in: Nature Climate Change 13, 1002-1004
In 2015, the world embarked on an ambitious climate and development agenda with the adoption of the Paris Agreement (PA) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Now, eight years later, both processes are at important milestones assessing the progress achieved so far. In December 2023, the UN climate conference in Dubai will conclude the first Global Stocktake (GST), a process for assessing collective progress towards the PA objectives. In September, the midterm review of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will take place at the SDG Summit in New York. Still, no pleasant surprises are to be expected. It is already clear that progress to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement is way off track, as countries’ NDCs are far too weak to achieve the objectives of the Agreement. Similarly, at the mid-point to achieve the Agenda for Sustainable Development by 2030, no country is on track. Progress on the 17 SDGs has stalled over the past three years. On some Goals, the world has been backsliding, raising questions both about political will and about suitable options for changing course. Despite this disturbing state of affairs, calls for urgency have not resonated with policy makers. In the climate realm, the messages from the IPCC have become ever more alarming, UN Secretary-General Guterres has been exhorting countries to act, and the previous climate conferences in Glasgow and Sharm el-Sheik called on countries to enhance their NDCs – but very few actually did so. But how can we still make progress if all calls for urgency are in vain? It has long been argued that integration of the climate and sustainable development agendas is necessary to achieve both objectives. We argue that it is, in fact, indispensable and our only hope to close the ambition and implementation gaps.