Time is ticking. It’s been over three years since the international community agreed to adopt and collectively act to implement the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Certainly, the world has mobilised; actions are being taken. But there are still major challenges ahead, and the question now is how can we overcome these.
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C was published by the IPCC in October 2018, stressing the need for urgency to make a transition to a decarbonised society, and mapping out pathways to drastically reduce GHG emissions. The SR1.5 shows that, scientifically, limiting global warming to 1.5℃ can be done, but if we are to have any chance of achieving the drastic reductions described in the report, we need rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in social, economic and energy systems. In the closing remarks of COP24, Dr. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), stated that “Science has clearly shown that we need enhanced ambition to defeat climate change”. She repeated this word, ambition, five times and then emphisised her words with five priority areas: Ambition in mitigation. Ambition in adaptation. Ambition in finance. Ambition in technical cooperation and capacity building. Ambition in technological innovation.
So where do we stand now? We are at a crossroads and more importantly, we are at the point of no return. The world has to accelerate its actions for decarbonisation, and at the same time, we have to make sure the transition proceeds smoothly.
Let’s take a look at the calendar of key international processes and conferences for 2019. We see that ISAP2019 is scheduled at the end of July, just a few days after the conclusion of the seventh session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2019). Then, in the months after ISAP2019, we can see that the UN Climate Action Summit and SDGs Summit (September 2019) and UNFCCC-COP25 (December 2019) will be held. Turning to what is going on in Japan this year, we have the “Long-Term Strategy under the Paris Agreement as Growth Strategy (draft)” which was published in April 2019, and of course the “G20 Osaka Summit” is being held under Japan’s presidency in June. By all accounts, this year is an important one so ISAP2019 will be a stepping-stone linking these major processes, and we will be showing what we have been doing at IGES, our research results and messages and what kind of impacts we aim to generate. ISAP2019 will also be an opportunity to discuss how we can deliver our outputs to generate greater impacts in the future, in strategic and timely ways. In addition, we hope to gain insights from participants at ISAP and consider how IGES can function as a “change agent” in a changing world.