Also known as the Global Goals, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to protect the planet (ecology and environment), end poverty, and ensure that everyone enjoys peace and prosperity. SDGs is a set of 17 goals created based on the success of the Millennium Development Goals. It also includes new areas such as economic inequality, climate change, innovation, peace, sustainable consumption, justice, and other priorities. These objectives are interconnected, and the key to success on one objective will involve tackling other issues associated with another objective.
Traditionally, the development and environment sectors have always worked separately. However, in the era of SDGs and the Paris Agreement regarding climate change call for a different approach. In ratifying the so-called Paris Agreement, nations have pledged to minimize the increase in the average global temperature to lower than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.
On the other hand, the protection of the environment has been widely captured in the Sustainable Development Goals. Thus, countries can commit to creating sustainable urban communities, promote responsible consumption, and take climate action. All these measures can help fulfill the famous Cop21 Agreement.
Here are some of the ways environment and development sectors can successfully work together to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
1. Environment and development should be viewed as a single sector
Sectoral thinking is partly the issue hindering human beings from meeting the SDGs. The critical question isn’t how these two sectors can work together, but how they can be increasingly intertwined to reflect the nature goals. An excellent illustration is transforming from marine governance to the ecosystem and environment governance that took place in some nations when environment and fisheries ministries were reformed.
2. Continuous monitoring of industrial development
Just like the traditional tool used in assessing environmental impact, there is an urgent need for a trustworthy oversight. A mine or factory may be created specially to minimize emissions and other forms of environmental harm. However, unless an expert is there to monitor the emissions regularly, standards might slip.
This special process of safeguarding and attaining the best development result is set out in different documents like the ADBSP – African Development Bank’s Safeguard Policy. It’s essential to ensure that such policies are implemented during construction and after construction. Unfortunately, when these superior projects are operational, development experts have no influence. This is where environmental Non-Governmental Organizations should come in.
3. Develop trust
For centuries, most people have believed that the environmental and development sectors compete, particularly with the notion that you must sacrifice the quality of the environment to achieve a higher level of development. Besides, there has been some level of skepticism from experts within these two sectors about the plans or approaches of others.
For instance, economists have often been locked out in the circles, and there has always been mistrust when it comes to different issues that are so critical to the environment and development. What if experts in these sectors could develop trust, work together, and appreciate Mother Nature by not working against each other? Would it not be easy for us to meet the Sustainable Development Goals?
3. Make SDGs a checklist
Nearly everyone knows that a holistic approach is needed to achieve these goals. So, industrial projects such as mining and dam construction could use the Sustainable Development Goals as a design checklist to make sure their mining or construction activities don’t cause adverse effects elsewhere. That means we will be using a unique One Planet Living framework which could also work for the Sustainable Development Goals.
4. Financial incentives
Currently, there are about 20 million artisanal and small-scale mining establishment globally. Though they are responsible for approximately 10th of gold production, they do significant damage to the environment. These mines also account for the biggest use of mercury that ends up poisoning the drinking water supplies and land.
Mining activity is hard to control because most miners are widespread and some of them operate illegally in remote areas. What if governments could offer financial incentives to these miners to minimize the impact of their activities on the environment? For instance, GEF council has already approved a unique programme that will formulate and deploy unique ways in which miners in 8 nations can access loans to switch from the use of mercury.
The bottom line is, the earth is our home. Ecology and environment are a crucial part of our home, and so is the development sector. Environmental experts and development professionals must find a way to work together. This is the only way we can meet the Sustainable Development Goals.