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OP-ED: How will we meet the 2030 UN SDGs and stop climate change?

  • Published at 01:18 am September 12th, 2021
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Our planet is in trouble BIGSTOCK

The deadline is fast approaching, but new questions have arisen in this time of pandemic

The critical United Nations climate change Conference of Parties (COP26) is taking place in November in Glasgow, UK. Progress towards the Paris Agreement will be reviewed and new commitments will need to be made to restrict global warming to the safe limit of 1.5 degrees, now widely accepted as the level at which major environmental catastrophe can be avoided. 

Recent fires, floods, earthquakes, and other extreme environmental occurrences are testimony to just how dangerously close we are to climate tipping points in the Earth’s natural ecological balance. We are entering a race to save humanity from extinction.

How will developing nations simultaneously meet the challenges of poverty alleviation and decarbonization? This question underlies the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) which were supposed to be met by 2030. 

Although the deadline is fast approaching, many new questions have arisen. How has the recent decline in international aid funding affected our chances of achieving these goals? Has the pandemic derailed our momentum in addressing the climate crisis?

A new event, Development2030 (www.development2030.com), is being launched as a venue for the international development community to discuss and find answers to the questions around the 2030 UN SDGs. It will be launched at Brussels Expo the week after COP26, alongside the 10th anniversary of AidEx, the world’s largest gathering of professionals in the aid and humanitarian relief sector. 

In accordance with the widely accepted fact that the private sector will play a crucial role in achieving these goals and mitigating the effects of climate change, Development2030 will include a conference addressing questions around UN SDGs with keynote speakers and panellists from all sectors, ranging from relevant United Nations agencies, governments, NGOs, as well as the private sector, philanthropic foundations, and think tanks. 

There will also be an exhibition that showcases leadership initiatives in technology and innovation that support the UN SDGs. Major players from the corporate sector as well as NGOs and other actors in this space will be invited to come together and network for the first time since the pandemic, to develop new partnerships and initiatives in line with UNSDG number 17, which is all about partnerships and how we will work together to achieve the other 16 goals.

In further efforts to support the corporate sector, Development2030 will also be launching two new awards focussing on sustainability initiatives and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. The Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year Award will recognize international private businesses who are successfully delivering initiatives that are contributing to societal goals of a philanthropic or charitable nature with ethically oriented practices. 

The Sustainable Initiative of the Year Award seeks to reward the best example of a green strategy -- how working in an environmentally focussed context does not have to sacrifice economic productivity and growth. 

Development2030 will also organize a series of high-level webinars to build momentum in global discussion about the questions addressed in the event. The first webinar in this series was hosted by Montgomery Group on September 3, and moderated by Heroes for All, a New York-based NGO. 

The session discussed how Bangladesh is set to achieve the UN SDGs, and how the pandemic has impacted its progress in achieving UNSDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), UNSDG 9 (infrastructure and innovation) and UNSDG 10 (reducing inequalities) and discussed some approaches to finding solutions.

It is hoped that the Bangladesh government as well as Bangladesh NGOs will participate in Development2030 in Brussels to ensure that urgent action is taken to meet the challenges of sustainable development.

Romel Ahmed works at Montgomery Group, organizer of the AidEx and Development2030 conferences.