My report back to UNEA-4 Plenary on the MinisterialPhoto by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis Leadership Dialogues

Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis
I had the pleasure of moderating Leadership 3 on  Innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological changes. I was then asked to present the outcome from all the three leadership dialogues. Here is the text i presented to the UNEA-4 plenary.

It is a great pleasure for me to delivery to the closing plenary of the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly the key messages that resulted from the Leadership Dialogues.
A common tread amongst all the dialogues is that in order to succeed, a substantial shift in sustainable consumption and production patterns needs to occur in all countries, in line with the ambitions and targets of the 2030 Development Agenda.

In Leadership Dialogue 1: Environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss: much progress was highlighted both by the invited speakers and the Ministers and Heads of Delegation, in building inclusive and resilient economies that brings people out of poverty, ensure food security, education, and provide for a healthy environment, but we also heard about the serious challenges that are threatening to derail our efforts.
We know that the world is at a crossroads – resource use, environmental degradation and climate change are being driven by food systems suffering from unsustainable consumption and production patterns. The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement have given us a roadmap
We are already witnessing a mega trend in biodiversity and ecosystems loss that are ultimately are impacting human health.
A transformation of our food system has to take place that develops integrates innovative solutions that link implementation that is favorable to farmer livelihoods, the environment and health outcomes.
The SDGs highlighted that it is very important that dialogues and partnerships take place across the food systems spectrum and amongst those stakeholders particular those that do not normally speak to each other. Only then can consensus be reached to transform food systems at local and national levels, that mainstreams biodiversity and tackles climate change.

In Leadership Dialogue 2: Life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management.
We heard that life cycle approaches provide the systemic perspective necessary to focus on the key levers of change and they address potential trade-offs linked to alternative solutions; while helping to address market distortions and economic signals.
We heard about the benefits of life cycle approaches and how they may be scaled up through strategic decisions such as institutional procurement (both public and private) and investment, that can boost the transition towards sustainable consumption and production.
The digital transformation is an important enabler for the necessary changes connected to life cycle approaches and the circular economy – we should encourage traceability, and transparency to empower consumers.
UN Environment is already contributing to the enabling conditions for the global application of life cycle approaches such as enhanced capacity and access to data, but more is required. The Global Lifecycle Data Access network, and the Hotspots Tool to assess national footprints were highlighted
We acknowledge that special attention should be given to lower income countries, showing how life cycle approaches can help them leap-frogging to a better future focusing on social aspects of the transition – which should be a just transition (employment, inclusiveness, local benefits). Therefore, we need a strong focus on cooperation and implementation.

In Leadership Dialogue 3: Innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological changes.
We heard how many governments are at the forefront in creating enabling conditions for the uptake of more sustainable business practices and promotion of innovation. How businesses that adopt sustainable innovative business models and innovative technologies create significant value for themselves and for society. But we also acknowledged that much more needs to be done to transform our economies and societies.
To scale up the adoption of sustainable business practices, we would need to align policy frameworks, funding mechanisms and infrastructure to achieve this goal.
A strong and coherent policy framework is required to boost innovation, new technologies and better jobs. This is particularly important for small and medium enterprises and therefore, funding needs to be available to support those innovative businesses which pioneer new ideas and business models.
Innovative technologies can help overcome infrastructure gaps, especially in the context of Africa, and help avoid lock-in unsustainable and inefficient infrastructure. In this sense, innovation and big data are playing a significant role in shaping the sustainable business models and creating the new inclusive and participatory economy of the future.
This discussion which we initiated during the Dialogue will continue at the Fourth UN Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum) which will convene in New York, US, from 14-15 May 2019.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the speakers the member states that participated in the UN Environment Assembly Leadership Dialogue and the amazing UNEP staff who have helped make these so successful. .


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