Tuesday, August 4, 2015


If you are interested in sustainability issues, 2015 is a critically important year. Yet, I don't see much being written about this in the print or electronic media. So what is this importance of 2015?

Two important milestones are being reached in 2015. Firstly, 2015 is the end point for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and secondly, the future of the world's response to the challenge of climate change will be decided in this year. 

The MDGs were a set of ambitious quantifiable goals set by the United Nations that have been supposedly guiding the policies of governments across the world over the last 15 years. What were the goals, and where do we stand on the achievement?

The eight goals are presented in the image, pictorially. Every year, the governments across the world have reported their status of achievement of the goals to the UN and these have been compiled to produce global status reports. The drawback of the process of course is that the report relies entirely on self reporting. And yet, one can conclude that considerable progress has been made on several of the goals over the 15 year period. The process has not been totally free of controversy. Several researchers have questioned the choice of the goals itself, for example. One glaring omission has been that there was no goal associated with access to energy, which in itself would have made it easier to meet some of the goals. For example, if a community gets reliable access to energy, it allows the people to start businesses that are likely to get them out of poverty, allows access to information and knowledge that may improve the access to education, and helps the local medical facilities to upgrade to provide better health services, etc. In spite of the limitations, one cannot deny that the MDG project provided a focus for national and international efforts to solve some of the pressing problems faced by humanity at the turn of the century. 

The final reports from the countries will go to UN at the end of 2015, and a picture of how successful the project was will emerge when the reports are compiled. However, looking at the trends so far, it is believed that considerable progress is likely to be reported on almost all goals. In the meanwhile, the process of putting in place goals for post-2015 has also been underway. A set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now being contemplated by the UN. What are the SDGs? I will talk about these in a future MUSINGS, but I urge everyone to look these up!  

For now, let's talk about the second milestone being reached in 2015. We all know that climate change is a global challenge that we are facing today. The previous attempt for a global solution was the Kyoto Protocol (KP), the time period assigned to its implementation ended in 2012. However, the target of reduction in green house gas emissions was not achieved at the end of 2012, nor was a new mechanism agreed upon. So the time period of KP was extended, and by end of 2015, the governments of the world are expected to agree on a mechanism to succeed it. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet in November-December 2015 to hammer out an agreement between the nations of the world regarding how the humanity should take on the challenge of climate change in the future. A lot of political muscle flexing has been going on in public since the beginning of the year on this issue, and I am sure a lot of negotiations are going on behind the curtains. 

It is important for responsible citizens of the world to be aware of these processes. Our future depends on these, and we should pay more attention to what is happening. Furthermore, we should try and influence our respective governments to focus on the long term future of the humanity rather than the short term interests of their own political vote banks. 

Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech


    Samuchit Enviro Tech.     samuchit@samuchit.com     www.samuchit.com

No comments: