CESI SDGs project, “Aspiration to Action,” will examine and suggest essential “means of implementation (MOI)” so that global SDGs can be put into action through active engagement with various stakeholders and partners.

 About CESI SDGS Project

Governments and stakeholders the world over are in the process of developing a new set of goals to guide global development until 2030. At the point of this writing, this process has generated a large set of potential goals matched by an even larger number of targets. The goals and targets concern many areas of critical importance to human wellbeing and ecological sustainability from access to safe drinking water and renewable energy to gender equality, quality education, economic transformation and others. If all of these goals and targets are met, the world will have made genuine progress.

Anticipating this new development agenda, the Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Initiative (CESI) is embarking on a new cross-area collaborative project on the future sustainable development goals (SDGS). The point of departure for the project is the well-known ‘implementation gap’. Many treaties and agreements exist on environment and development on paper. Unfortunately, most of them have failed to register notable results on the ground. Therefore, this CESI Flagship project on the SDGs will focus on “means of implementation (MOI)”. In so doing, it will examine both the barriers and enablers for the successful implementation of development goals and targets.

Given the fact that the international community has not yet agreed on a package of goals (and is not expected to do so before the end of 2015) the political process to decide on a new development agenda and the SDGs may surprise or even fail to deliver any concrete outputs.  Most likely, the negotiation process ahead will deliver a framework containing a number of goals and targets to guide sustainable development. In this regard, CESI aims to work with its partners and networks to contribute to a post 2015 development agenda that is not merely aspirational but also actionable.

The key is a well-conceived and coherent approach to identifying essential MOI, including barriers and potential enablers for implementation. CESI will contribute by examining aspects of MOI for water, energy, forests, cities, sustainable consumption and production, and education. The input will be provided through a series of discussion papers on these specific goal areas, as well as cross-cutting contributions on financing for development, complemented by a synthesis paper on MOI.

To be sure, future development goals will have to be put into action by a broad range of actors from governments, private sector, civil society and regular citizens. It will therefore become all the more important to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders to solicit their views, understand their priorities and harness capacities for action. Findings from this research project will also be grounded in active engagement with stakeholders and partners.

What are SDGs

The international community is currently accelerating its efforts to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a common goal for the world. On the other hand, the situation is different from when the MDGs were adopted in 2000, with a wider range of actors now involved in various development activities. The environment surrounding multilateralism is not what it used to be. Furthermore, economic and financial crises are plaguing the world, and natural disasters are making the global situation unstable. In addition, remarkable progress in emerging economies is changing the international situation. In the face of all these changes, new challenges such as climate change and renewable energy cannot be fully addressed by the MDGs, and still other issues will remain even if the MDGs are met, including a growing unemployed population, soaring food prices and widening income gaps.

Taking these changes and challenges into consideration, the United Nations’ SDGs Open Working Group (OWG) of 30 representatives was established based on the agreement at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, Rio+20 hereafter), held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and announced its final outcome document in July 2014. In this report, OWG proposed a set of SDGs: 17 goals and 169 targets, to be discussed through negotiations by the UN General Assembly beginning in September 2014, and adopted as official goals by the end of 2015. SDGs are expected to be aspirational, integrated, transformative, actionable and universal, targeting both developed and developing countries.

Various efforts have also been made in the specific areas of sustainable development, including a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015 which published its final report in June 2013, a follow-up of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014) initiated after the Johannesburg Summit in 2002, a Sustainable Energy for All initiative launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and a 10-year framework of programs on sustainable consumption and production adopted at Rio+20. These processes, including SDGs negotiations, will play a major role in setting development goals for the post-2015 world.

CESI has followed and continues to follow these key international processes on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, and the Centre provides policy recommendations from African perspectives, as well as endeavouring to promote regional efforts for sustainable development through sharing these research outcomes with concerned stakeholders such as the Government of Uganda, African Union, relevant international organisations and the research community.

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