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The four tests Cameron needs to apply to international development

Nacoes-Unidas-preparam-Agenda-de-Desenvolvimento-pos-2015_article_full_lWith the high-level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda meeting in Bali next week, civil society organisations around the world are making their case for what should be in the new development framework.

One thing that has united environment and development groups is trying to ensure that the next set of goals help nations develop for the long term, not just until the next extreme weather event or energy crunch. Given the increasingly serious threats facing the world’s poorest, and their dependence on the natural environment for their livelihoods and survival, the new set of goals must leave developing nations better prepared to manage the risks that they face.

Working with leading environment and development groups – Christian Aid, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF – we’ve drawn up four tests for environmental resilience that would put the framework on track to deliver this, ensuring that the post-2015 goals don’t go the same way as the MDGs, where sustainable development didn’t feature strongly and the challenge of climate change was not addressed.

The task for the UK Prime Minister
Last week we were able to put these tests to Michael Anderson, the Prime Minister’s special envoy on the UN development goals, and received some assurance that long term solutions are one of David Cameron’s key priorities for the goals.

But will tests and proposals such as these get a look-in at the meeting in Bali, or in the panel’s final report? So far, the willingness of the UK government to engage on these issues has been limited. But environmental resilience is central, not tangential to the main goal of poverty eradication. It isn’t possible to eradicate poverty if developing nations continue to be poorly prepared to manage the impacts of climate change, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, ecosystem decline and resource depletion.

The need to weave environmental resilience into the new framework is clear. And the UK Prime Minister, as co-chair of the High-level Panel, can’t afford not to. With the UK’s aid budget under increasing pressure, now is the time to prove that this money is being, and will continue to be, spent effectively, supporting countries to develop sustainably in the long term, manage environmental, economic and social risks, become more resource efficient and secure and make the best use of money for development investments.

At the same time, developed nations such as the UK must take responsibility for their own resource management, for the benefit of all nations. Only by following this path will it be possible to work towards a resilient global economy and ultimately eradicate poverty for current and future generations.

The tests
We have identified these four tests to make sure the post-2015 goals support lasting, sustainable development.

1. Support environmentally resilient poverty reduction, by building national and community capacity to respond to climate impacts and natural resource constraints. This could include adapting water, energy and food systems to respond to a changing climate, increasing the flexibility and diversity of production by supporting small scale farming, or identifying and tackling underlying risk factors for development, such as rapid unplanned urbanisation or ecosystem service decline.

2. Deliver resource efficiency and security, by building good resource management and sustainable resource use into national growth models, as well as increased transparency, access and rights for local communities. Strengthening private sector reporting requirements could be one approach, encouraging positive environmental and social outcomes and driving good practice. And a shift to more sustainable resource consumption at the international level would mean a more equitable and secure supply for all.

3. Enable access to sustainable, secure, clean energy for all, through economic growth models built on low carbon, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. Developing countries have huge potential to ‘leapfrog’ to renewable energy, making sure energy access is sustainable, and growth both green and equitable. With decentralised energy systems, renewable energy could supply clinics, schools, businesses and others who need it most.

4. Reduce vulnerability to, and the impact of, disasters and, in turn, reduce the need for humanitarian aid, while protecting lives, livelihoods and economic investments. For example, with partnerships between climate scientists, local authorities and communities, disaster response systems can be developed, and by establishing cross-sector platforms for disaster risk reduction, measures of this kind can be built into infrastructure and services used by many.

Eradicating poverty through environmentally resilient development: the way forward-post 2015 is a joint paper by Green Alliance, Christian Aid, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF, produced under Green Alliance’s NGO engagement theme.

Follow Hannah Kyrke-Smith on Twitter: @hannahks1