Integrating environment and development in the SDGs on food, water and energy

A successful interactive workshop hosted by SDSN Australia/Pacific on World Environment Day, 5 June 2015, as part of the 5th ACFID University Network Conference, brought together the sustainability/environment and international development communities to discuss how integration in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on energy, food and water can be achieved.

Download the intorductory presentation from the workshop.

The workshop, titled “The SDGs: Integrating equality and sustainability into food, water and energy for all”, was organised and conducted by Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP), the Monash Sustainability Institute and the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (ISF).

Development needs and environmental sustainability are often seen as trade-offs in international development projects around food, energy and water. However addressing them in an integrated way is essential: not only is adequate access to these resources fundamental to tackling inequality and poverty, but production and use of these resources without consideration of environmental sustainability can lead to conflicts and degradation of the natural systems on which development depends.

The need for integration is recognised in the new SDGs, which are expected to be agreed on at a UN Summit in September 2015. The aim of this workshop was to build on the SDGs to debate lessons and pathways that can evolve development practice to better integrate environmental resilience and linkages when addressing inequalities in access to food, water and energy.

20150605_111718 (1)Introducing the workshop, Peter Devereux from CUSP presented a range of current tools, approaches and resources to assist people to mainstream climate change, biodiversity and other environmental concerns in international development as a core part of implementing the SDGs. Additional input was provided by Dave Griggs and Phil Wallis (MSI) and Juliet Willetts (ISF) on the food water energy nexus and how to concurrently address poverty and social justice concerns and resource limitations.

This introduction was followed by world café style group work with the participants, who came from a range of institutions, including universities, WaterAid, ActionAid, and Australia’s development sector peak body, ACFID. Each group responded to two questions:

  1. How are inequalities (in access to food, water and energy) exacerbated by broader lack of attention to sustainable management of natural resources and how could these be addressed?
  2. How can an integrating approach (as per the proposed SDGs) encourage synergies rather than trade-offs between the equitable provision of food, water or energy AND environmental sustainability?

The groups shared a range of initiatives that demonstrated both successes as well as challenges and agreed on the need for greater cooperation between environment/sustainability and international development institutions and NGOs. It was felt the new SDGs provide a platform for greater cooperation and that practical measures need to be taken both in Australia and our region to strengthen this.

The introductory presentation from the workshop can be downloaded here.

A selection of web and journal resources highlighted at the workshop are below: