Sustainable Development in the 21st century (SD21)
Documents
  • SD21 Summary for policymakers

Objectives and Goals

The overarching objective of the project is to construct a coherent vision of sustainable development in the 21st century, which will contribute to the success of the Rio+20 conference. The project, funded by the European Commission - Directorate-General for Environment, aims to provide a high quality analytical input to the Rio+20 conference.

    The specific objectives of the project are the following:

  • Prepare a substantive contribution to the debate in the UNCSD in 2012, which takes stock of the changes having occurred since the Earth Summit in 1992 and provide a clear vision and way forward for the international community, national governments, partnerships and other stakeholders in implementing the sustainable development agenda in an integrated manner.
  • Construct a coherent vision on sustainable development in the 21st century and analyse feasible pathways to sustainability.
  • Synthesize analytical and applied policy work regarding menus of policy options for a more sustainable, green growth that consider the specific economic, social, environmental and institutional context of countries in different stages of economic development.

Background

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which will gather UN member states and other stakeholders in Brazil in 2012, is a key occasion to take stock of 20 years of action at all levels to promote sustainable development, and to provide a clear vision and way forward for the international community, national governments, partnerships and other stakeholders in implementing the sustainable development agenda in an integrated manner.

Knowledge must inform action - knowledge of what has and has not worked for sustainable development in the past 20 years, knowledge as well of important changes and new challenges that have emerged in the past generation. Only on this basis can we develop a clear vision of sustainable development for the 21st century. That vision needs to incorporate and build upon the rich output of various global assessments - including climate change, water, energy, and ecosystems - as well as the policy lessons from experience, respond to the evolving nature of the challenges, and draw upon the latest research on integrating sustainability and development into a common agenda. It also needs to recognize and motivate the contribution of all inhabitants of planet earth.

The SD21 project is built around a series of studies that will inform a synthesis report, "Sustainable development in the 21st century" (SD21). The SD21 body of studies is expected to become an important analytical and political contribution in its own right. Studies under the SD21 project will cover the following topics: assessment of progress since the Earth Summit; emerging issues ; long-term sustainable development scenarios; tools for managing sustainable economies; national and international institutions for sustainable development; and sector assessments.

Project approach

The approach to SD21 was based on the idea that for sustainable development to progress, its political nature has to be recognized. SD21 reports expose different views regarding how sustainable development should be pursued and how specific issues should be addressed. The aim is to forge a better understanding and help overcome the current gridlock on the most divisive issues. SD21 provides an empirical basis and a frame of analysis to better understand much of today's work on the key issues of sustainability.

SD21 Summary for policymakers available on top right side.
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