Q&A: Kaja Peterson on Joining the UN Sustainable Development Summit

Written by Helen Saarniit

Monday, 21 September 2015 15:36

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SEI Tallinn’s Programme Director on Sustainable Development, Kaja Peterson, will be travelling to New York as part of the Estonian delegation at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development starting on Friday 25 September.

Kaja Peterson is just entering her second term as Chair of the Estonian Commission on Sustainable Development. In this role, she has been invited to join the Estonian delegation at the UN Summit. Here she talks about what she will be doing in New York, and her hopes for post-2015 sustainable development under Agenda 2030.

The Commission on Sustainable Development was founded in 1996. It now consists of volunteer representatives of non-governmental groups, including SEI Tallinn, and gathers under the Government Office of the Republic of Estonia.

 

Q: What is the summit going to look like for you? What are you going to do there?

KP: I will be joining a variety of roundtables and side-events. I am planning to attend the roundtables on climate change, on sustainable consumption and production, and on building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. I’m also hoping I’ll be able to join a high-level meeting hosted by French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and maybe also two organized by the Swedish delegation, on peacebuilding and on implementation of Agenda 2030. I am also looking forward to hearing our president’s speech at the General Assembly.

Before the Summit, I will be at Columbia University for the 3rd International Conference on Sustainable Development. I look forward to hearing presentations by some leading thinkers, including Jeffrey Sachs and SEI’s former director Johan Rockström.

Q: What are Estonia’s priorities at the summit?

KP: Estonia will underline the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) as a tool for improving the quality of life. The Estonian delegation is planning a joint side event with the World Bank and the US and Indian delegations on the wider use of the internet in implementing the Global Goals, particularly in providing access to education and training, and in facilitating job creation. In addition, Estonia also stresses the importance of the climate agreement to be reached in Paris later this year and the joint commitment of all countries to achieve sustainable development.

Q: What are your biggest hopes for Agenda 2030?

KP: We have just one planet for all the 7.2 billion people alive today, and for future generations. There is no other way of surviving on this planet than to respect the natural environment – the source of most of our basic needs as humans, as a society, and a global community.

This is one of the very positive things about Agenda 2030. Although only three of the Global Goals – 13, 14 and 15 – are regarded as “environmental” goals, environmental issues are embedded in the so-called basic human needs goals, such as Goal 2 on food security and nutrition, Goal 3 on health and well-being, Goal 6 on water, and Goal 7 on energy; not to mention the so-called economic goals, 8 to 12, which all depend on natural resources, either renewable or non-renewable.

It is vital for humanity to respect the limits of our planet. I hope world leaders understand that and take responsible action once Agenda 2030 is adopted. 

 

Read the new SEI Working Paper Sustainable Development Goals for Sweden: Insights on Setting a National Agenda.

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