Progress towards Sustainable Development in Southern Africa Summary for Policy Makers
UNECA, 2012
by: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

This report was prepared for the Rio+20 UN Summit1 and presents a synopsis of efforts made by the region, starting from the Earth Summit in 19921 (the Rio Summit), through the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10), to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), scheduled for 20-22 June 2012, and is thus a guide to the extent to which the Africa region has implemented international and regional commitments on sustainable development. By June 2012, the world would have had precisely two decades to develop strategies and institutions, implement policies and programmes, build partnerships and mobilize resources to move from a conventional to a sustainable development paradigm. This transition is no longer an option, but has become a necessity for the long-term survival of humanity. From 20 to 22 June 2012, people from throughout the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in order to revisit issues, commitments and progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 (A21), which resulted from the 1992 Earth Summit, held in Rio from 3 to 14 June 1992, and reinforced by the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (PFIA21) of 1997, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) of 26 August ? 4 September 2002, which gave rise to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation ( JPOI). Mandated by a decision of the UN General Assembly in December 2009, Rio+20 will examine issues ranging from the political to the operational. On the political front, it will rekindle and heighten political commitment to sustainable development and renew the call for regions and countries to do more to show results. On the operational front, it will assess the progress made since the 1992 Summit, assess gaps in the implementation of commitments, and address new and emerging challenges. Discussions will centre on two key themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The world has come a long way since attention was first drawn to the need to think about the environment and consciously connect the economic, social and environmental components into an integrated development process that is now referred to as sustainable development. Gradually, over the past forty years, global consciousness of and concern for sustainable development have increased enormously in response to the scale of the environmental and social problems that have arisen worldwide as a result of unsustainable development. This concern, which gave rise to A21, PFIA21 and JPOI, has determined the context within which countries must pursue development. While there has been progress towards implementing the commitments made in these frameworks, all the evidence points to the need for countries and regions to do more to achieve sustainable development. The Rio+20 conference is taking place at a time when global and regional development challenges are pushing development strategies to the limits of knowledge and innovation.

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