, Counsellor of Information and Communication for MERCOSUR, UNESCO;

Mrs. Sophia Papathanasopoulou, Head of National Broadband Planning Department, General Secretariat of Telecommunications and Post, Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media, Greece;

Ms. Kari Eik, Secretary General, Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER);

Mr. Alexandre Barbosa, Head of the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society;

Mr. Eng Bruno Peters, Director, Smart Cities, Deputy Regional Director, IBI Group;

Ms. Meera Alshaikh, Project Manager, Smart Dubai;

Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary, UNECE.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Projections and visions on the advancement of sustainable development

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This meeting is about the future trend of sustainable development. Speakers shared their visions based on current statistics. Mr. Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships of International Labour Organization, names four changes, including technology, globalization, climate change, and population growth. He pointed out the inextricable link between environmental issues and employment. Seeing this, he suggested an in-depth analysis of the challenge in production models and the structural changes in economies in order to address both environmental and employment issues.

Mr. Juha Siikamaki, Chief Economist of International Union for Conservation of Nature, focused on the threat to nature posed by rapid economic growth. He argued that the main drivers of extinction are linked to agricultural expansion, over-exploitation of species and pollution. To alleviate the problem, he contended that the solution lies in the nature. He explained that using nature to conserve itself is cost-effective because, for example, it is much cheaper to mitigate greenhouse gas emission by nature. Overall, he concluded that growth in GDP has to include the added value delivered by the conservation of biodiversity.

The last speaker, Ms. Catarina Tully, Co-Founder of School of International Futures, called for a look into alternative scenarios in order to create a complex and interdependent future-thinking framework in the SDGs. She argued that policymakers need to be a lot more critical in thinking about regulation of how technologies is distributed. Also, anticipatory governance, skills and institution are required. At the end, speakers agree that policymakers have to ensure inclusive growth to deliver sustainable development.

Meeting: 2018 ECOSOC High-level Policy Dialogue “Where are we heading? Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs” – Projections and visions on the advancement of sustainable development

Date/Location: Thursday 19th July 2018; 11:45-13:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov, Vice-President of ECOSOC;

Mr. Michael Shank, Communications Director, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Urban Sustainability Directors Network;

Mr. Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships, International Labour Organization;

Mr. Juha Siikamaki, Chief Economist, International Union for Conservation of Nature;

Ms. Catarina Tully, Co-Founder, School of International Futures.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

“Where are we heading? Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs” – Trends in the global economy and international trade and finance

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This meeting is about the current trend of international trade and its influence on the future of the SDGs. In the opening remarks, Mr. Liu Zhengmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, alerted the world leaders of the future scenario. He named a few topics of concerned, including the rapid population growth in the least developed countries, the acceleration of urbanization, the limited use of renewable energy in comparison with fossil fuel and pollution in air, water and soil. He warned that acceleration of economic growth comes with environmental costs.

During the panel discussion, panelists gave their analysis of how SDG could be better implemented given current trend in global economy. Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, argued that countries need to create a framework for business to incentivize them to invest in sustainable development. Mr. Liu Zhengmin contended that UN bodies and national governments should work with academia to develop a new concept of trade. Ms. Alicia Bárcena, current Coordinator of United Nations Regional Commissions, focused on the cases in Latin American. Seeing tax evasion, she demanded to convene the private sector at the national level as a basis for sustainable development. Mr. Masamichi Kono, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD, pointed out the widening income gap and called for inclusive growth. Lastly, speakers from the World Bank, IMF and WTO acknowledged the impact of technology on economy. They argued that job creation is key to the achievement of SDGs.

Meeting: 2018 ECOSOC High-level Policy Dialogue “Where are we heading? Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs” – Trends in the global economy and international trade and finance

Date/Location: Thursday 19th July 2018; 10:00-11:45; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic;

Mr. Liu Zhengmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs;

Mr. Michael Shank, Communications Director, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance and Urban Sustainability Directors Network;

Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, UNCTAD;

Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, and current Coordinator of United Nations Regional Commissions;

Mr. Masamichi Kono, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD;

Mr. Bjorn Gillsater, Special Representative of the World Bank Group to the UN;

Mr. David Robinson, Deputy Director, African Department, International Monetary Fund;

Mr. Robert The, Chief of Section, Economic Research and Statistics, World Trade Organization.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Review of SDGs implementation: SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the meeting took place in the form of an interactive workshop on capacity building of realizing SDG 7, “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. Representatives from the IAEA shared their experiences and product when it comes to energy planning and capacity building across sectors.

Mrs Escobar first illustrated the key elements of formulating capacity building frameworks, which mainly depend on country development priorities since the focus of national policies between developing and developed countries could vary to a large extent. Universal access to energy services and renewable energy technologies are considered critical when it comes to building capacity of energy planning. At the same time, development of human resources along value chains and institutional capacities are imperative to an effective framework.

The meeting then turned to discuss details of energy planning process to achieve SDG 7. Mr Shrosphire explained how to establish a clear yet adaptable energy policy by using systemic energy planning process with clear stakeholder roles. It is vital to acknowledge technological advancements, such as electric cars and smart appliances, to facilitate long-term energy planning. For countries who consider nuclear power as an alternative energy source, a hundred-year plan is advised to be mapped in light of its complexity and plausible impact. Mrs Escobar added that principal objectives of energy planning should include information, decision-making as well as implementation. Effective communication is also needed among relevant parties. Data analysis, in addition, is crucial in energy planning to show possible consequences of decisions making and assisting policymakers to make well-informed decisions.

Meeting: High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development  – Review of SDGs implementation: SDG 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Date/Location: Conference Room 5, UNHQ NYC; 15:00-18:00; July 10th 2018

Speakers: Mr. David Shrosphire (Section Head of Planning and Economic Studies Section, Division of Planning, Information and Knowledge Management, Department of Nuclear Energy, International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]), Mrs Ilse Berdellans Escobar (Energy Systems Analyst, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Division of Planning, Information and Knowledge Management, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA)

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung

Effective tools employed by Major Groups and other Stakeholders in the 2030 Agenda implementation, follow-up and review

The meeting focused on discussing and reviewing various tools employed by organisations to implement the 2030 agenda. An array of strategies was exemplified by panellists when it comes to awareness-raising and capacity building across sectors in society.

Ms Luthra, representative of the Women’s Health and Education Center, introduced an online platform, named WHEC Global Health Line. It is an E-Platform aiming to serve health providers across the globe by providing health resources, especially for women. Mr Luthra emphasized the importance of securing inclusive societies and ensuring health well-being of individuals. She highlighted a number of features of the platform, including subject-specific gateway, internet-search-strategy and impact factor analysis.

Ms Weber, leading a few organizations from the State of Parana in Brazil, shared experiences from different aspects to implement SDG at a local level. The Institute of Social and Economic Development, for example, evaluates public policies of the state and offers feedbacks in terms of SDG alignment. However, it is challenging to obtain comprehensive datasets due to unavailability of disaggregated data by location. The Bureau of Information technology of the State of Parana showed a mobile application on SDG as a tool to make the concept of 2030 agenda available to all localities. The Parana State Urban Development mentioned the need of strengthening partnerships while the department has been financing cities through providing loans on investments of social infrastructures.

Dr. Harrington, representing CISDL, presented innovations particularly on SDG 6 and SDG 15. On achieving clean water and sanitation for all people, trans-boundary environmental impact assessments were introduced by the “Espoo Convention”. Regarding SDG 15, “Life on Land”, it is observed that there is an increase of state effort to restrict or ban poaching and related products, especially in United Kingdom and China where new laws were enacted.

Meeting: High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2018 – Effective tools employed by Major Groups and other Stakeholders in the 2030 Agenda implementation, follow-up and review

Date/Location: Conference Room 5, UNHQ NYC; 10:00-13:00; July 10th 2018

Speakers: Ms. Rosemary Olive Mbone (Abibimman Foundation), Ms. Rita Luthra (Women’s Health and Education Center), Ms. Deisi Noeli Weber (World Family Organization and UNAPMIF), Mr. William E. Kelly (World Federation of Engineering Organizations), Dr. Alexandra Harrington (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law [CISDL))

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung

Monitoring peace, evaluating institutions, building capacity: A data-driven conversation on SDG 16 and its upcoming 2019 review

The meeting aimed to explore current capacity building progress in achieving SDG 16, “Peace, justice and strong institutions”, from a data-driven perspective. It is commenced by an opening remark delivered by Mr Seth who highlighted that not only it is pivotal to preserve the essence of SDG, but it is also critical to leverage on partnerships to analyse integration between various issues so as to foster people’s engagement towards SDGs.

The representative from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Mr Tommasoli, described SDG 16 as the “enabler, or accelerator” to realize all other SDGs. The use of data is indispensable in an evidence-based analysis as well as complementing national databases. Ms Knuden-Latta then shared her experience on tracking progress towards SDG 16 through global comparable data in order to map a holistic view of the goal. She believed that it is important to identify gaps among official key performance indicators in countries. Moreover, she stated that the understanding of justice and inclusive societies are insufficient in general for nations to conduct appropriate analysis.

Followed by Ms Knuden-Latta’s presentation, Mr Murgatroyd explained the role of trust, partnerships and linkages in capturing progress by data analysis. He mentioned that data should be utilized to a larger extent when it comes to formulating policy or legal frameworks. The senior advisor of the Asia Development Alliance pointed out that little attention has been given to SDG 16 and this goal should be linked with other SDGs at a local, national and global level. Ms Lamarre illustrated a few projects underpinned by the principle of SDG 16 and financed by the UN Development Fund to empower civil societies, promote human rights, and encourage all groups to participate in democratic progress.

Meeting: High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2018 – Monitoring peace, evaluating institutions, building capacity: A data-driven conversation on SDG 16 and its upcoming 2019 review

Date/Location: Conference Room 5, UNHQ NYC; 0930-11:30; July 9th 2018

Speakers: Mr. Nikhil Seth (United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, Executive Director, UNITAR), Mr. Massimo Tommasoli (Permanent Observer to the UN, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), Ms. Ursala Knuden-Latta (Research and Policy Officer, Saferworld), Mr. Chris Murgatroyd (Policy Advisor, BPPS/ UNDP), Mr. Anselmo Lee (Senior Advisor, Asia Development Alliance), Ms Christian Lamarre (Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Democracy Fund)

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung

The Role of Technology: Implementing the New Urban Agenda to Achieve Sustainable Development

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With the advancement of technology nowadays, the role of science and innovation is increasingly valued when it comes to realizing sustainable development goals. The meeting focused specifically on SDG 11(Sustainable Cities and Communities) on implementing new urban agenda with the aid of technology.

The meeting began with a series of opening speeches delivered by distinguished guests. Mr Elefante first illustrated the significance of digital design making tools, such as information modelling, to foster innovation on building and designing cities. Dr Abu-Ghazaleh mentioned that technology acts as driver for everyday life in modern age and brings people and issues to a single community. Mr Guier provided certain examples that highlighted the importance of connecting technology to data on sustainability, including automated waste collection programs and driverless car schemes. Ms Sherif, the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Habitat, added that climate change also posed challenges in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth of cities. Dr. Lubin described the linkage between corporates, cities and sustainability by the business sustainability maturity curve.

The conference followed by two dialogue sessions conducted by different representatives. The first focuses on the emergence of technology where speakers presented various types of information technologies that are incorporated in daily lives. For example, robotics, big data and artificial intelligence. In order to achieve a unified vision on the use of technology to develop sustainable cities, panellists agreed that accountability, public will and team environment are critical elements to be facilitated. The second session concerns the Network 11 Initiative in the Arab region that outlined the challenges of operating in (post-) conflict urban context as well as difficulties in addressing the gap between humanitarian aid and development.

Meeting: United Nations Human Settlements Programme: The Role of Technology: Implementing the New Urban Agenda to Achieve Sustainable Development

Date/Location: Conference Room 2, UNHQ NYC; 10:00-13:00; June 20th 2018

Speakers: Ms Maimunah Mohd Sherif (UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Habitat)

Mr. Carl Elefante (FAIA, President, American Institute of Architects)

Mr Guy Gier (FAIA, President, American Institute of Architects of New York)

Dr. David A. Lubin (Co-Chairman and Managing Director, Constellation Research and Technology, Inc.)

Mr Michal Mlynar (Permanent Representative of Slovak Republic to the United Nations)

Professor Urs Gauchat (CSU, Dean Emeritus of the College of Architecture and Design)

Mr. John Paul Farner (Director of Technology and Civic Innovation, Microsoft)

Mr Jason Whittet (Associate Director in Innovation in Urban Data and Technology, Rockefeller Foundation)

Professor Sarah Williams (Director, Civic Data Design Lab, MIT School of Architecture and Planning)

Professor Mahesh Daas (Ed.D, DPACSA, ACSA Distinguished Professor, Dean, School of Architecture and Design, University of Kansas)

Mr. Phillip G. Bernstein (FAIA RIBA LEED APM Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer Yale School of Architecture)

Dr Talal Abu-Ghazaleh (PhD, CEO, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, Senator)

Professor Lance Jay Brown (FAIA, CSU, ACSA Distinguished Professor, CCNY Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture)

Ms Zena Ali-Ahed (Director, Regional Office for Arab States, UN-Habitat)

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung

Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects

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This high level meeting aimed to explore the current progress on combating, preventing and eradicating illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  Representatives focused on three aspects, including implementation of Programme of Action (PoA) at national level, impact of illegal weapon trade on sustainable development, as well as the importance of international collaboration.

Representatives presented national policies and strategies adopted to eliminate illegal circulation of firearms. The United States, for example, established control systems on destructions of weapons while providing assistance to other countries in terms of export control of weapons. The representative of Philippines stated that a nation-wide firearms control program was executed and assured that such program is of top priority of the government.

At the same time, Liberia described the socio-economic consequences brought by illicit trafficking of weapons, such as the emergence of civil wars around the region.  Sierra Leone further added that it is pivotal to ensure the compliance of PoA in order to achieve SDG 16, in particular the forth item, “by 2030 significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime.” South Africa and Netherlands emphasized the importance of maintaining gender equality by empowering more women to engage in addressing illicit trading of firearms.

The Republic of Korea highlighted that it is indispensable for nations to contribute to the Peacekeeping Fund with the purpose for building capacity to facilitate synergies among countries. Cuba and Ukraine echoed that international assistance should be strengthened to enhance global tracing of illegal weapon trading. Argentina suggested providing more training to personnel involved in the PoA according to different needs of nations.

Meeting: United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects: General Exchange of Views

Date/Location: Conference Room 4, UNHQ NYC; 15:00-18:00; June 18th 2018

Speakers: Ambassador Jean-Claude Brunet (President of Conference)

Representative of United States

Representative of Philippines

Representative of Nepal

Representative of Democratic Republic of Congo

Representative of Russia

Representative of Thailand

Representative of Namibia

Representative of Sierra Leone

Representative of Republic of Korea

Representative of Cuba

Representative of South Africa

Representative of Ukraine

Representative of Argentina

Representative of Netherlands

Representative of Mexico

Representative of Egypt

Representative of Brazil

Representative of Colombia

Representative of Peru

Representative of Chile

Representative of Uruguay

Written By: WIT representative, Rosalind Cheung