What the Paris Agreement Means for the Sustainable Development Goals


The signing of the Paris Climate Agreement today, on Earth Day, represents a global consensus that climate change has, and will continue, to fundamentally alter our natural systems and challenge our way of life unless we take collective and measured steps towards a carbon neutral path. Significantly, it comes on the heels of another monumental international agreement that recognizes the importance of climate change – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Climate change and poverty are inextricably linked. They are both part of a dynamic system where impacts from one can accelerate the other. While the priority of the SDGs is the eradication of poverty in all forms, the SDGs also set forth an agenda for the entire world to move toward a more resilient and sustainable future.

In the broadest sense, the Paris Agreement commits to limiting global warming to “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels,” with additional language that the parties will pursue even more ambitious limits of “1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” Achieving these targets will require rapid and robust reductions in global emissions while increasing capacity to address the adverse impacts of climate change already felt around the world. The Paris Agreement and SDGs are closely integrated, and it is worth highlighting a few areas of overlap that capture the importance of an integrated approach and participation of all stakeholders.

First, Articles 7.1 and 7.5 of the Paris Agreement establish the goal of contributing to sustainable development through “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change.” In addition, Article 7.5 underscores that successful adaptation should be an integrated, country-driven process that is gender-responsive and inclusive of vulnerable populations, communities, and ecosystems. These articles directly support SDGs 5 (Gender Equality), 13 (Climate Action), and 15 (Life on Land), and indirectly contribute to several others.

Second, Article 8 of the Paris Agreement emphasizes the importance of “integrated, holistic, and balanced non-market approaches” to the implementation of sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts. These include efforts to build adaptive capacity, enhance public and private participation, and encourage technology transfer, directly linking to SDGs 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 13 (Climate Action), and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

These examples only scratch the surface of the interconnectedness of these agendas. Poverty alleviation cannot be achieved without an ambitious and comprehensive climate agenda. To achieve the climate agenda, we need integrated, localized, and sustainable solutions to end poverty. Together, the Paris Agreement and SDGs provide the foundation on which to build a more sustainable future. One cannot be achieved without the other, and both must be grounded in innovation, integration, and iteration.

Representatives from over 150 countries are expected to gather in New York today to sign the Paris Agreement ushering in a new phase in the fight to alleviate poverty and protect our planet. Achieving these goals will require sustained momentum and engagement at every level. We have the foundation, now let’s get to work.

Kristin Dreiling is a manager in Chemonics’ Environment and Natural Resources Practice and supports USAID's Restoring the Environment through Prosperity, Livelihoods And Conserving Ecosystems (REPLACE) IDIQ.

Leave a Comment

4 Recommendations for “Thinking and Working Politically” on Local Governance Projects


As Sharon van Pelt argued in her recent blog post, politics are an inescapable reality for any international development project and must be factored into project design and implementation. The “thinking and working politically” concept is catching on, and more development practitioners are using political economy analysis to understand national-level politics in the countries where they work. Projects can benefit from these studies, but we also need to dig deeper to understand politics at the...

Read More »

In Focus: Responding to Floods in Georgia


After severe floods struck the Tianeti region of Georgia, many farmers lost their crops and animal feed — and along with it, their livelihoods. In response to the disaster, the USAID New Economic Opportunities Initiative (NEO) provided multi-mineral feed blocks to the farmer pictured above and others to sustain their livestock throughout the winter. To encourage long-term growth in rural Georgian communities, NEO encouraged governments, businesses, and individuals to create community-level...

Read More »

The Power of Artistic Creativity in Preventing Electoral Violence in Côte d’Ivoire


This post was originally published by the Alliance for Peacebuilding and is cross-posted with permission. Chemonics is honored to be an Alliance for Peacebuilding member organization. The escalation of violence in Côte d’Ivoire after the disputed 2010 presidential election led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the country’s history. Violence devastated families, with an estimated 3,000 deaths, numerous arrests, and hundreds of thousands forced to flee as internally displaced persons or...

Read More »

Think Your Project Isn't Political? Think Again.


All changes and reforms are driven by interests and incentives. We generally understand this and, therefore, we try through our projects to foster positive incentives and collective interests that lead to the change we want to see. Sounds fairly straightforward, but clearly we know it is not, regardless of if we work in agriculture, climate change, health, education, or democracy and governance. Politics – that conflict and struggle for power – permeates the development activities we undertake in...

Read More »

Smallholder Salvation: Promoting Crop Insurance among Smallholder Farmers in Uganda


According to USAID’s recently released “Guide to the Use of Digital Financial Services in Agriculture,” there are an estimated 1.5 billion smallholder farmers worldwide producing approximately 80 percent of the global food supply, who together face an estimated $430 billion shortfall in critical financial services that are needed to support production. In Uganda, where smallholder farmers are responsible for 70 percent of total agricultural production, the Feed the Future Uganda...

Read More »

Business Is for Kids Too: What Business Leaders Are Teaching Young Students in Georgia


By Indira Amiranashvili and Nikoloz Chachkhiani Is business just for adults? In many countries, the business community’s involvement in education is limited to the secondary or post-secondary levels. Under USAID’s Georgia Primary Education (G-PriEd) program, however, we are trying another approach: engaging local businesses in primary education (Grades 1-6) with the goal of equipping children with basic business skills that will help them realize their full potential as adults. There are many...

Posted in: Education and Youth
Read More »

Now Is the Time: Let's End TB in Ukraine


By Kartlos Kankadze, Mariia Dolynska, and Viktoriia Gultai The theme of World TB Day this year, "Unite to End TB," reflects the World Health Organization's (WHO's) End TB Strategy, which recently replaced the Stop TB Strategy and corresponds to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). End TB sets an ambitious agenda between now and 2035, targeting a 95 percent reduction in number of TB-related deaths, 90 percent reduction in TB incidence rate, and zero families facing catastrophic costs due...

Posted in: Health
Read More »

World Water Day: Closing the Skills Gap for Better Water, Better Jobs in Water-Scarce Countries


Nearly all jobs are related to water. The UN emphasizes that sustainable development is contingent on adequate quality and quantity for public health and agricultural and economic development. Climate change strategies depend on the thousands of people who work in water to help transform societies by properly managing and operating utilities. While safe drinking water, sanitation, and wastewater management are crucial determinants for sustainable development, the UN has identified the need to...

Read More »

Mobile Money Promotes Messages of Peace in Cote d’Ivoire


This post was originally published by the Better Than Cash Alliance and is cross-posted with permission. Chemonics is a proud member of the alliance. Many Ivoirians were concerned that the 2015 presidential elections would lead to renewed conflict, particularly after the violence surrounding the elections of 2010. One successful peace-promoting initiative in the country used radio broadcasts to share messages about reconciliation and the need for ongoing peace during the election period. Payments...

Posted in: Strategic Solutions
Read More »

Benefiting Equally from Land – Reaching Women Before It’s Too Late


The timing, approach, and pace of land reform and collective farm restructuring throughout the former Soviet republics has varied dramatically – and in many places is still ongoing. Whether government chose to privatize land, guarantee land use rights, or keep the status quo of state ownership, land and access to it remains critical for millions of citizens who rely on the land for their livelihoods. Land challenges faced by those throughout Europe and Eurasia is very similar to tens of millions...

Read More »

This Land is My Land: Securing Land Rights for Vulnerable Groups Through Responsible Governance


This week, hundreds of the world’s leading land rights scholars, practitioners, and governors will convene in our nation’s capital for the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “Scaling up Responsible Land Governance,” and conference-goers will join forces to develop clear pathways for “working at scale, mainstreaming innovations, and sustaining investments in land governance.” This month also marks another significant event in land rights history, as more...

Read More »

Teacher Learning Circles: A Locally Owned Complement to Coaching


By Emet Mohr and Paige Morency Notario Coaching is a welcomed response to the need for active and continuous teacher professional development, which is linked to student achievement gains. Coaching provides significant short-term impact on instruction, but comes with potential long-term sustainability issues due to its high price tag and possible lack of local ownership. Teacher learning circles (TLCs) can serve as a promising addition to the existing coaching model by addressing these two...

Posted in: Education and Youth
Read More »

Examining Gender Parity on International Women’s Day


By Amelda Zotter and JoAnna Lipari International Women's Day has been celebrated around the world since the early 1900s. Originally, its aim was to provide a forum for women to campaign for equality and guarantee their human rights. Over the years, International Women’s Day has turned into a time to reflect on progress made, continue to call for change, and celebrate acts of courage by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. The theme...

Read More »

Radical Transparency: 3 Benefits of Formative Assessment in Promoting Student Learning


By Sarah Grausz and Nikita Soman Education is a fundamental building block for human development and a vital precursor for a country’s overall growth and advancement. When countries prioritize the provision of high-quality primary education, they experience long-term positive correlations in workforce development, economic growth, life expectancy, and democracy and governance processes. USAID’s Education Strategy reflects this fact through a strong commitment to improving early grade reading...

Posted in: Education and Youth
Read More »

Reading Is Thinking: Using Read-Alouds for Comprehensive Literacy Instruction


By Kathryn Camp and Laura Conrad Phonics teaches kids the most basic building blocks of literacy: how to read and pronounce the letters, letter groups, and syllables that come together to create meaning. But phonics-based education for children can and should be more than learning to recognize words. When coupled with interactive exercises, learning to read can unlock children’s imaginations and intellects, and spur critical thinking skills that bring lifelong benefits. Read-alouds can be...

Posted in: Education and Youth
Read More »

Where Are the Barriers? Studying Climate Change Adaptation in Mali


Climate change makes life even harder for subsistence farmers and marginal populations. In the development field, we need to learn how to address tangible problems that block adoption of improved mechanisms. USAID’s Climate Change Adaptation Activity (CCAA) in Mali — a two-year intervention in the Mopti Region — has such an opportunity. In conjunction with our partners, the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab (HURDL) and Sahel Eco, we are undertaking an intense study of the socioeconomic...

Read More »

Breaking Glass Ceilings in Higher Education


By Linda Flynn and Rebecca Jeudin Statistics for many regions around the world show that although women make up a significant percentage of undergraduate student enrollment, they hold only 10 percent of leadership positions in higher education. Globally, men outnumber women in higher education management, at about 5 to 1 in middle management and 20 to 1 at senior management levels. Why is this an issue? While women have excelled in post-secondary settings, the opportunities for women to be...

Posted in: Education and Youth
Read More »

Social and Behavior Change Communications — More than Just Mass Media


Social and behavior change communication (SBCC) is a mystery for many outside of the discipline. For one, it is different than behavior change communication (BCC). BCC solely focuses on promoting individual behavior change. On the other hand, SBCC also considers the social contexts, systems, and structures that lead to an enabling environment for social change as well as individual behavior change. The confusion of terms — SBCC, BCC, mass media communications, social marketing, and so forth — also...

Posted in: Strategic Solutions
Read More »

Beneficiaries' Success Is Their Own


In April, I visited farmers’ plots and greenhouses in western Georgia supported by the recently closed USAID’s New Economic Opportunities (NEO) Initiative. Our team met dozens of farmers, who were eager to share how they adopted new technologies or new crop varieties to double, triple, or even increase their household income 20 times over. For some, enthusiasm was an understatement.  I specifically recall speaking to Nana, an animated new strawberry farmer who heard about an information session...

Read More »