Final Consensus Document of Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals include Good Goals and Targets for Climate and Oceans


by Magdalena A K Muir

Joint Chairs Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya and Ambassador Csaba Korosi of Hungary closed the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals  (OWG SDG) with a  consensus document in the late morning of Saturday July 19, 2014. This is the end of a long and complex process which allowed extensive stakeholder participation by both formal and informal means.

_55613134_overallwinner-coastandmarine-richardshucksmith8871-1076The final 13th Session of the OWG SDG was closed to civil society but the Chairs of the OWG SDG accepted extensive written comments from civil society, including comments that the Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC) contributed to along with the NGO’s Major Group, the Women’s Major Group, Youth Action, DIVA Fiji, Earth in Brackets, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Dawn. OceansGoal14

My thanks  to Dr Biliana Cicin-Sain and colleagues at the Global Oceans Forum which facilitated EUCC’s participation in the UN OWG SDG process, and also to the Fulbright Scholarship with the Columbia Climate Center at Earth Institute of Columbia University and the College of Earth Ocean and Environment   that supported my own participation.

132150923427363118146_1The Chairs of the OWG SDG  will report to the UN General Assembly and the level of government support will be indicated at that stage; for example, whether the outcome document is i welcomed, adopted, or merely noted The report is full of red lines that have been crossed by different governments and so it is the package which has been accepted.  The Chairs of the OWG SDG will also be following up with a more extensive report. There  s intention to go back to look at issues next year by many government and stakeholders including civil society, so the process is not closed. There will also be the discussion at the UN General Assembly.

In brief, the final goals a the end of the OWG SDG are :

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all

Goal 5:  Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 6:  Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Goal 7:  Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

Goal 8:  Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 9:  Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 10:Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable .

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Goal 15:  Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Goal 16:  Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Goal 17:  Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

The most important text from a coast and oceans perspective are goals 6 (water), 7 (energy) , 13 (climate) and 14 (oceans). In addition, it is the targets under these goals which make them substantive and relevant. The climate and oceans goals were changing throughout the process, so the final language for standalone goals for climate and oceans and the associated targets is very positive.

Ocean acidification is highlighted in the oceans goal, and also addressed more broadly in the climate goal.  Under the oceans goal, there is a requirement to minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification including enhanced scientific cooperation ( target 14.3). There is also a focus on resilience of coastal and marine ecosystems in target 14.2’s requirements to ” sustainably manage, and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience and take action for their restoration”. The unique role of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) is recognized in target 14.7: “by 2030 increase the economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.” Last, the important of the transfer of scientific knowlege, research capacities and transfer of marine technology to improve ocean health and enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity for developing countries and particularly SIDS and LDCs is recognized ( traget 14a)

There is just a few observation on goals for energy and water. The final language on energy is softer than some parties have been proposing, particularly the absence of a fixed renewable energy targets. The language on water is very broad. Some targets of particularly interest  for coasts and marine areas is the  implementation by 2030 of integrated water resources management, including transboundary cooperation (target 6.5); the restoration by 2020 of water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes, particularly as language on aquifers was previously removed (target 6.6); and the requirement by 2030 to expand international cooperation and capacity building support in developing countries for water and sanitation, including desalination, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies (target 6.a)  including  supporting and strengthening the participation of local communities (target 6.b)

Specific and relevant text from the preamble, and goals in the final report is provided below.


Introduction to the Proposal of The Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals 

8. The OWG underscored that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. It recalled that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provides that parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. It noted with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of mitigation pledges by parties in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2° C, or 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels and it reaffirmed that the ultimate objective under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

9. Planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that “Mother Earth” is a common expression in a number of countries and regions, and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. Rio+20 affirmed the conviction that in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature. It acknowledged the natural and cultural diversity of the world, and recognized that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to sustainable development.

10. Each country faces specific challenges to achieve sustainable development. The most vulnerable countries and, in particular, African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States face special challenges. Countries in situations of conflict also need special attention.


18. Sustainable Development Goals are accompanied by targets and will be further elaborated through indicators focused on measurable outcomes. They are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. They take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respect national policies and priorities. They build on the foundation laid by the MDGs, seek to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs, and respond to new challenges. These goals constitute an integrated, indivisible set of global priorities for sustainable development. Targets are defined as aspirational global targets, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. The goals and targets integrate economic, social and environmental aspects and recognize their interlinkages in achieving sustainable development in all its dimensions.


Proposed goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

6.1 by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

6.3 by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and increasing recycling and safe reuse by x% globally

6.4 by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

6.5 by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

6.6 by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

6.a by 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

6.b support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management


Proposed goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

7.1 by 2030 ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services

7.2 increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030

7.3 double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030

7.a by 2030 enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technologies, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and advanced and cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technologies

7.b by 2030 expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, particularly LDCs and SIDS


Proposed goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts *

*Acknowledging that the UNFCCC is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change .

13.1 strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

13.2 integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning

13.3 improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning

13.a implement the commitment undertaken by developed country Parties to the UNFCCC to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible

13.b Promote mechanisms for raising capacities for effective climate change related planning and management, in LDCs, including focusing on women, youth, local and marginalized communities


Proposed goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

14.1 by 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, particularly from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution

14.2 by 2020, sustainably manage, and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience and take action for their restoration, to achieve healthy and productive oceans

14.3 minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels

14.4 by 2020, effectively regulate harvesting, and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics

14.5 by 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on best available scientific information

14.6 by 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing, and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation [1]*

14.7 by 2030 increase the economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism

14.a increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacities and transfer marine technology taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs

14.b provide access of small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets

14.c ensure the full implementation of international law, as reflected in UNCLOS for states parties to it, including, where applicable, existing regional and international regimes for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by their parties


1 * taking into account ongoing WTO negotiations and WTO Doha Development Agenda and Hong Kong Ministerial Mandate


Further information:

Outcome Document – Open Working Group on SDGs

Final Compilation of Amendments to Goals and Targets by Major Groups and other stakeholder including citizen’s responses to MY World 6 priorities – OWG13

IISD Summary of the 13th Session of the UN General Assembly OWG SDG, 14 to 19th July 2014