The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, was an action-oriented conference focusing on implementation of sustainable development.

This newsletter aims to highlight the work carried out by Member States, United Nations system, Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders in implementing sustainable development and leading the way to the Future We Want.


High Hopes for the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development

Participants at an expert group meeting on the role of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) in the post-2015 development framework expressed optimism about the Forum’s ability to invigorate sustainable development and UN work in this area. The meeting took place from 30 April to 1 May, under Chatham House Rules, and was well attended by representatives of Member States, UN system, Major Groups, academia and other stakeholders.

Participants described the HLPF as natural home for the post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs, and said it should play an important role in monitoring and reviewing both. Its task of further integrating the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development was also highlighted. To do so, it would be necessary for the Forum to engage government officials and actors from the economic and financial area, such as the World Bank and IMF, together with those from the social and environmental sphere.

Discussants outlined clearly the direction they think the HLPF should move in. The reviews of implementation, which the Forum will conduct as of 2016, were seen as a tool not only to assure accountability, but also to accelerate sustainable development progress. Speakers underscored the importance of building linkages between the Forum and national institutions, notably the sustainable development councils. It was also seen as critical that deliberations at the HLPF are informed by scientific findings, evidence from the country level and solid data. The Global Sustainable Development Report will have a key role in this respect.

Through the Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) format, the Forum will also provide participation opportunities for non-central state actors like no other UN process does. It was noted that the time had come to decide on specific arrangements for the engagement of MGoS.

Convened under the auspices of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the HLPF has its own distinct identity. It has the potential to rally decision-makers and actors at the highest level and to promote coordination within the UN system in the implementation of the post-2015 agenda.

Further information can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.


"The outlines of SDGs are forming", say Open Working Group co-chairs

The eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is taking place from 5 to 9 May. At its opening, the co-chairs of the Group said that the outlines of SGDs are forming, but the Group would have to limit their number, ensure their universality, and refine the targets.

In preparation for the session, the co-chairs shared a revised working document which now contains 16 focus areas and can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. The draft programme of the session has also been uploaded to the platform: http://bit.ly/1iBfUwe


Nature and humankind as equal partners

The President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, convened an interactive dialogue on Harmony with Nature on 22 April at UN Headquarters in New York. The dialogue commemorated International Mother Earth Day and advanced discussions on Harmony with Nature in order to promote a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

In his opening remarks, Mr Ashe said that a sustainable approach to development also means that we must consciously and deliberately choose to evolve our purely human-centred worldview - or "anthropocentrism" - toward a more balanced, Earth-centred relationship with the planet. “Under this new paradigm, nature is recognized as an equal partner with humankind, as well as a crucial ally”, he said.

The Interactive Dialogue examined the key characteristics of a new, non-anthropocentric paradigm and began to identify specific strategies on how societies subsequently would need to function consistent with this paradigm.

It provided guidance to further build up a knowledge network that will advance this paradigm, upon which all the different approaches that reflect the drivers and values of living in Harmony with Nature will be rooted. The foundation of this network has been laid in the Harmony with Nature website. The website contains an extensive and in-depth bibliography of academic expertise focussing on an Earth-centered relationship with Nature instead of the prevailing human-centered paradigm, as well as the latest legal developments on the rights of nature, law and policy.

Future strategies should rely on the most current scientific information to achieve sustainable development, in light of the fundamental interconnections between humanity and Nature.

Statements, presentations and further information on the event can be found on the Harmony with Nature website.


New Blog outlines rationale for a third Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Preparations are in full swing for the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States which will take place in Samoa on 1-4 September. Leading this work is UN DESA’s Under-Secretary- General and the Conference Secretary-General Wu Hongbo. Mr. Wu has just launched a blog to share information and weekly updates ahead of this major event. In his first blog entry, Mr Wu explains why it is so important to have a third SIDS Conference, among other things.


Promo-video explores some fundamental questions on the SIDS Conference

Members of the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee for the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States shared their views on a number of major conference issues for a short promo-video.

Featured in the video, in order of appearance:

  • Ali'ioaiga Feturi Alisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa
  • Milan J N Meetarghan, Permanent Representative of Mauritius
  • Ronald Jumeau, the Roving Ambassador of Seychelles for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States
  • Karen Tan, Permanent Representative of Singapore
  • Phillip Taula, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand


Partnership of the Month: Global Island Partnership (GLISPA)

The overarching theme of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States is "The sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships". The Conference will serve as a forum to build on existing successful partnerships as well as to launch innovative and concrete new ones. The SD in Action newsletter will present a successful “Partnership of the Month” in each of its editions in the run-up to the Conference.

Global Island Partnership (GLISPA)

Inspired by the urgent call made by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the Mauritius Meeting in 2005 for high-level political commitment to confront the global challenge on islands, the two leaders H.E. Tommy Remengesau, former President of the Republic of Palau, and H.E. James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, conceived a shared idea which initiated the forging of an open global partnership which garners greater collaboration of leaders of other island nations, regardless of size or political status, to conserve and sustainably employ the invaluable island natural resources that support people, cultures and livelihoods.

The Global Island Partnership was launched at the 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Brazil 2006. It explicitly targets the catalysing and strengthening of leadership and commitments to successfully (i) implement regional island challenges and other partner commitments, (ii) catalyze commitments to ecosystem-based adaptation, mitigation and reducing the threat of invasive species, and (iii) link conservation and sustainable livelihoods to development dialogue

GLISPA has successfully compelled and accelerated actions and commitments by more than 50 governments and territories and over 70 organizations toward the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods. Information on specific commitments can be found on the GLISPA website: https://www.cbd.int/island/commitments.shtml. Internationally, GLISPA is recognized as a mechanism for advancing conservation of island biodiversity. It was identified as a best practice partnership by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and as a success factor in preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.


General Assembly Dialogues on Technology Facilitation

The Rio+20 Outcome Document ‘The Future We Want’ highlighted the central role of technology for the achievement of sustainable development. It requested the United Nations to identify options for "a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies by, inter alia, assessing the technology needs of developing countries, options to address those needs and capacity-building".

The General Assembly decided to hold a series of four one-day structured dialogues, supported by the United Nations system and enabling the involvement of relevant stakeholders to consider possible arrangements for a facilitation mechanism.

The first two General Assembly dialogues were held on 29 and 30 April. The first one focused on stock-taking of the international debates on development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies. The second focused on assessing fragmentation, synergies, areas of duplication and opportunities for cooperation between existing mechanisms and processes, thus improving overall coherence and enhancing inter-linkages.

The programme and the background documents of the meetings can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, together with a full video recording. Also, a summary is expected to be circulated by the President of the General Assembly.


A Conversation with Maurice Strong

The video A Conversation with Maurice Strong was released on the occasion of his 85th birthday and the launch of the Maurice Strong University Network on April 29th. Mr Strong has been one of the most influential voices for the environment and sustainable development. He led the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and was the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) first Executive Director. In 1992, he was Secretary General of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Please note that the views expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.


United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
Copyright United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs