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Photo on 2015-10-01 at 3.59 PM #6Report by Nicole Fassina. Nicole Fassina holds a Masters in Political Science from Wilfrid Laurier University and a graduate Disaster Management degree from Fanshawe College.  She was a CIGI graduate fellow working on food security in East Africa. She has previously interned or held full employment in the Disaster Management and Sustainable Development field in Tanzania, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Canada working with the World Health Organization, the Canadian Red Cross, Youth Challenge International and World Animal Protection.

This past weekend I attended the UN Sustainable Development Summit as a representative for the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS). I am grateful to ACUNS for the experience. In particular, it was great to see high-level commitments being made from heads of states, secretary-generals of international organizations, and executive directors from civil society regarding critical concerns of our generation. The Summit brings increased political will and attention to key sustainable development issues and world leaders stood united; implementing strategies to overcome poverty, food insecurity, inequality, conflict and environmental issues, including natural disasters, among other interconnected concerns.

The Summit was a culminating event from over two years of global consultations, which I had previously been involved with as project manager of an international team lobbying for disaster risk reduction policy within the new international goals. The UN Summit commenced with the UN General Assembly adopting the new 17 international goals and 169 targets that coincide, which take effect January 1, 2016 and remain in place until the year 2030.[1] I am pleased to announce that disaster risk reduction has successfully made appearances within the framework.

It was a highly informative and revealing event on sustainable development policy, particularly on areas where the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will need higher attention, but equally, on highlighting advancements in policy made by decision-makers to date. I enjoyed the discussions about technology transfer and the opportunities to learn and share best practices with other policy makers, all with the same mantra to “leave no one behind”[2] and to improve the world we live in today, socially, economically, and environmentally. That being said, the process is not over and the hard work is about to begin. The UN Statistical Commission has six months to agree upon global indicators, which will ultimately steer the implementation strategy of the goals and targets.

The entire weekend was a welcomed opportunity for forward thinking and strategizing global implementation plans. For example, in one high-level side event I participated in, heads of states, policy makers and influencers agreed that poverty must be a multidisciplinary issue, which needs to be addressed more widely than with economic indicators. The discussion was complemented with best practice examples of when political will has been effective and national poverty levels have decreased using a multidisciplinary poverty index. The hope is that a multidisciplinary poverty index will also keep people from slipping back in poverty. Including indicators representative of disaster management and underlying causes of poverty can ensure that development gains are not derailed when risks strike, such as a natural disaster. A commitment was made from national authorities to record these types of indicators within national census data. The UN Sustainable Development Summit was a historic event to be a part of because the weekend of September 25-27, 2015, was a time when global leaders and policy makers came together to make positive change on key issues. This in itself is something to celebrate.

[1] United Nations (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development (advance unedited version). Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/7891Transforming%20Our%20World.pdf

[2] Ibid.