- Lead-organizer: Tufts Institute of the Environment
- 19:30 - 21:00
- Date: 18 Jun 2012
- Room: T-7
Reframing environmental negotiations to create opportunities
Organizing partnersTufts University - U.S.
World Health Organization
Stockholm Environment Institute U.S.
World Resources Institute - Brazil
Sustainability Challenge Foundation - the Netherlands
IntroductionFrom Burden Bearing to Opportunity Sharing: How reframing environmental negotiations can create opportunities for sustainable development
In order for the "Green Economy" strategy to achieve sustainable social and environmental pillar goals, some new approaches will be required. Three examples are provided.
1. Reframe the climate treaty as a sustainable development treaty that supplies low-carbon energy services for all rather than continuing to focus on pollution control.
2. Utilize adaptation for climate and other global change as a means towards resilient sustainable development instead of considering it as a reactive response.
3. Health is an essential input into the social pillar of sustainable development. Utilizing the health and environmental indicators from WHO can ensure that meaningful social goals are achieved in the development process.
Detailed programmeFrom Burden Bearing to Opportunity Sharing:
How reframing environmental negotiations can create opportunities for sustainable development
The Three Pillars of Sustainable Development and the Green Economy
In the last two decades, focus has been on the economic pillar of sustainable development. The repeated economic crises demonstrate that the global economy is far from sustainable. Economic globalization has expanded and lifted many out of poverty, but much more needs to be done to address the social aspects of sustainability, as well as the sustainability of our ecological system.
UNCSD argues that economic growth through a Green Economy will benefit environmental and social sustainability. Our current challenge is to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity for all within the means of the planet?s limited natural resources. We feel it is essential that the operational aspects of social development and environmental quality be explicitly addressed within the Green Economy. Specifically, social equity and human well-being, as measured by the Human Development Index and the World Health Organization?s health and environmental indicators, must be assured and ecosystems must be sustained.
Three Approaches to Sustainable Development
1. From Burden Bearing to Opportunity Sharing ? Strengthening All Three Pillars of Sustainable Development Through a Reframing of the Climate Change Negotiations
Climate change is a serious threat to all nations. So why have continuous treaty negotiations for more than two decades failed to create a viable or adequate international climate regime? The current strategy of addressing climate change misdiagnoses the issue as a pollution problem by focusing on symptoms (emissions) and not on underlying causes (unsustainable development).
In short, the wrong treaty is being negotiated. The existing and proposed climate treaties fail to meet the national interests of any party. An alternative strategy for addressing climate change is to reframe the overall approach to reflect all countries? development needs and links climate protection goals to the development structure of the treaty ? a sustainable development rather than a pollution control treaty.
The current deadlock over emissions reductions might be overcome and a mutual gains agreement reached by directing international cooperation towards promoting the provision of clean energy services for development (at all levels of income) and ensuring universal access to those services as part of an ?early action? agenda that will complement efforts to utilize forests and agriculture to reduce other Greenhouse Gases from multiple sectors. These actions allow us to go beyond sustainable development to ?restorative development.? that must actively restore degraded environmental and social systems. Examples from agriculture, forestry, fisheries and urban development will be provided.
2. Adaptation as Sustainable Development
In addition to not limiting GHG emissions, the climate negotiations have also failed to adequately address climate adaptation. Instead of viewing adaptation as a failure to address mitigation, adaptation should be viewed as an opportunity for sustainable development, and in particular to address the social sustainability issues. Many adaptation strategies are ?no-regrets,? in that they provide development benefits regardless of future climate conditions. Adaptation measures can also increase the resilience of individuals, society and ecosystems, increasing all three pillars of sustainable development.
While mitigation is primarily about access to energy services, adaptation is primarily about access and management of water. Climate change will significantly alter the hydrologic cycle. Adaptation will require managing water more efficiently and becoming more resilient to water shocks. Addressing adaptation within a sustainable development framework builds upon the linkages between physical resources, social welfare and economic wellbeing, and the dependence on water.
3. Health as a Critical Component of Sustainable Development
The work on benchmarking human needs to ensure social stability is still on the increase. Clearly human and environmental health is one of those needs. As stated by the WHO, in developing and sustaining national health policies, health systems and public health programs it is essential to identify, prevent and overcome potential threats to health, anticipating future challenges and advocating public health. Health resilience is a critical component of sustainable development helping to build the social pillar. The Health Evidence Network (HEN) and the European Environment and Health Information System (ENHIS) serve as valuable resources for health policy-making covering areas of disease prevention and control, response to public health emergencies, and environmental health. Integrating the insights from these institutions creates opportunities to expand the potential for sustainable development, and allow us to shift the discussion from burdens and blaming to sharing opportunities.
? Professor Moomaw, CIERP, The Fletcher School, Tufts University
? Laura Kuhl, PhD candidate, The Fletcher School, Tufts University
? Professor Elena Naumova, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts School of Engineering
? Social/Health Indicators, Water and Health Department, World Health Organization
? Charlie Heaps, Stockholm Environment Institute ? U.S.
? Rachel Bidderman, World Resources Institute - Brazil
? Sustainability Challenge Foundation, the Netherlands