Perspective on global warming, sustainable development and the Paris agreements, by Alexis L. LEROY
Since the COP 21 and the signing of the Paris Agreements, global warming and sustainable development have never been put forward.
While there is no doubt that the number of signatories is history, the Paris Agreement is the result of a 43-year-old gestation.
In 1972, the publication of “Limits to Growth,” a report commissioned by the Club of Rome and prepared by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, produced for the first-time impact on the issue of sustainability.
Twenty years later, the Rio Earth Summit delivers a first consensus with the adoption of Agenda 21; a 21st century action plan outlining the areas where sustainable development is to be applied in the context of local governments.
It makes recommendations in areas as diverse as poverty, health, housing, pollution, marine, forest and mountain management, desertification, water and sanitation management, agriculture management and waste management.
All these topics that make our daily news … 27 years ago now.
Parallel to this action plan, a declaration on the environment and development is adopted. It lists 27 principles to follow in implementing Agenda 21.
In order to give substance to these compromises, the COP 1 took place in Berlin in 1995. The world is then divided between rich and poor countries, which refuse to bear the responsibility of global warming. Berlin will pave the way for Kyoto, where CO2 reduction targets will be taken two years later, alas with little success.
Twenty years later, COP 21 or the Paris Conference resulted in a new international climate agreement, applicable this time to all countries and aimed at keeping global warming below the 2 ° C threshold, in line with recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Historical by the number of participants and the strength of the commitments made, the Paris Agreement is unprecedented in the negotiations on climate change, the related threats and this in a context of sustainable development and the fight against poverty.
It is accompanied by the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the three pillars of which are Economy, Environment and Society (description in the box opposite).
Three years later, however, if multilateral rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement were finally ratified during COP 24, no short-term measures were imposed.
Despite this, the number of private actors – of any size and sector – committed to tangible sustainability goals in the short and medium term has never been more numerous.
Sustainable development, beyond the climate issue, deals with the management of resources, production methods, consumption and holistic equity. It calls into question our non-regenerative economic model, fruit of the Industrial Revolution which since 1750 exhausts all resources, human included.
A profound paradigm shift is underway in today’s organizations. Companies around the world are boldly leading the transition from a dead-end tactic “to the status quo” to transformative strategies essential for creating a flourishing and sustainable world.
Beyond the demand of consumers more and more attached to values than products, these changes respond to a desire for performance.
Given the requirements, a study conducted by Elan Edelman, a specialist in brand communication, “shows that 65% of French people choose to buy or boycott, according to their perception of the values they defend”.
In terms of performance, today’s most innovative leaders recognize that for the sake of our businesses and our world, we must implement revolutionary – not just progressive – changes in the way we live and work. Let’s go to work.
Imagine a world in which excess energy from one company would be used to heat another. Where buildings need less energy in the world and where “regenerating” commercial buildings – those that produce more energy than they use – are designed. A world in which environmentally sound products and processes would be more profitable than wasteful waste.
All these solutions exist today, fruit of daring innovations from multinational or SME, scientific research or common sense. There is a multitude of strategies that individuals and organizations can use because The Paris Agreements certainly will make history, it is up to the private sector – fully empowered – to write it down.
17 Sustainable Development Goals – United Nations.
“The SDGs came into effect in January 2016, and they will continue to guide UNDP policy and funding until 2030. As the lead UN development agency, UNDP is uniquely placed to help implement the Goals through our work in some 170 countries and territories.
Our strategic plan focuses on key areas including poverty alleviation, democratic governance and peacebuilding, climate change and disaster risk, and economic inequality. UNDP provides support to governments to integrate the SDGs into their national development plans and policies. This work is already underway, as we support many countries in accelerating progress already achieved under the Millennium Development Goals.
Our track record working across multiple goals provides us with a valuable experience and proven policy expertise to ensure we all reach the targets set out in the SDGs by 2030. But we cannot do this alone.
Achieving the SDGs requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations.”