G20 Leaders’ Meeting – A linchpin between the SDGs and COP21?

Beth Sargent, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development

16 Nov, 2015 | SDGs

Leaders of the G20 – an international forum of the world’s 20 major economies - are meeting in Istanbul today.

Turkey, this year’s G20 President, has said it is placing development at the heart of the agenda.

The three priority themes are strengthening the global recovery, enhancing resilience, and buttressing sustainability. Malcolm Turnbull is there as one of his first forays onto the international stage as Prime Minister.

The timing of the G20 meeting is significant - falling shortly after 192 nations signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and coming two weeks out from the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris to negotiate a new international climate change agreement.

G20 Leaders have an opportunity to demonstrate commitment and send a strong signal for international action on sustainable development and climate change.

What would this look like in terms of outcomes from the G20 Leaders Summit?

Firstly, G20 Leaders should focus on, and issue commitments around, implementation of the SDGs over the next 12 to 18 months; to set in place the building blocks for progress over the next 15 years. The G20, as a grouping of countries at differing levels of development and income, is well placed to promote the SDGs as a universal framework to be pursued by all countries.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is calling for G20 Leaders to commit to action at home and abroad through national strategies for sustainable development, aligning their international cooperation policies to the SDGs, and increasing levels of development assistance.

The SDSN is also calling on G20 Leaders to support and contribute to effective international and national architecture for pursuing the SDGs. This should involve active review processes and aligning the G20’s Development Working Group to achieving the SDGs. The G20 should review progress on the SDGs at the Leaders Summit in China next year.

Secondly, the G20 should act on the C20’s priorities, all of which would drive achievement of the SDGs and set the tone for a strong international climate change agreement at COP21 in Paris.

More than 500 representatives from civil society organisations from 50 countries, including Australia, met in Turkey in September for the C20 - to develop a shared agenda for G20 action.

The C20 is calling upon G20 Leaders to address the multi-faceted challenges facing our world today by integrating inclusive growth, gender equality, sustainability and climate change, and anti-corruption and tax justice into all aspects of its work and finding solutions that create a world economy that works for all.

When it comes to sustainability and climate change, the C20 is calling on G20 Leaders to:

  • Agree on a fair and equitable long term emission reduction and decarbonisation goal, and commit to a 100% renewable energy future by 2050;
  • Make energy efficiency and renewable energy an infrastructure investment priority;
  • Take the lead in supporting reliable, safe, sustainable and clean energy access for all by 2030;
  • Take immediate action to completely and equitably phase our fossil fuel subsidies by 2030; and
  • Significantly increase public climate finance to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and allow every country to participate in the just transition to decarbonisation.

G20 Leaders have an opportunity to act as an important linchpin between the signing of the SDGs in September and COP21 at the end of this month.  These two agendas are inextricably linked given climate change puts the achievement of each of the SDGs at risk and thus the SDGs will only be achieved with a strong international climate change agreement.

G20 Leaders can set the tone and drive action on both agendas - helping to ensure 2015 puts the world on a sustainable development course. 

  • Beth Sargent, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development
    Beth Sargent, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development

    Beth Sargent is Head of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development. Prior to this role she was ACFID’s Development Practice Advisor, working to support the effectiveness of ACFID’s members practice. Beth has worked in a variety of positions overseas, including the UK, Timor Leste and Haiti and has had significant prior experience with the state public service in Victoria. She has a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development.


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