On the occasion of the first SDG Summit, September 24-25, and the UN Secretary General's Climate Action Summit, September 23, IDDRI was asked to write a briefing paper for the ENVI Commission of the European Parliament. In this paper, Elisabeth Hege and David Levai analyse the main issues at stake in these two upcoming Summits that provide a window of opportunities for SDG and climate champions to commit to concrete actions. The paper calls on the EU to seize this window of opportunity and to take up a leadership role in both dynamics.

Key Findings

  • The United Nations (UN) High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 24-25 September 2019 is a one-and-a-halfday event that for the first time since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) takes place under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (GA). This special event, called the SDG Summit, will be a litmus test for the 2030 Agenda. Ending a four-year review cycle of all 17 SDGs, the Summit will enable a first assessment of the progress achieved so far and the challenges ahead. So far, there has been a lack of political leadership and guidance at the international level. Alarming trends in the areas of climate (SDG 13), biodiversity (SDG 15), inequality (SDG 10) and hunger (SDG 2), mean that we must move beyond speeches towards concrete commitments and actions.
  • Given the deterioration of the multilateral system since 2015, the EU has a key role to play in leading by example and by forging ambitious coalitions for action. Leading by example also means advancing SDG implementation in Europe. The new Commission taking office provides a window of opportunity to finally launch an EU-wide SDG implementation strategy. To be successful, such a strategy should not be disconnected from budgetary and sectoral decisions, a risk that has been noted at the national level.
  • The day before (23rd September) the UN Secretary-General (SG) will hold a Climate Action Summit, mirroring the 2014 Summit just a year before COP21 in order to generate political momentum. While polictical leadership fails to respond to the growing anxiety around climate impacts and the popular demand for climate action, the Summit aims at strengthening global climate ambition. It intends to do so by providing a political space for countries and their leaders to step up and announce more robust and ambitious plans, as well as launching international sectoral coalitions which will give a vision of what a carbon neutral world would look like. The Summit will also serve as a key moment for mobilization of global climate activism towards more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) next year.

Read the paper