2 March 2023

Beirut time

Regional Consultation

SDG implementation amid the triple planetary crisis

AFSD prep meeting
  • UN House, Beirut, Lebanon
Contact information

In preparation for the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2023, ESCWA, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for West Asia and the League of Arab States, is organizing a regional consultative meeting on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under review at the 2023 High-Level Political Forum: SDGs 6, 7, 9, 11 and 17.

The meeting is titled “Solutions and Action for SDG implementation amid the triple planetary crisis”. The triple planetary crisis refers to climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

The objectives of the meeting are to:

  • Discuss actions and solutions to address environmental challenges and vulnerabilities affecting the achievement of the SDGs
  • Provide a platform for regional cooperation and partnerships to advance implementation of SDGs amid the triple planetary crisis 
  • Present national initiatives that can be scaled up for regional implementation.

Outcome document

The Consultative Meeting on the Environmental Dimension of the Sustainable Development Agenda entitled “Solutions and Action for SDGs implementation amid the triple planetary crisis” was held at the UN House on 2 March 2023. It was attended by more than 50 participants from 14 Arab countries, including representatives of governments, academic institutions, regional and international organizations, civil society organizations and representatives of the private sector.

Key messages and recommendations that resulted from the meeting can be found here.

This session started with opening remarks and introductory presentations provided by the meeting’s organizers (the League of Arab States, ESCWA, and UNEP), in addition to a review of the meeting’s objectives and agenda.

In his opening statement, the representative of the League of Arab States noted the importance of such regional events to discuss environmental priorities of the Arab region and to come up with key recommendations that can contribute to addressing these priorities. He also referred to the existing linkages between the sustainable development goals, and between the available solutions to accelerate their implementation.

UNEP’s representative highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in accelerating the sustainable development goals in the Arab region and in addressing the transboundary triple environmental crises.

In her speech, ESCWA representative urged participants to share successful national solutions and experiences to come up with recommendations that consider the specificity of the region in addressing environmental priorities.

Additionally, ESCWA linked regional environmental challenges to SDGs implementation in an introductory presentation and provided an insight on key policies to accelerate the achievement of these goals in the region. UNEP’s introductory presentation reviewed the impact of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution at the global and regional levels. UNEP’s role and proposed solutions to respond to these environmental crises were also presented.

Experts and countries representatives highlighted the need for an integrated approach to achieve SDG6 and SDG7 through proper coordination mechanisms between the water, food and energy sectors, and between relevant ministries and stakeholders, and through adequate data to measure the interdependency between sectors.

Proposed recommendation included the adoption of innovative technologies and a circularity approach to reuse wasted materials from one sector as an input into another sector.

For the water sector, the need to focus first on establishing water policies based on an adequate demand management before moving to addressing water scarcity issues was highlighted. In the energy sector, supporting renewable energy production was emphasized, while considering the biodiversity conservation in the planning process. This can be achieved through research, capacity-building and private sector engagement. The role of decentralized renewable energy in rural areas in empowering women and contributing to energy security was also discussed.

Finally, engaging the civil society, increasing touristic environmental awareness, and providing support to the environmental police were highlighted as contributors to biodiversity conservation in fragile aquatic ecosystems such as the Marshes in Iraq.

Presentations of national experience during this session focused on needed measures to enhance the sustainability and resilience of cities in the Arab region. Discussions highlighted the lack of data related to urban environmental indicators as a main challenge hindering the assessment of cities’ sustainability. Discussions also noted the importance of establishing urban observatories in Arab cities to measure these indicators, and to develop local voluntary reports that are aligned with the national report. These local reports would contribute to the integration of SDGs in local policies, strategies and programs and to the development of partnerships between sectors to accelerate the implementation of these goals.

Discussions also highlighted the role of remote sensing and satellite imagery in making decisions that support early warning systems and urban risks prevention.

An example of new mechanisms to support cities in quick recovery during and post disaster is “prediction-based financing” to ensure that humanitarian support reaches everyone timely, especially the most vulnerable groups. The importance of linking the urban sector with community activity and urban planning, was also discussed, as well as the need to linking urban laws with environmental laws. Strengthening regional preparations and developing adequate plans to address earthquakes’ repercussions were also noted as a need for sustainable and resilient cities.

During this session, the need for resilient urban infrastructure and institutions was also highlighted to enhance cooperation and coordination between partners (public, private and civil sectors) and to adopt a systemic cross-sectoral action through an effective and transparent governance.

During this session, representatives of countries in conflict, under occupation or in early recovery discussed the impact of fragility and conflicts on progress in SDGs implementation was discussed. The central question was how sustainability is hindered by instability. Recommendations proposed the need for solutions based on cooperation frameworks, inclusive effective governance, and on rebuilding institutions and investing in people and youth.

Discussions covered the need to integrate the environmental dimension into the recovery and reconstruction plans to guarantee urban and rural areas sustainability. The need to rely on small projects implemented at the local level was proposed as a recommendation to halt the livelihoods deterioration that lead to environment degradation in fragile contexts.

In addition, solutions and actions to minimize the effects of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss in conflict and post-conflict situations were also presented. They include: sites rehabilitation, supporting fragile communities to limit depletion of natural resources, preserving genetic resources and introducing local plant and animal species into breeding programs, conducting post-conflict pollution impact assessments, providing tracking tools to monitor and model damage, and focusing on shared water resources.

Discussions also highlighted the need to distinguish the situation of occupation from other conflict  or fragile situations, given its specificity. Among the challenges facing the State of Palestine under occupation is the lack of international support, the difficulty of accessing climate finance funds, and the limited control of the State over natural resources and biodiversity areas, which complicates the implementation of strategies and plans.

This session started with a presentation by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on their experience in reducing the environmental impact of industries and shifting to a circular economy. Bahrain, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia also shared their efforts in greening their industries and the role it plays in the transition towards a circular economy. Discussions addressed the need to support the public sector to develop policies and regulations related to greening industries and to facilitate their access to needed financing for implementation. In addition, the need to support the capacities of service providers, startups and entrepreneurs was also highlighted.

Recommendations also included the need to enhance the adoption of environmental impact assessments for industries and the development of legislations that guarantee good governance and accountability, ensure monitoring and auditing, and involve the citizens in violations monitoring. Participants also highlighted the need to link the access of industries to finance to meeting environment standards. Standardize measurement methodologies and marketing criteria across Arab states for products having an environmental impact was also raised during the discussion.

In conclusion, key messages and recommendations that emerged from the meeting were reviewed and included general regional messages to accelerate the implementation of SDGs 6, 7, 9, and 11, in addition to specific messages to accelerate specifically each of these goals in addition to Goal 17. They can be found here.


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