12 ways environment and development sectors can collaborate to meet the SDGs

Source:THEGUARDIAN

1 | Think of environment and development as one sector

Sectoral thinking is partly what will hinder us from meeting the sustainable development goals. The question is not how these sectors can collaborate, but how they can become increasingly intertwined to reflect the joined-up nature of the goals. A good example is the transformation from marine governance to ecosystem governance that took place in some countries when fisheries and environment ministries were reformed. Tim Daw, researcher – ecosystem services and poverty, Stockholm Resilience Centre@sthlmresilience

2 | Develop trust

Traditionally, we have often seen these two sectors as competing – with the notion that you had to sacrifice environmental quality for development. There has also been some scepticism from those within these two communities about the intentions or approaches of others. Economists have not always been welcomed in environmental circles and there is mistrust when it comes to issues that are important to so many. But we are seeing a more enlightened view. Both sides are working together and appreciating that by doing this we can achieve more than we could by working against each other. Oren Ahoobim, associate partner, Dalberg@orenahoobim@DalbergTweet

3 | Use the SDGs as a checklist

We all recognise that we need a holistic approach, so perhaps industrial projects (eg dams and mining) could use the SDGs as a design checklist to ensure they do not cause negative impacts elsewhere and are a positive force for good. We use our One Planet Living framework in this way, which could really work for the SDGs. Sue Riddlestone, CEO and co-founder, Bioregional@sueriddlestone@bioregional

4 | Create financial incentives

There are now 20 million artisanal and small-scale miners worldwide. They are responsible for about a tenth of all gold production, but they also do great environmental damage, accounting for the biggest single use of mercury that poisons land and drinking water supplies. The activity is hard to control as miners are widely dispersed, often operating illegally and in remote places. Last week, the GEF council approved a programme that will design and deploy ways in which miners in eight countries can get loans to switch from mercury. Robert Bisset, head of communications, Global Environment Facility, @robbiebisset@theGEF

5 | Support social entrepreneurs

 

We need business models where development aid and environmental grants are used to get things started, and then they need to stand on their own two feet as some sort of service or business. Social entrepreneurs are entering the development space with initiatives like this, for example, projects bringing solar power to villages in remote areas help development and address environmental issues. Sue Riddlestone

6 | Educate children about sustainability

We need all children and students to know not to support unsustainable solutions, so that when they grow up – perhaps to be engineers or designers – they will discourage solutions that are unsustainable. The rest of us need to adopt this mindset; we can’t think we can have a growing business in a failing planet. Livia Bizikova, director – SDG Knowledge Programme, IISD@LiviaBizik@IISD_news

7 | Monitor industrial developments continually

As well as the traditional tools used in environmental impact assessments, there is a key need for trustworthy oversight. A factory or mine may be designed to minimise environmental harm but unless someone is there to monitor emissions, standards might slip. This process of safeguarding and achieving the best development outcomes is set out in various documents (such as the African Development Bank’s Safeguard Policy). The key is to ensure they are implemented during and after construction as, unfortunately, when these major projects are operational, development practitioners have little or no influence. There is a key role for environmental NGOs here. Mike Webster, director, WasteAid UK@michaelgwebster@WasteAidUK

8 | Host cross-sectoral events

 

I got to know some development NGOs at the UN general assembly and during the SDG process, but now the goals are being implementing, where do we meet up? Maybe the environment and development sectors need to have opportunities to get together more often. Sue Riddlestone

 

9 | Harness natural resources

Virunga National Park authorities have acknowledged that the four million people who live outside the park will not stop entering it to cut down trees (for charcoal), hunt wildlife and graze cattle. The Virunga Alliance has helped install three hydroelectric dams that generate electricity for villages outside the park. Children can now study and women can walk with greater safety at night, and businesses are arriving in the region. The project has begun to promote better relations between the park’s rangers and the local people, while building peace, stability and hope in North Kivu province. By harnessing the natural power of the park, the authorities have made great inroads to protecting its exceptionally rich biodiversity. Alex Jones

10 | Promote context-specific technology

In the Maasai village where I live, we now have solar energy installed for lights and charging points, and a solar water pump means children have time to do homework and women can take literacy classes. We have switched to clean cook stoves, using cow dung as fuel, and are about to install proper waste treatment because the wind blows in plastics from across the Mara. We have done this at a village scale, which is now being repeated across the Maasai, while keeping all the cultural elements of pastoralism and a semi-nomadic life. The Maasai may live in a world of no money and little food, but it is a world where the best technology can help ensure the future of an important indigenous people. Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist, UN environment programme, @UNEP

11 | Tie funding to joint development and environmental outcomes

The environment and development sectors will need to build on the objectives of each other to attract critical funding. This will require them to rethink and expand their work, but will present the opportunity to leverage each other in developing a larger value proposition. We are working with The Nature Conservancy to develop an insurance product to protect reefs facing the damaging impacts of storms. While the traditional approach to reef protection has been to seek public or donor funding to support biodiversity, there is a big opportunity to increase funding to this critical natural infrastructure by layering in development objectives. The reefs provide crucial protection and tourism for the communities and businesses behind them. Adam Connaker, program associate – innovative finance, The Rockefeller Foundation@RockefellerFdn

12 | Promote the links between environment and sustainable development

Early on, development was focused solely on economic growth, which was often achieved by extracting natural capital. Now there is growing recognition that nature serves as the foundation for development over the long term because natural systems support our food production, clean our water, regulate our climate, and safeguard the Earth’s biodiversity. The SDGs do a good job of integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. Lina Barrera, senior director – international policy, Conservation International@ConservationOrg

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