Analysis by NOAA shows that in 2014, the combined land and ocean surface temperature was 1.24°F (0.69°C) above the 20th century average, making the year the warmest since records began in 1880. The ocean alone was record warm, while the land alone was fourth warmest. Five months set new records for warmth: May, June, August, September, and December. October tied for record warmest. The 20 warmest years in the historical record have all occurred in the past 20 years. Except for 1998, the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2002. This animation shows Earth’s surface temperature from 1880-2014 compared to the 20th-Century Average. The maps and graph are based on the MLOST data from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Source: NOAA Visualizations, 16 January 2015
Collaborate in Fostering Global Change for the Common Good
Originally published in Deliver 2030, 17 March 2016
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In September 2015, world leaders came together at the United Nations to agree on an ambitious new set of commitments that aim to end poverty and hunger, and secure the future of our planet within a generation.
Reaching agreement on the 2030 Agenda was the first step to creating a more inclusive and equitable society, in which no one is left behind. But the success or failure of the 2030 Agenda will hinge on how it is implemented.
Why do the Sustainable Development Goals matter?
The 2030 Agenda builds on and goes beyond the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs), a set of eight development goals that were adopted in 2001 and include quantitative targets to reduce key dimensions of poverty, among other development imperatives, by 2015.
While it is difficult to isolate their impact from other development trends, it is clear that the goals became an important reference point for development policy and helped to channel funds into key thematic areas.
Looking back over the last 15 years, it’s clear we’re able to achieve much for children all over the world. The number of people living in extreme poverty has decreased significantly, and under-five mortality has halved since 1990.
But despite these achievements, there is still much work left to do. Significant numbers of people across the world remain excluded, with many children being left behind. Considered approaches and coordinated efforts are needed to reach the most excluded groups, and the 2030 Agenda provides the framework to make this happen.
The 2030 Agenda has a broader scope than the MDGs, encompassing the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and with a stronger focus on issues such as peace and governance, inequality, and global public goods such as the climate and oceans. It includes commitments to ‘get to zero’ on critical areas, such as ending child mortality, and commits to universal access to services.
If the Agenda is to be as transformative in practice as it is on paper, governments and other stakeholders need to take immediate action.
So what should governments do?
Save the Children has set out an action plan for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Our new report, From Agreement to Action: Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, draws on evidence from across the Save the Children family, including inputs from 12 countries. It draws lessons from the MDGs, to provide guidance to governments and other stakeholders as they design strategies for implementing the SDGs.
The report is primarily aimed at governments – who have the main responsibility for implementing the 2030 Agenda – but also includes lessons for other stakeholders, including donors, UN agencies and the private sector.
As UN Member States begin their journey on the road to 2030, here are five issues that Save the Children would like to see on top on their to do lists:
1 National plans, budgets and strategies
Integrating the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda into national priorities, actions, plans and budgets is a critical first step towards national ownership and implementation. Experience from the MDGs shows us that where goals were integrated in national plans and aligned with existing priorities, they had more traction.
2 Institutions and coordination mechanisms
To translate plans into progress, strong institutions and coordination mechanisms are essential. Public institutions must be given the necessary resources to deliver the SDGs, while coordination mechanisms, particularly within key political ministries, can help drive change.
3 Ensuring no one is left behind
Making sure that everyone benefits from development progress demands targeted approaches, such as stepping stone equity targets to ensure equitable progress across all goals.
To eradicate poverty we need to know who is living in poverty, where they live and what they need. Strengthening data systems and producing high-quality disaggregated data is essential for tackling group-based inequalities and ensuring no one is left behind.
Successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda depends on governments being held to account for goals and targets, and people, including children, having an active role in accountability processes. Governments must report on progress in open, accessible and participatory ways, supporting the active engagement of all, including children and marginalised groups.
From a human development perspective, work, rather than jobs or employment is the relevant concept. A job is a narrow concept with a set of pre-determined time-bound assigned tasks or activities, in an input-output framework with labour as input and a commodity or service as output. Yet, jobs do not encompass creative work (e.g. the work of a writer or a painter), which go beyond defined tasks; they do not account for unpaid care work; they do not focus on voluntary work. Work thus is a broader concept, which encompasses jobs, but goes beyond by including the dimensions mentioned above, all of which are left out of the job framework, but are critical for human development.
Work is the means for unleashing human potential, creativity, innovation and spirits. It is essential to make human lives productive, worthwhile and meaningful. It enables people to earn a living, gives them a means to participate in society, provides them with security and gives them a sense of dignity. Work is thus inherently and intrinsically linked to human development.
But it is important to recognize that there is no automatic link between work and human development. Nor does every type of work enhance human development. Exploitative work, particularly exploitation of women and children, robs people of their fair share, their rights and their dignity. Likewise, work that is hazardous - work without safety measures, labour rights, or social protection - is not conducive to human development.
More importantly, the linkages between work and human development must be seen in the context that over time the notion of what constitutes work has changed, areas of work have shifted and the modus operandi of work has evolved. What used to mean work three decades ago is no longer valid, and work is defined differently now. Now, some of these changes may contribute positively to various dimensions of human development, but some aspects of these new phenomena may have negative impacts for human development.
In the context of all these changes, time has come to relook at the issue of work in its various dimensions and dynamics through a human development lens. Thus the 2015 Human Development Report (2015 HDR) will be on Rethinking Work for Human Development.
To be launched in December 2015, the Report will zoom in on the fundamental question – how work can be rethought for human development –– to enrich human development. Given this broader perspective, the focus of 2015 HDR will be based on five building blocks:
Rethinking the linkages between work and human development identifying the positive intrinsic relationship between work and human development - Work provides livelihoods, income, a means for participation and connectedness, social cohesion, and human dignity - but also those situations where linkages are broken or eroded - child labour, human trafficking, etc.
Revisiting the new world of work, where the notions of work, areas of work and modus operandi of work have changed and the implications for human development. ICT and mobile devices are revolutionizing work. People can work anywhere. There is an e-economy. We ask the question – are these changes enhancing human development? And how may they best be harnessed to promote equitable opportunities?
Recognizing the worth of care work and its impact on human development. For instance care for those who cannot care for themselves is important in itself for human survival but there are other connections to human development: from an intergenerational perspective, care work is crucial for the cognitive development of children.
Refocusing on the notion of sustainable work to be incorporated into the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. This will include, among other issues, the environmental value of green and low carbon emission jobs and so on. And also the quality of work that can be sustained over long periods.
Recommending policy options for reorienting, reinventing and reorganizing work so that it enriches human development
Several targeted issues will be taken up throughout the report– youth employment, gender aspects of work, agriculture and rural development, the informal sector, and work during crisis and in post-crisis situations. In realizing the post2015 international agenda it will be critical to enable youth, who make up 50 per cent of the global population, and women, holding up half the sky, to find work opportunities that enable them to participate constructively, creatively and equitably in society.
The nexus approach to the sustainable management of water, soil, and waste integrates environmental management and governance across sectors and scales. This approach requires a holistic understanding of the interlinkage of all related environmental processes, while also taking into consideration global change and socioeconomic aspects.
Exploring these interlinkages and advancing a nexus-oriented management approach requires integrated modeling tools. However, no single modeling tool is available or conceivable that can cover all processes, interactions and drivers related to the management of water, soil and waste resources.
To help overcome this challenge, the UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) has developed an interactive Nexus Tools Platform (NTP) for comparison of existing modelling tools related to the water-soil-waste nexus. Currently, the NTP database consists of 60 models from around the world. The platform provides detailed model information and advanced filtering based on real-time visualizations, and will continuously grow with the input and feedback from model developers and model users.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the guiding framework for international development until 2030 and are intended to provide a reference for setting national policy priorities.
This unique, searchable database provides a snapshot of what those national priorities are. Users can compare existing national targets with the ambition of the SDGs. We intend this to be a living document, supplemented and kept up to date by crowdsourcing, and we encourage others to send us new information on national goals to update the tracker.
"C-ROADS is an award-winning computer simulation that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of policy scenarios to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It allows for the rapid summation of national greenhouse gas reduction pledges in order to show the long-term impact on our climate." For more information, click
Each year, the Human Development Index (HDI), the signature index of the Human Development Reports (HDR), captures headlines across the globe, as countries track their progress in education, health and income. Although the HDI is not a comprehensive measure of human development, it is a broader assessment of human well-being and it shows how, human development measures have become a touchstone in assessing progress over the last 25 years.
The HDI, which was introduced in the first Human Development Report (1990), has been pioneering in the field and remains one of the – if not the – most influential of indices in development debates. Other human development measures and indices have been progressively introduced to the reports. And today HDRs include a family of composite indices and indicators that are used every year to, among other things, analyze a critical theme, providing a broad lens to understand human progress and, hence, influence development thinking.
But, today, with new conceptual understanding and greater availability of data, there is an opportunity to work towards even more meaningful and more relevant measures of human development progress. With the world adopting a new development agenda with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its center, the need for revisiting various measures for human development is also there. The 2016 Human Development Report 'Human Development – the Way Ahead' aims to strengthen how human development outcomes can be assessed in several fundamental ways.
With better data, it is now possible to have measures of human development progress at a finer level of granularity. This would enable the 2016 Report to focus not only on average achievements in a country, but also to consider the distribution of outcomes to better illustrate inequality of opportunity and outcomes for different groups (e.g. gender, socio-economic groups, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, older people etc.). The existing indices for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the realm of human development will also be revisited.
It is also imperative to look at the quality of human development achievements, not only their quantity. Over the years, many societies have seen considerable progress in human development - for example, higher school enrollment rates with many more children completing primary education than in previous decades. But this does not represent sustainable human progress unless these children can read and write properly. With more relevant data now available, the 2016 Report will look at the quality of human development outcomes (in this case learning) rather than inputs or outputs (such as enrollment rates).
Over the last 25 years, the conceptual understanding of what human development means has evolved. When looking ahead, it is natural to ask how the existing indices can be complemented to reflect broader understanding of human development. How could environmental sustainability, inter-generational equity or human security, for example, be better addressed in terms of human development indices?
Likewise, efforts are being made now to assess individual well-being through various measures – happiness surveys, big data or real time data and so on at the national and regional level. The 2016 Report will explore whether measures of subjective wellbeing can help assessments of human development across the world.
Exploring ways to go beyond an index
A comprehensive picture of human development calls for composite indices to be complemented by new ways of presenting data such as a dashboard of relevant indicators, to achieve in depth understanding of specific issues. When assessing human progress, the 2016 Report will also look for comprehensive ways of presenting data, perhaps also including dashboards to measures of gender equality and sustainability.
As discussed in my previous blog, the 2016 Report will aim to make a contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Report will explore how human development and Agenda 2030 indicators can reinforce one another. For example, could some of the human development indicators be matched to the agreed indicators for the SDGs? And could some of the SDG indicators shed new light on aspects of human development: if so how might the HDR best capture those insights?
The development landscape of 2016 is very different to that of 1990 when the first human development report was released. But just as the landscape has changed, so too have the available indicators and data that are vital for understanding the directions in which we want to head, and designing the policies to get there.The next Human Development Report will signal directions for progress in human development assessment for the next 25 years.
The HDialogue blog is a platform for debate and discussion. Posts reflect the views of respective authors in their individual capacities and not the views of UNDP/HDRO.
HDRO encourages reflections on the HDialogue contributions. The office posts comments that supports a constructive dialogue on policy options for advancing human development and are formulated respectful of other, potentially differing views. The office reserves the right to contain contributions that appear divisive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Selim Jahan is Director of the Human Development Report Office, United Nations Development Program.