I had the pleasure of moderating the day and a half of the UN Environmental Management Group (EMG) Nexus Dialogue. had some interesting outcomes. Here is the key points from the Technical Day I presented on the second day High Level Segment.
Defining the nexus concept
- The Nexus approach was integral to the SDGs from the beginning as proposed by Colombia
- Nexus particularly important to the 2030 Agenda necessitates integrated policy and integrated implementation. Nexus is very challenging, but the EMG dialogues create a space for developing shared view of the landscape you are working with and raises awareness of opportunities and constraints.
- The Nexus definition in the context of the EMG dialogues we are using is – “A connection or series of connections linking two or more sectors.”
Its flexible and can cut across scales, planning, strategy and implementation.
- The Nexus recognises that Crucial decisions are made between sectors, so these EMG dialogues will bring sectoral experts to work together at the overlaps looking at both positive and negative aspects.
- The EMG members can play a significant role in mobilising dialogue and action around the Nexus on the environmental side of the SDGs.
- Focus of the Technical Segment yesterday, was to look at the practical approaches of how to identify and address conflicts and synergies in our work.
- Quote: “Focus on environment can be a door opener because it is an added-on value. It brings more stakeholders together.” The pillars are integral to all SDGs.
- Within the UN System the PAGE partnership showed how a Nexus approach is already being applied through joint UN Agencies and Programme collaborative work
- The EMG can play a facilitating role within the UN system for Nexus knowledge sharing mechanisms and these dialogues can lead to better understanding and we hope bigger impacts on the ground. As well as to positive reinforcements= building collaborations and recognizing opportunities and challenges.
- There will be tradeoffs between different sectors and at all levels – these can be minimized by creating a shared vision and goals. A Nexus approach needs time to build trust and strengthen new partnerships. Looking where possible for synergies between setors.
- New institutions may need to be created to help coordinate Nexus Partnerships.
- Interagency coordination can help not only with ongoing dialogues but also with implementation on the ground.
- The EMG can help with collaboration to share and identify data gaps
- An interesting example of Country level success of incorporating SDG into national context was given by the Swedish EPA. They have looking at how their present plans fit into delivering the SDGs. They have a Generationsmål GENERATIONAL GOAL
“The overall goal of Swedish environmental policy is to hand over to the next generation a society in which the major environmental problems in Sweden have been solved, without increasing environmental and health problems outside Sweden’s borders.”
- Their approach is linking together Government agencies
- 26 national government agencies with specific responsibilities
- 8 national lead agencies separate responsibility for folowing up
- SEPA - guiding and coordinating
- The Environmental Objectives Council, County administrative boards, Local authorities (municipalities) as well as working with the business sector, stakeholder organisations and the public are crucial to achieving the objectives. While then creating a permanent feedback loop of
- Government Bill
- Parliamentary decision
- Implementation of measures in society
- Annual Review of Progress
- Evaluation every four years
- Finally, on the Opportunities the systems modelling helps policy making. Nexus is about complexity and a human-environment system will always be challenging to be understood. We will never have enough information, uncertainty will exist. The Nexus is about looking to solve problems without creating new problems.
- Challenges for the Nexus are both internal and external these include:
- Core-institutional- silo mentality of decision makers, natural tendency to put environmental concerns at the bottom of priorities, lack of high level support, incoherence vertically-capture at policy level and hard to implement in practice
- Working across sectors isn’t often recognised – for academics there is little reward for interdisciplinary work – there is competition for resources at the intergovernmental level and collaborative work isn’t as prioritized as it should – the EMG can help here .
- The EMG could determine what are the guidelines and principles for Nexus approaches so they help influence effective interlinked national level policy and implementation
- Success in addressing the Nexus requires communication to be transparent, clear messaging, creating a language both sides understand as different sectors often use different language
- Nexus is about as we said in opportunities to try and ensure we are solving problems and not creating new ones.
- To be better at ensuring the best practices are shared with the right people and/or transferable to other sectors
- Identifying the barriers in the Nexus requires time among the stakeholders.
- Not everyone is a Nexus Hero some important partners may show a lack of motivation to partner in Nexus work
- Proper stakeholder mapping and engaging all the relevant stakeholders is a critical challenge
- Recognizing that the Nexus becomes most critical at the sub national level where we need close gap between planning and implementation.
- Tools and methodologies- lack of evidenced based decision making, lack of access to data, lack to policy relevant data, lack of metrics of nexus bedded decision making, mapping existing nexuses, performance based reporting recognizes and values nexus decision making
- Nexus skills-need to be developed
- Nexus approach should include quantifying social, justice, and environmental benefits
- Engaging with local institutions and stakeholders both in the development policy integration and coordinated implementation.
- There is a backlash to globalization, in many countries we are seeing a more inward looking agenda on political side.
- At yesterdays workshop we had presentations of a range of tools, including
- the Future Wheel negative),
- SWOC-Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges, and
- Actor network maps.
· Questions were raised as to whether existing tools actually need to be combined, synergies created etc. It was noted also that these tools may well be better left to their individual devices.
- System dynamic modelling - The approach begins with defining problems dynamically, proceeds through mapping and modeling stages, to steps for building confidence in the model and its policy implications. Has an important role to play.
The choice of future dialogues
Environment and the humanitarian sector:
- Nexus Partners need to ensure that definitions and terminological are on the same page.
- Time is a factor the environment movement timelines are often long term while the humanitarian sector is often very short term as they are dealing with a disaster.
- Different skillsets come from the different sectors and need to match up and increase understandings
- Often people on the ground don’t always have time to train in new thinking – this needs to be built into their normal training programmes
- There is a need to incorporate environment into procedures, need for better data sharing
- Again share data, could better mitigate environmental impacts, room to incorporate environment at the country level on the ground
Environment and poverty
- Lack of coordination,
- Lack of ability to do effective trade-offs,
- Lack of institution structures to foster joint work,
- Lack of vision, skills sharing,
- Lack of sharing knowledge and information,
- Science drives environmental policy and isn’t always easy to understand and poverty has softer and different language.
- SDG agenda brings to the front the need for interlinked work – nexus work
- There are particular opportunities around a focus on SDG 7 (Energy) rural development on renewable technologies and energy, local planning and stakeholders should be engaged and also around sustainable consumption and production (SDG12)
- Political agenda has been set and it was developed with stakeholders so there is a shared ownership
- The development of multistakeholder partnerships will be critical at the local level to deliver many of the SDGs and the interlinkages between them.
- Local and Sub national authorities can play a facilizing role here while recognising culture and gender need to be taken into account as well as lack access to finance,
- Corruption, bribery, and government structures are other topics that were thought to have challenges.
Urban pollution, health and sustainable development:
o Human health vs economic growth
o How smart are smart cities?
o Continued finances toward certain issues, when countries have their own issues.
o Pollution vs hunger
o Urban Transportation, pollution, health.