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A student is working on solar systems in a training facility for solar technicians and energy auditors at Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya.
BMZ special feature on the UN Climate Action Summit and SDG Summit in New York City

Climate meets sustainable development

23 September and 24–25 September 2019

 

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Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

"To unleash the power of both the Paris Agreement and the SDGs, we must ensure they work together."

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and
Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Climate and sustainable development are inextricably linked

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the Paris Climate Agreement, created in 2015 an international framework for addressing global challenges. Climate change is already endangering livelihoods: around four billion people currently suffer from water shortages during at least one month per year. As fields dry up, harvests disappear. The number of people living in conditions of starvation worldwide has recently risen again to more than 800 million.

The consequences of increasing climate change directly impact people's living conditions and hit the world's poorest countries particularly hard. Without climate protection and adaptation to the changes that are no longer avoidable, sustainable development cannot happen and development gains are at risk.

On the other hand, if decisive steps are taken towards making economies climate-friendly, then enormous development progress can be made. This means that climate policy inevitably becomes development policy. Climate change directly impacts the achievement of Agenda 2030's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new tramway in Rio de Janeiro

Leaving no one behind

Only if economic and social aspects are considered, and no one is left behind, can the transformation to a climate-friendly and "climate-proofed" development succeed. The sustainable development goals also contribute significantly to counteracting the impacts of climate change and improving the prospects of the people affected. Improved access to affordable, clean energy (SDG 7), for example, reduces dependence on fossil fuels. Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) not only improve the quality of life for their inhabitants, but also contribute to climate protection and climate change adaptation.

Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is, therefore, working with its partner countries in an integrated way to help them achieve all the SDGs through climate-proof development.

Against this background, the BMZ is contributing to two milestones in climate policy and sustainable development: the UN Climate Action Summit on the 23rd of September and the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York on the 24th and 25th of September 2019.

News

Forest in a river valley

German Development Minister Gerd Müller calls for G7 rainforest protection programme

24.08.2019 – Statement by German Development Minister Gerd Müller: "Just sending tweets that the forest is burning does not help anybody. Along with China, the G7 countries are among the world's biggest carbon emitters. At the G7 summit in Elmau in 2015, leaders therefore agreed to invest, from 2020, an annual 100 billion dollars in climate action in the countries most affected by climate change. Now they urgently need to deliver on that promise. Germany will meet its commitment, providing an additional 500 million euros from 2020."

Village in the Somali region of Ethiopia where nomads have settled due to the continuing drought.

UN Sustainability Forum: jointly focusing on climate change and inequalities

16.07.2019 – In today's ministerial segment of the UN Sustainability Forum in New York, Germany called for a stronger focus on social inequalities and climate change. Dr Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Development Ministry, and Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Environment Ministry, are together representing the German government at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which convenes each year to review progress made on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 global sustainability goals.

Aerial view of the rainforest in the Amazon National Park

Minister Müller visits Brazil: "The protection of tropical forests and the climate can only be achieved through joint efforts"

07.07.2019 – On his departure, Minister Müller said, "We intend to continue and further expand our conservation projects. That is why, in my meetings with officials, I will press the Brazilian government to systematically expand efforts to fight illegal deforestation and slash-and-burn practices and ensure that the Amazon Fund we are supporting can once again function effectively. The focus of all our action needs to be on the local people living in these areas."

At the climate conference COP24 in Katowice, Germany and Morocco hand over the co-chairmanship of the NDC Partnership to the Netherlands and Costa Rica.

Germany helps developing countries and emerging economies implement climate targets

12.12.2018 – The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Environment Ministry announced at the Climate Change Conference in Katowice that Germany will be supporting the global partnership for implementing NDCs with a further 68 million euros. 48 million euros will come from the budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and 20 million from the budget of the Federal Environment Ministry.

Logo: Climate Action Summit 2019
23 September 2019

UN Climate Action Summit

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. We must act now to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, if possible 1.5 °C, and in order to make progress in adapting to the consequences of climate change.

To achieve this, however, countries must do more than just implement their current nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Even if all states achieved their NDC-target, this would still result in 3 °C of warming – with unforeseeable consequences. Therefore, states must formulate new, more ambitious plans.

The first NDC update is scheduled for 2020. To advance national commitments to the implementation and revision of the NDCs, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has invited participants to a UN Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September. The aim of the summit is to bring together heads of states and governments, along with municipalities, companies and civil society, to mobilise them to draw up and implement more ambitious NDCs.

The BMZ is contributing in various ways to the success of the climate summit, mainly in the areas of resilience and adaptation to climate change, forest protection, energy storage, climate-friendly transport, urban infrastructure, international climate financing and support for partner countries in revising their NDCs. The BMZ provides between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of Germany's annual support for emerging and developing countries in climate protection and adaptation to climate change.

  • The village of Jalpa in Khotang District in Nepal was electrified by the international energy partnership Energising Development (EnDev).
    Nepal: Cooperation in action

    Small hydropower plants improve lives in rural areas

    In Nepal, about one in five people living in rural areas has no access to electricity. Up until three years ago, the inhabitants of the community of Jalpa in the District of Khotang had to rely on kerosene and firewood for lighting.

  • Rainforest in Laos
    Laos: Cooperation in action

    Responsible use of tropical forests

    For generations, forests have served as a source of food and income for the people of Khangkao, a mountain village in the North of Laos. They provide wood for construction and for fuel, and mushrooms, roots and medicinal plants.

  • Niebe grows in the field of the Beninese farmer Tohomé Hadonou.
    Benin: cooperation in action

    "I am making the soil resilient again"

    Tohomé Hadonou is a farmer in Benin, who is proud to call 5.5 hectares of land her own. But she is no ordinary farmer. Five months ago, she and 46 other members of a women's group started attending training sessions to learn how to improve soil fertility.

  • Flooding in the Peruvian city of Piura in March 2017
    Peru: Cooperation in action

    InsuResilience Investment Fund

    In the first half of 2017, Peru experienced the worst rainfall and landslides since 1998. Public facilities, including hospitals, were flooded; homes were destroyed. Some small villages were completely cut off.

  • Kenya: A group of farmers in Kirinyaga shows the place on the riverbank where water is diverted from a river to the fields of the farmers' cooperative Mitooini.
    Kenya: cooperation in action

    Fighting water scarcity and droughts

    Kenya is severely affected by the impacts of climate change. With droughts becoming more frequent and rainfall more scarce, groundwater tables are falling. In early 2017, more than 3 million Kenyans were at risk of food insecurity. Another 500,000 people had no access to water.

The village of Jalpa in Khotang District in Nepal was electrified by the international energy partnership Energising Development (EnDev).
Nepal: Cooperation in action

Small hydropower plants improve lives in rural areas

In Nepal, about one in five people living in rural areas has no access to electricity. Up until three years ago, the inhabitants of the community of Jalpa in the District of Khotang had to rely on kerosene and firewood for lighting. They had to walk for six hours to Diktel, the closest city, to buy kerosene. One litre of kerosene cost 85 cents and was used up in a week.

Through EnDev, which is co-financed by Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden, the living conditions for the people of Jalpa have improved. In Nepal, EnDev supports, amongst other things, the construction of small hydropower plants, including in the District of Khotang.

Committee administers and operates the power station

Currently, 195 families are benefitting from the climate-friendly electricity being produced by the Lumju-Khola small hydropower station. Purna Bahadur Rai, who lives in Jalpa, pays an average of 88 cents per month for the sustainably produced electricity – and thus saves 2.80 euros a month: "It used to be very difficult, especially for women and children, because they had to spend many hours in dark and smoky places. That was harmful to their health. Now our home is no longer so sooty, and we stay healthy. We need less firewood and that preserves our forests," Rai explains and points to an LED lamp that he has installed in his house.

He heads the committee that administers and operates the power station. With a proper billing system and clear records of household consumption, the administrative committee has won the trust of the villagers. Power bills are paid through a financial cooperative. The inhabitants know the operation and maintenance costs of their hydropower plant and are able to plan ahead. Among other things, they have been able to set up a repair fund, which proved its worth following the strong earthquakes of 2015.

Electricity for more than 27,000 people

More than 27,000 people in rural areas of Nepal have, with help from EnDev, gained access to electricity through small hydropower plants. The families in Jalpa and in other communities are benefitting on multiple levels: the provision of electricity is reliable and they no longer require expensive and environmentally harmful kerosene. In addition, less wood is cut from the forests for firewood. The small hydropower plants that EnDev has supported in Nepal save an annual 673 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent produced by 132 average automobiles.

The village of Jalpa in Khotang District in Nepal was electrified by the international energy partnership Energising Development (EnDev).
Rainforest in Laos
Laos: Cooperation in action

Responsible use of tropical forests

For generations, forests have served as a source of food and income for the people of Khangkao, a mountain village in the North of Laos. They provide wood for construction and for fuel, and mushrooms, roots and medicinal plants.

Yet, more and more areas of forest in Khangkao are being slashed and burnt so that the steep slopes can be used to grow dry rice or maize. The growing international demand for maize is increasing this trend and also causing over-cultivation of large tracts of land.

Forests are not just an important basis for people’s livelihoods in villages such as Khangkao, they also play a central role in international climate protection, serving as carbon sinks and thereby lessening the impact of the global greenhouse effect.

Climate protection through forest conservation

This is where the project "Climate Protection through Avoided Deforestation” comes in: the inhabitants of Khangkao are developing a plan for the conservation of the forest and for its sustainable use. The project is intended to pave the way for results-based payments within the framework of REDD+. (REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.) The basic idea behind REDD+ is to compensate governments and local communities for avoided deforestation and to verifiably reduce emissions. In October 2015, Laos was included in the World Bank’s multilateral Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), set up for this purpose.

The goal of the project in Khangkao is to improve the economic situation of the villagers through income generated by sustainable forest management and by providing technical and financial support, so that they will no longer need to keep expanding their traditional slash-and-burn agricultural practices into secondary forest.

The villagers are closely involved in the implementation of the project. The possibilities and risks of forest use were explained to them at the outset. In a second step, they analysed the different types of forest and their uses. The project participants used the resulting findings to develop a forest management plan.

Forest management contracts between the district government and the villagers now ensure that they receive financial support in exchange for promoting forest conservation and sustainable forest-use practices. Their contributions include demarcating borders, pruning trees and taking responsibility for fire management.

The aim is to enable the regeneration of damaged forests so they can be used sustainably into the future. The project is also helping villagers to tap into alternative sources of income, e.g. through diversification, niche products and climate-friendly increases in agricultural production, and animal husbandry. The villagers receive funding and technical support from village development funds.

70 villages supported

The project is successful as the village people benefit from the changes that have been made, and international climate instruments like REDD+ are being used. This means that Khangkao will still be able to receive funds for forest conservation even after the German project has ended.

The project is promoting the long-term, sustainable development of 70 villages in two districts in northern Laos and making an important contribution to international climate protection in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

Rainforest in Laos
Niebe grows in the field of the Beninese farmer Tohomé Hadonou.
Benin: cooperation in action

"I am making the soil resilient again"

Tohomé Hadonou is a farmer in Benin, who is proud to call 5.5 hectares of land her own. But she is no ordinary farmer. Five months ago, she and 46 other members of a women's group started attending training sessions to learn how to improve soil fertility. She now understands why the yields from her fields have decreased so sharply over the last few years. Every year, she planted nothing but wild watermelons on her 1.5 hectare field. After the harvest, it was customary to set all the fields alight to burn off the harvest residue. And this is what Tohomé Hadonou used to do too. Now, there is no longer any sign of charred soil or wild watermelon on her field.

A smile spreads across the 41-year-old farmer's face when she explains what has changed: "No, I no longer burn off the fields after harvesting my crops. Now I give my soil its strength back by using new methods." Not burning the fields helps to preserve micro-organisms in the soil and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Benin – 68 per cent of which are the result of burning biomass.

Instead of wild watermelons, Hadonou now grows black-eyed peas on her field. This West African bean, also known as "cowpea", is a grain legume. It helps to fix nitrogen in the soil and provides valuable nutrients for exhausted soils. The bean is also extremely rich in proteins and contains numerous vitamins and minerals.

However, in order to rehabilitate the soils over the long term, much more needs to be done. After the harvest, Hadonou leaves the crop residues on her fields so that they can gradually decompose – producing natural compost in the process.

And she has learned a few more useful tricks: "I now plant my crop rows horizontal to the natural gradient and have built a low wall of plant remains around the field. This helps to keep the water in the soil."

Rainfall is becoming increasingly unpredictable, with rains sometimes arriving so late that some of the planted seeds dry up. That is why Tohomé Hadonou now staggers her planting, so that she runs less of a risk of losing her entire harvest. By employing these methods, and by using varieties of maize that have been adapted to climate change and have a shorter growing period, she has recently been able to increase the maize yields of her field by as much as 30 per cent compared with those of other fields.

All in all, the programme for Soil protection and rehabilitation for food security has provided additional training for almost 20,000 small farmers in Benin since it began in 2015. The aim of the programme is to restore the fields of small farmers all around the world back to fertility, so that agriculture can be intensified in ways that are sustainable and adapted to climate change.

Flooding in the Peruvian city of Piura in March 2017
Peru: Cooperation in action

InsuResilience Investment Fund

Climate change can be felt in many places, for instance in Peru. In the first half of 2017, the country experienced the worst rainfall and landslides since 1998. Public facilities, including hospitals, ​were ​flooded; homes were destroyed. Some small villages were completely cut off. The floods affected more than half a million people and killed at least 70. The long-term consequences of the disaster particularly affect small farmers and small business owners. Some of them have lost their entire livelihoods.

Most people in developing countries have no kind of insurance against the effects of floods, heavy winds and droughts. This means that such events can quickly plunge them into poverty. Every storm, every shower makes farmers fear for their crops. But in the end, who will pay for broken dykes, destroyed buildings and lost crops?

The InsuResilience Investment Fund (IIF), which was set up under German development cooperation in 2015, supports the introduction and enhancement of insurance products that can cover people against climate damage, including in Peru. It invests in local insurance companies and financial institutions, such as the local microfinance institution Caja Sullana in Peru, and provides technical expertise to assist them.

The IIF has enabled Caja Sullana to offer insurance against the consequences of floods and droughts for small farmers and small to medium-sized enterprises. Following two floods (including the flood in March 2017) and a drought, a total of 466 farmers and small business owners received 630,000 US dollars in insurance benefits. This has enabled farmers to rebuild and replant their fields, and it has enabled business owners to repair damaged buildings.

So far, the IIF has provided 54 million US dollars and technical assistance for eleven qualified insurance providers and other companies that offer climate risk insurance to poor and vulnerable households and small enterprises in developing countries. In order to enable the IIF to develop even more insurance products, the Fund was opened for private investors in mid-2017. Three private investors have since contributed 30 million US dollars. In the long run, the target is for the IIF to protect about 100 million poor and vulnerable people in developing countries through its current and future investments.

Kenya: A group of farmers in Kirinyaga shows the place on the riverbank where water is diverted from a river to the fields of the farmers' cooperative Mitooini.
Impacts of the NDCP country engagement process in Kenya

Fighting water scarcity and droughts

Kenya is severely affected by the impacts of climate change. With droughts becoming more frequent and rainfall more scarce, groundwater tables are falling. The country is heavily dependent on natural resources such as forests, which are impacted by climate change. In early 2017, more than 3 million Kenyans were at risk of food insecurity. Another 500,000 people had no access to water.

Kenya's Nationally Determined Contribution

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the consequences of climate change, Kenya has defined a number of goals in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for implementing the Paris Agreement, for instance:

  • The Kenyan government wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to a "business as usual" scenario, on condition that it receives international support in this endeavour. Emissions are to be reduced primarily by expanding the use of renewables and increasing energy efficiency.
  • In order to adapt to the consequences of climate change, Kenya is planning to make its infrastructure more resilient (energy, transport, buildings, ICT) and improve the resilience of its ecosystems.

Drafting an action plan

Kenya has been a member of the NDC Partnership since 2017. The Partnership is a global coalition of countries and institutions that are committed to mobilising technical and financial support for implementing the NDCs.

On behalf of the German Development Ministry and the German Ministry for the Environment, the NDCP Support Unit and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) are supporting Kenya in drafting a National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP). In this plan, Kenya will lay down the steps for implementing its NDC.

Under the NDCP process, various development players and non-state actors have joined forces and are supporting Kenya. They include USAID, DfID, Transparency International, the Pan-Africa Climate Justice Alliance, Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Sustainable Environmental Development Watch Network (SusWatch).

Their joint objective is to help implement Kenya's NDC quickly and effectively and gradually make it more ambitious.

Germany is also supporting Kenya's adaptation measures within the framework of bilateral cooperation activities, for instance in the energy or agricultural sectors.

Programmes and strategies for NDC implementation

Kenya's National Climate Change Action Plan stipulates, among other things, that the area covered by forest in Kenya is to be increased to 10 per cent and degraded land is to be rehabilitated. Both these steps will help to increase the resilience of ecosystems.

Further measures are aimed at tackling the problems of water scarcity and droughts. They include, for instance, increasing the efficiency of water use, building new infrastructure for water collection and storage, and improving flood protection.

Farming and distribution methods that generate lower levels of emissions and are adapted to climate change will help to enhance the productivity and resilience of the agricultural sector. In this way, the NCCAP will also help to improve food security in Kenya.

Greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by increasing the share of renewables in energy production and by developing an affordable, safe and efficient public transport system.

In supporting the implementation of the NCCAP, the NDC Partnership is playing an important part in helping Kenya tackle the challenges that may arise from climate change.

Kenya: Biogas plants convert slurry from livestock farming into energy and fertiliser.
Climate change and development

BMZ publications

In brief: Climate change and development

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average global temperature has already risen by 1°Celsius since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This can mainly be attributed to the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, which results in increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. The effect is that less sunlight is emitted back into space, causing the Earth to heat up.

In order to stop global warming, greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced, for example by using renewable energies. Climate action can limit but not reverse the climate change that is already happening. For this reason, societies must also take steps to adapt to climate change impacts.

Developing countries are particularly hard hit by climate change, but they are often not equipped to manage its effects. The BMZ therefore supports them in proactively dealing with climate change, while at the same time helping them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A nomad woman in northern Kenya scoops water from a dug hole to feed goats.

Climate change is a question of survival for humankind. The 2015 Paris Agreement is a milestone in international climate policy. With 195 signatory states, it was the first time that almost all of the world's countries committed themselves to concrete climate actions. They set themselves the goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°Celsius – and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°Celsius – as compared with pre-industrial levels and to take steps to adapt to the already unavoidable consequences of climate change.

The impacts of climate change - such as droughts, storms and floods - are already threatening to eliminate many of the development gains that have been achieved to date. That is why the Paris Agreement explicitly refers to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, acknowledging the close links between development and climate.

Hashtag of the World Climate Conference COP21 in Paris, 2015

At the heart of the Paris Agreement are the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Both industrialised and developing countries have set their own national climate targets and committed to undertake concrete measures to mitigate climate change and, in most cases, to adapt to climate change.

In order to meet the 1.5°Celsius goal, all countries must act quickly and decisively to implement their NDCs while gradually raising the ambition of their climate targets. The NDC Partnership was launched by Germany, Morocco and the World Resources Institute to support developing countries with these processes. The partnership enables countries to achieve their climate goals, increase their ambition and, at the same time, make progress towards their sustainable development objectives.

Logo: NDC Partnership
Logo: SDG Summit 2019
24–25 September 2019

UN Sustainable Development Summit

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our world treaty for the future. It provides guidance for our policies and shows us the way towards a future without poverty, with gender equality and with high-quality education for all. The Agenda is comprised of 17 goals (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs), that are to be achieved by 2030. The three dimensions of sustainable development (social, environmental and economic) must be considered equally. The 2030 Agenda is addressing the greatest challenges of our time. These include population growth, displacement and migration, urbanisation and, last but not least, climate change.

All of the world's countries are responsible for implementing the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. A robust and transparent mechanism for monitoring helps countries to measure their progress in a structured way. The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the central body overseeing the 2030 Agenda at the global level. It convenes every July for eight days in New York and promotes the necessary exchange of experiences, successes and challenges.

This year, in addition to the HLPF, the UN Sustainable Development Summit (also known as the SDG-Summit), which brings together heads of state and government in New York, will take place on the 24th and 25th of September. The agenda includes a global stocktaking of the implementation of Agenda 2030, based among other things on the results of the first Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), and a review of the HLPF format. The SDG Summit will play a crucial role in harnessing political and public momentum to implement the 2030 Agenda. The Summit will also adopt a political declaration by heads of state and government.

The Sustainable Development Goals

In brief: 2030 Agenda for sustainable development

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) monitors and reports annually on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at UN level. The HLPF is the key body for coordinating global sustainability policy and brings all states together once a year to discuss progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Within the framework of the HLPF, states present their Voluntary National Review (VNR), a status report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the respective country.

 

Participants at the preparatory conference for the Sustainability Forum 2019 in Berlin, which took place at the invitation of Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (bottom row, second from left) and Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller (bottom row, second from right).

The 2030 Agenda defines five critical areas that are crucial to its success. These five areas form the basis for sustainable development: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace und Partnership. Sustainable development can only be achieved when all five of these critical areas are brought together.

This is also reflected in the integrated approach taken towards implementing the 2030 Agenda, which looks at all five critical areas simultaneously.

Video: The 2030 Agenda explained

The 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, guide the German government's actions. Germany is implementing the 2030 Agenda in a variety of ways, not only at the international level and through its cooperation with partner countries.

Within Germany itself, the government and all ministries are involved in shaping and implementing the SDGs through the German Sustainable Development Strategy. The BMZ is responsible for several indicators and policy areas – particularly with regard to the global impacts of our actions.

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