Environment

Merging poverty and sustainable development goals

01/06/2013

The Millennium Development Goals have been a powerful tool to tackle global poverty, but they will need to be renewed in 2015. In parallel, last summer’s Rio+20 conference launched an initiative to formulate Sustainable Development Goals. The European Commission believes both processes should be merged. A recent communication sets out how this integrated approach can be achieved.

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Depletion of natural resources and ecosystem degradation are having a significantly negative impact on people’s lives as natural disasters become more frequent and intense.
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A fundamental link exists between global environmental sustainability and poverty eradication. Depletion of natural resources and ecosystem degradation are having a significantly negative impact on people’s lives as natural disasters become more frequent and intense. Since 1992, these have caused damage running to EUR 750 billion and killed 1.3 million people, with the heaviest burden falling on the world’s poorest populations.

In its communication A Decent Life For All: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future, the Commission argues that efforts to fight poverty should go hand in hand with sustainable development under a single overarching framework with common priorities and objectives. This post-2015 structure should address poverty eradication, changes in unsustainable consumption and production patterns, and protection and management of the natural resource base of economic and social development.

Principles of new global framework

The new framework could contain, for instance, goals that would act as a floor for living standards below which no person should fall by 2030 at the latest, and it could include a time frame setting out a longer term vision to 2050. It could also update existing Millennium Development Goals and act as a driver for sustainable and inclusive growth that would strengthen the transition towards an inclusive green economy. The Commission is recommending a limited number of goals that should apply to all countries, but be tailored to individual states’ abilities to meet them.

One important outcome of Rio+20 was opening the debate on funding for sustainable development. Discussions on finance for climate, biodiversity, development and sustainable development take place in different fora, even though the potential funding sources are the same. The Commission would like to see a more coherent and integrated approach to increase efficiency and avoid duplication of effort. It plans to table a report in mid-2013 setting out how this can be achieved.

Next steps

The communication has triggered debate among Member States and in the European Parliament as the European Union finalises its input to this autumn’s United Nations twin review processes on the Millennium Development and Sustainable Development Goals. The Commission is arguing that the two separate strands should be woven into one to create a post-2015 overarching framework.

 

International issues