Post-2015 Development Framework in the Environment Council: Will ministers fill the climate gap?

On June 18th the Environment Council will discuss the EU position towards the follow up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), currently referred to as the post-2015 development framework. This discussion aims to take further steps towards concrete contributions to the debate. It is vital that the environment ministers take this opportunity to re-iterate that environmental concerns, including climate change, are decisive factors in the success of the development agenda.

There has been broad agreement by international and EU policy-makers that it is essential to implement an integrated approach that incorporates environmental concerns, problems and solutions into sustainable development.(1) This must include tackling climate change through sound domestic and international efforts, re-enforcing the need to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and minimizing future impacts. This element has not been adequately addressed in the EU’s position.
Development pathways are at risk of falling into the usual patterns of short-term solutions to long-term problems. The progress to de-couple economic growth from environmental degradation is still static, while stalled global efforts to effectively mitigate greenhouse gas emissions expose the limited solidarity that exists within and between countries. These patterns cannot continue if sustainable development is to become a reality at the global, national and local level.

The EU recognizes the urgent need to tackle all the related negative impacts of environmental degradation, including the exacerbation of natural resources, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem destruction. However, the solutions cited – namely an inclusive and equitable green economy and the Europe 2020 strategy – are vague in nature and fail to tackle head-on the current economic and governance systems that foster inequitable and unsustainable growth patterns.

EU Environment Ministers will have seen the UN High-Level Panel Report in advance of the environment council (2); they must now take this time to fill the gaps and ensure that tackling climate change, protecting our natural environment and changing our consumption & production patterns are not just add-ons but essential criteria to a truly sustainable development framework.
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Notes
1. Cited in the HLP Report (2013) and the EC Communication ‘A decent life for all’, (2013).
2. Report released on May 30th, 2012 by the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons, http://www.un.org/sg/management/beyond2015.shtml