Everything is interconnected and interdependent. Improvements in health, education, our environment and climate, trade and investment, and conditions of employment will all in one way or another contribute to improved development and well-being. For this reason, Inter-agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDG) selected a very wide-ranging indicator, the
Proportion of government recurrent and capital spending to sectors that disproportionately benefit women, the poor and vulnerable groups to measure progress towards this target. This is a very broad-ranging indicator, for which there are currently no data available.
While all aspects of development are important, in many respects the health of our planet is fundamental to all development. In 2015, 7.3 billion people lived on earth. By the end of the century, projections suggest there could be as many as 11.2 billion people – almost an additional 4 billion people competing for the basic requirements of life – food, water, heat and shelter (see Special note on population). This growth will naturally place additional pressures on an already strained environment – more food and water will be required, more waste generated and more energy consumed (see Goal 13, Goal 14, Goal 15). It will be important to meet these demands in as an environmentally sound way as possible. Consequently, the number of countries adopting multilateral environmental agreements is one metric or benchmark of sound policy frameworks that will impact on all aspects of development, not just environmental. Figure 1.7 shows the adoption rates for some of the most important environmental agreements over the past 45 years.
Some treaties, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
more or the World Heritage ConventionThe World Heritage Convention, is an international treaty adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1972.
more were introduced in the 1970s but have taken a long time to reach a high level of adoption. Others, such as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)CMS, also known as the Bonn Convention, aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.
more are still a long way from universal adoption with only 122 signatories in 2015. Agreements such as the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone LayerThe Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is a framework convention designed to coordinate efforts to protect the planet’s ozone layer. The Vienna Convention was adopted in 1985 and entered into force on 22 September 1988.
more was adopted by a majority of countries within about five or six years as the urgency of the situation emerged. Equally, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)The UNFCCC is an international convention introduced with the aim of preventing dangerous human impacts on the climate system.
more and its successor, the Kyoto ProtocolThe Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC that commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission-reduction targets.
more, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)The Convention on Biological Diversity is a multilateral treaty intended to further the development of national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
more and the accompanying Cartagena Protocol on BiosafetyThe Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the CBD is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another.
more to the CBD have enjoyed relatively fast rates of adoption.
Of course there is a big difference between signing a convention and implementing it. For example, the steady growth and concentration of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere and the rise in average global land–ocean temperatures (see Goal 13) suggest that the Kyoto ProtocolThe Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC that commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission-reduction targets.
more has not been implemented successfully. But this is not universally true. Several countries in Europe, for example, have reported significant progress (European Environment Agency, 2012). However, some contest the view that emissions have really stabilized or fallen in the developed world and argue that in fact they have simply been offshored to the developing world (Harvey, 2012). However, Brunel (2014) finds little evidence to support this pollution-offshoring hypothesis and argues that, in both the United States and the European Union, emissions reduction has been largely due to improvements in production techniques. Evidence of the benefits of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone LayerThe Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is a framework convention designed to coordinate efforts to protect the planet’s ozone layer. The Vienna Convention was adopted in 1985 and entered into force on 22 September 1988.
more have also recently emerged. A recent study published by Solomon et al. (2016) in the journal Science provides clear evidence that the thinning of the ozone layer above Antarctica has been retarded. The authors note that the hole in the ozone layer was approximately 4 million square kilometres smaller in 2015 compared with 2000. This improvement has been credited to the long-term phasing out of ozone-destroying chemicals.