In July 2017, Vital Signs together with the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability(GDSA) and Conservation International held a workshop on how nature contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The GDSA resulted from a 2012 summit with African head of states,in collaboration with public and private sectors from 10 African countries committed to promoting sustainable development .The overall objective is “To ensure that the contributions of natural capital to sustainable economic growth, maintenance and improvement of social capital and human well-being are quantified and integrated into development and business practice.” Vital Signs is working with the GDSA to understand opportunities for how existing datasets in GDSA countries can be used to help inform decision-making.
The workshop brought participants from six GDSA countries (Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). These participants came from a range of entities, including their Bureaus of Statistics, Finance and Planning, and Ministries of Environment.
During the workshop, countries shared their ‘state of play’ for national-level SDGs planning and reporting. In addition, CI introduced their SDGs assessment framework, which looks at how nature underpins 50+ targets under the 13 SDG, and discussed with participants how the tool could help government officials make the case for nature as a foundation for achieving the SDGs. The idea behind these discussions is that natural systems support our food production, clean our water, regulate our climate, and safeguard the Earth’s diverse species – and by doing so, support our development ambitions.
Workshop participants expressed that they valued learning more about the relationships between nature and the SDGs, and thinking about these connections through a new approach. Participants flagged the importance of being able to monitor and report on the SDGs in order to measure their achievement. They also highlighted the importance of understanding the value of natural capital and how this value can be linked more explicitly to development issues.
As a next step, CI and Vital Signs will be working to undertake a more in-depth analysis of how natural capital underpins the SDGs in one pilot country to enable full integration of nature to achieve their climate and sustainable development goals. CI will also produce an expanded analysis of how nature underpins not only the SDGs, but also contributes to the achievement of international commitments on climate change (the Paris Agreement) and biodiversity (the Aichi Targets). Information from this pilot work will be made available on the GDSA website, with lessons sharing to GDSA member countries. In addition, the GDSA – and partners – will be looking for opportunities to expand work on this subject in the GDSA member countries in the near future.
Interested in getting more information the GDSA's work around the SDGs? Check out our page on Vital Signs for Sustainability.