The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement are both pioneering targets seeking inclusive development and the world’s comprehensive wellbeing. For faster, more efficient progress on these goals, it is imperative to enhance synergies and eliminate trade-offs.
Some organizations have already begun to work on this imperative. The World Resources Institute’s Climate Watch highlights areas of alignment between countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) actions and UN SDGs through its NDC-SDG Linkages Portal. Similarly, Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and Stockholm Environment Institute’s Klimalog also identify these linkages through an NDC-SDG Connections Portal. Both Climate Watch and Klimalog show that there is a varying degree of alignment between SDGs and NDC actions; some SDGs are better linked with NDC actions than others. For example, SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) has a very strong link with countries’ NDCs, while SDG 5 (Gender Equality) is relatively weakly linked.
On its mission to drive transformational climate action through sustainable development, the NDC Partnership hosts the Climate Toolbox, which provides tools and resources to support countries in strengthening and implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
Resources from the Climate Toolbox can be used to incorporate new SDG linkages or enhance existing efforts in countries’ NDCs. For example, the Climate Toolbox has more than 100 gender-related tools, of which more than 60 explicitly focus on aligning gender-focused climate actions with SDGs. These tools can enhance gender mainstreaming in NDCs and better align climate targets with SDG 5 on gender equality. Similarly, there are more than 50 jobs-related tools and 30 of these explicitly focus on aligning jobs-related climate actions with SDGs. Linkages to SDG 8, on decent work and economic growth, can be strengthened using these tools.
This blog highlights five areas of opportunity, along with specific Climate Toolbox resources, that countries can use to link their NDCs with the SDGs.
SDG 1: No Poverty
Ending poverty is the first SDG, but according to data from Climate Watch and Klimalog, it is among the least aligned with countries’ NDCs so far. The Climate Toolbox has more than 25 tools that can be used to strengthen this linkage. Since SDG 1 is closely related to other SDGs focused on jobs, economic growth, health, and food security, improving this linkage will enhance other SDGs as well. Examples from the Climate Toolbox include:
- Mainstreaming Environment and Climate for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development, developed by UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative, is an interactive handbook that establishes the links between poverty, environment, and climate change, identifying the policies and programs that can bring about better pro-poor environmental management. It is recommended as reference for integration of poverty-environment, climate, and gender objectives and the human-rights based approach into planning, budgeting, and programs.
- Gender, Poverty and Environmental Indicators on African Countries, from the African Development Bank, brings out statistical data on progress made toward the SDGs in Africa. The report also provides information on the broad development trends relating to gender, poverty, and environmental issues in the 54 African countries. This can also be used by other regions for enhancing work at the intersection of sustainability’s social and environmental dimensions.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
People’s health is a vital factor in the transformation towards sustainable development. Yet SDG 3 is among the least linked with countries’ NDC actions. There are more than 50 tools in the Climate Toolbox aimed at incorporating or enhancing NDCs’ health-related actions. More than 20 tools explicitly focus on aligning the actions with SDGs. Examples include:
- Climate Change and Health: A Tool to Estimate Health and Adaptation Costs, developed by the World Health Organization, provides step-by-step guidance on estimating (a) the costs associated with damage to health due to climate change; (b) the costs for adaptation in various sectors to protect health from climate change; and (c) the efficiency of adaptation measures. This tool can assist decision-makers in estimating the costs and benefits of taking action by providing explicit economic costs of the health impacts of climate change and the planned costs of adaptation.
- The Healthcare Energy Impact Calculator (EIC), developed by the partnership between Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm, is a free, web-based, self-serve tool to help health care facilities and other users understand how the health care industry’s use of thermal energy and electricity can affect public health. It focuses on health impacts associated with exposure to air pollution and can be used to estimate the negative public health impacts caused by fossil fuel energy use, as well as the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Adaptation Metrics: Perspectives on Measuring, Aggregating, and Comparing Adaptation Results is developed by the UNEP and the Technical University of Denmark Partnership. The tool is comprised of eleven articles that set out indicators for monitoring and evaluating adaptation within health systems that can be used to evaluate progress in reducing the burden of climate-sensitive health outcomes and increase resilience to manage likely future risks.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
There is a weak linkage among countries’ NDCs and SDG5 on gender equality. The Climate Toolbox contains 103 tools focused on strengthening NDCs’ gender dimension. Most of these tools function at the intersection of gender, jobs, education, and poverty and therefore can be applied in the context of other SDGs as well. Here are some examples:
- Gender Analysis/Assessment and Gender and Social Inclusion Action Plan Templates, developed by the Green Climate Fund, can be used to develop a gender and social inclusion action plan in climate change projects. It includes a list of questions that need to be addressed at the project planning/preparatory stage, and a template that can be used to ensure gender mainstreaming is clearly visible in design and implementation.
- Advancing Gender in the Environment: Gender and Urban Services Brief, by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), gives an overview of key gender issues related to water and sanitation, waste management, energy, and transportation. It focuses on investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment towards eradicating extreme poverty, building vibrant economies, and unlocking human potential on a transformative scale. It also includes illustrative gender strategies with corresponding examples, best practices and lessons learned from projects and activities, and gender and urban resources.
- The 2019 Water & Gender Toolkit, developed by the UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme, aims to provide a baseline for the collection of sex-disaggregated water data and help decision makers adopt data-driven, gender-transformative water policies. It takes into account the 2030 Agenda and its interconnected SDGs while incorporating lessons learned from field testing.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Issues of unsustainable economic growth and lack of employment opportunities for the growing population are at the center of many challenges countries face. While COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation, post-COVID recovery presents opportunities to rebuild greener and better. Here are some examples from the Climate Toolbox that can guide on this approach:
- Proposed Sustainability Checklist for Assessing Economic Recovery Interventions, developed by the World Bank, reflects on short- and long-term considerations by providing a list of questions for economic recovery interventions. It provides granular information on key criteria that governments may need to weigh as part of their COVID-19 recovery packages, and on the types of corollary institutional or policy changes that would be required to ensure successful delivery of each proposed intervention so that they can be accounted for ahead of time. A demonstration of how the checklist can be used is available here.
- How to Measure and Model Social and Employment Outcomes of Climate and Sustainable Development Policies, a Training Guidebook by the International Labour Organization (ILO), aims to enhance the capacity of national institutions to build country-specific green employment projection models. As a result, countries will acquire the ability to develop the statistical database, economic model, and knowledge to use their own employment projections for national development planning centered on promoting decent work.
- Exploring Youth Entrepreneurship, by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, explores the dynamics of youth entrepreneurship as a mechanism to address development challenges and achieve SDGs. It addresses issues/challenges faced by youth and provides good practice examples and recommendations to guide youth entrepreneurship.
SDG 14: Life Below Water
The Climate Toolbox contains more than 80 tools on ocean and coasts that can help countries strengthen their NDC actions related to blue carbon and marine resources. Out of these, approximately 20 explicitly focus on aligning the actions with SDGs. These include:
- The Blue Planning Training Course, developed by Blue Solutions, is a global project implemented through a partnership by GIZ, GRID-Arendal, IUCN, and UN Environment. The course introduces the theory and practical starting points of coastal and marine spatial planning. Available in five languages, the course lasts at least five days and is based on a case method, which conveys teaching messages mainly through interactive practical exercises.
- Guidelines for Blue Carbon and Nationally Determined Contributions, developed by the Blue Carbon Initiative, provides guidance on how countries may include blue carbon in their NDCs. The guidance recommends a tiered approach, similar to that employed by the IPCC guidance, to demonstrate how a variety of motivations and starting points represent viable pathways to include coastal blue carbon ecosystems in NDCs.
- A Sustainable and Equitable Blue Recovery to the COVID-19 Crisis report by the Ocean Panel at the World Resources Institute offers a timely and practical roadmap featuring five priority blue stimulus opportunities that are ripe for immediate stimulus funding investment. For policy and financial decisionmakers, the report provides ready-made solutions to unlock relief and resilience and build a fair and just sustainable ocean economy.
For additional support on linking NDCs with SDGs, we encourage users to explore the NDC Partnership’s Climate Toolbox. Users can search the Climate Toolbox by activities such as “establish institutional arrangements” or “engage stakeholders and public, including marginalized groups,” which contribute to SDGs 10, 16, and 17. For monthly updates on new tools added to the Climate Toolbox, sign up for our monthly newsletter on the NDC Partnership website.
This blog was written by Sonam Sahu and Talia Chorover of the NDC Partnership Support Unit.