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OWG Takes Up Climate, Cities and SCP

owgmeeting10 January 2014: The seventh session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place from 6-10 January 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York, and addressed: sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and wastes); and climate change and disaster risk reduction.

On Friday afternoon, Co-Chair Csaba Kőrösi presented the Co-Chairs' summary of the session, noting that, as the OWG approaches its next phase of work, specific proposals have become sharper and more concrete. Most important, he said, is the prevailing wisdom that the issues are closely interlinked and will require a systemic approach to address them. As noted in the Co-Chair's summary, delegates recognized balanced territorial development is important since people, knowledge, income, and services flow between urban and rural areas in both directions. The summary also highlights the importance of including sustainable transportation in the SDGs. On sustainable consumption and production (SCP), delegates noted the need for decoupling resource use from economic growth using a mix of policies and life-cycle analysis. Many governments also advocated for differentiated SCP targets between developed and developing countries, and contributing to the trust fund of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on SCP. Chemicals, it was noted, are most harmful to the poor and vulnerable, and developing countries often lack the capacity to properly manage them. Governments also agreed that climate change and disasters will put development gains at risk and should be cross-cutting issues. Delegations also called to respect the negotiating role of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Finally, as the intensity of and vulnerability to disasters will only increase, delegates stressed the need to consider three dimensions of risk mitigation: prevention; reduction; and fostering resilience.

As delegates continued to grapple with the nature and structure of the SDGs, delegates also began to think about the “way forward” in the next phase of the OWG's work, for which Co-Chair Macharia Kamau reviewed options for how the OWG might work to devise a set of SDGs and their targets. The OWG will convene for its final stocktaking session in February. [IISD RS Meeting Summary]