The 2015 Paris Agreement has focused global attention on the need for countries to address climate change risks. But not all countries are equal, in terms of either their ambition or ability to achieve economies which are low-carbon and aligned with greenhouse gas emission trajectories which scientists say are necessary to limit warming to 2ºC. The associated transition in national energy systems and broader economies to a low-carbon world will present risks, but also opportunities.
International cooperation in support of a global energy transition is on the rise. Initiatives and fora for multilateral cooperation are complemented by growing bilateral engagement to foster international lesson-drawing and exchange. Despite these promising developments, investment towards achieving SDG7 on clean and affordable energy is insufficient. This IASS Policy Brief discusses how international cooperation can support a global energy transition.
From conflict prevention to human rights protection – companies are vital for the success of the 2030 Agenda and foreign policy alike. But progress on SDG implementation in the business world is at a turning point. Foreign policy can and must play a decisive role by building a robust knowledge base, making use of economic diplomacy tools and bringing trade and foreign direct investment in line with the SDGs.
80 per cent of the world’s poorest could be living in fragile contexts by 2030, making fragility one of the capital challenges to achieving sustainable development. Fragility is multidimensional and complex, and progress in fragile contexts is not easy. But instead of shying away from this task, the ambition of the international community must be stepped up. Foreign policy can help increase the efficacy of investments to tackle fragility.
The adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015 marked a high point for international multilateral cooperation. With its 17 goals and 169 targets, the implementation process for the SDGs may appear an essentially technocratic exercise. Yet in view of the social transformation that it seeks to bring about across key dimensions of human civilisation, SDG implementation remains a profoundly political process. Because of the intense political implications, in-depth analysis, political foresight and strategic guidance are needed. As the consequences of SDG implementation cross and transcend borders and impact international relations, foreign policy has a critical role to play.
The SDGs set out a powerful vision for a better world, but action since 2015 is not delivering that promise. Foreign policy practitioners are in a unique position to help advocate for and assist in the implementation of the SDGs. Given that the SDGs and foreign policy want to achieve the same things – stability, peace and prosperity on a healthy planet – delivering them should be seen as a litmus test for the effectiveness of foreign policy in the twenty-first century.
The foreign policy community faces a choice. It can continue to allow unacceptable levels of violence and conflict to undermine individual countries and the global order. Or it can build a new consensus that violence is a preventable epidemic. This would take seriously a growing body of evidence showing what is most likely to work to steer the world back toward global peace, resilient societies, and more sustainable prosperity.
Every change, no matter how small, can cause larger changes elsewhere. The radical socio-ecological transformation envisioned under the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires anticipating and managing trade-offs, and the diplomatic cadre will have a significant role to play in maximising synergies, mitigating adverse knock-on consequences and developing strategies for mutual benefit.
The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can prevent conflict and safeguard global stability – and, as a new study from adelphi shows, foreign policy has a critical role to play.
The challenges facing the international community are growing while the willingness to cooperate seems to be waning and unilateral action at times gets in the way of joint solutions. Foreign policy can pave the way for transformative change by actively supporting a major achievement of multilateralism: the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals have a common aim: more peace and justice worldwide. But what exactly is the role of foreign policy in the global sustainability architecture? What are the fields of engagement and tools of a new "Diplomacy for Sustainability"?