Sustainable Development Policies

Sustainable Development Policies… (from IPCC, AR4, WGIII, Summary for Policy Makers)


Making development more sustainable by changing development paths can make a major contribution to climate change mitigation, but implementation may require resources to overcome multiple barriers. There is a growing understanding of the possibilities to choose and implement mitigation policies in several sectors to realize synergies and avoid conflicts with other dimensions of sustainable development.

Irrespective of the scale of mitigation measures, adaptation measures are necessary.

Addressing climate change can be considered an integral element of sustainable development policies. National circumstances and the strengths of institutions determine how development policies impact GHG emissions. Changes in development paths emerge from the interactions of public and private decision processes involving government, business and civil society, many of which are not traditionally considered as climate policy. This process is most effective when actors participate equitably and decentralized decision making processes are coordinated.

Climate change and other sustainable development policies are often but not always synergistic. There is growing evidence that decisions about macroeconomic policy, agricultural policy, multilateral development bank lending, insurance practices, electricity market reform, energy security and forest conservation, for example, which are often treated as being apart from climate policy, can significantly reduce emissions. On the other hand, decisions about improving rural access to modern energy sources for example may not have much influence on global GHG emissions.

Climate change policies related to energy efficiency and renewable energy are often economically beneficial, improve energy security and reduce local pollutant emissions. Other energy supply mitigation options can be designed to also achieve sustainable development benefits such as avoided displacement of local populations, job creation, and health benefits.

Reducing both loss of natural habitat and deforestation can have significant biodiversity, soil and water conservation benefits, and can be implemented in a socially and economically sustainable manner. Forestation and bioenergy plantations can lead to restoration of degraded land, manage water runoff, retain soil carbon and benefit rural economies, but could compete with land for food production and may be negative for biodiversity, if not properly designed.

There are also good possibilities for reinforcing sustainable development policies through mitigation actions in the waste management, transportation and buildings sectors.

Making development more sustainable can enhance both mitigative and adaptive capacity, and reduce emissions and vulnerability to climate change. Synergies between mitigation and adaptation can exist, for example properly designed biomass production, formation of protected areas, land management, energy use in buildings and forestry. In other situations, there may be trade-offs, such as increased GHG emissions due to increased consumption of energy related to adaptive responses.

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