EMG Nexus Dialogues Series

The adoption the 2030 Agenda, in 2015, has challenged each UN agency to rethink their mission in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals. Previously, the Millennium Development Goals had guided the work of the UN and Member States, confining environmental challenges to a single goal, to ‘Ensure Environmental Sustainability’. The SDGs have expanded upon the complexities and brevity of environmental issues, having no fewer than six goals which primarily focus upon environmental sustainability. The SDGs also demand, to a greater extent, a holistic and integrated approach to the implementation of the three dimensions of sustainable development.

The EMG provides a service to the operationalization of environmental issues within the UN system by promoting coordination, information exchange and joint action among the UN agencies. The 17 SDGs present many new opportunities for synthesis among agencies. Taken individually, the SDGs can attract and energize specific agencies, ministries, and expert communities. Taken together, they can incite consideration as to how, between goals, environmental dimensions interact with each other, and with social and economic dimensions. This holistic approach offers opportunities for synergist work and cumulative effects, but also raise the thorny challenge of competing goals.

Techniques for addressing interactions between sectors are required. One such technique considers the spaces between or overlaps amid goals, the nexus.

The nexus concept has clear relevance to the work of the EMG. In the 22nd Meeting of the Senior Officials it was requested that the EMG will gather more frequently, with a focus on the nexuses of environmental issues embedded in the 2030 agenda. In response, the EMG has partnered with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) to host a series of Nexus Dialogues beginning in 2017 to promote nexus-driven action linked to the SDGs. For these Dialogues, the EMG defines a nexus approach as one that focuses on overlaps between sectors while respecting sectoral expertise in order to make better plans by understanding interactions.

The EMG Dialogue series contributes to a common understanding of the integrated goals and targets of the SDGs, as well as the requirements and opportunities these bring for UN entities to support the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda in a coherent and collaborative manner. The Dialogues provide an occasion for UN entities and other stakeholders to identify areas of mutual interest and to better understand the transmission channels through which an action in one sector may impact the outcomes of another.

Through the Dialogues, partners can view the SDGs from a nexus perspective, acquaint themselves with available nexus methodologies and seek to identify practical strategies for integrating the nexus approach into their mission and work. The Dialogues may also serve as an opportunity for Member States to consider how a nexus approach could support collaboration among different governmental departments.

The outcome of the Dialogues will be a set of identified environmental nexuses, a mapping of how environmental goals and targets contribute to other goals and targets and vice versa, and increased awareness of the nexus methodology as a way to approach the implementation of the integrated 2030 Agenda. In absence of a methodology or approach in addressing a nexus, the EMG may build on the results of the Dialogues to identify such an approach through its Issue Management Groups. Ultimately, the Dialogues may trigger UN agencies to establish multi-stakeholder partnerships to strengthen policy coherence and integrated policy development, and adopt mutual strategies and in support of implementing the SDGs.