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.

UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group proposes sustainable development goals

The UN General Assembly's Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals forwarded to the Assembly its proposal for a set of Goals that consider economic, social and environmental dimensions to improve people’s lives and protect the planet for future generations at the conclusion of the Group’s thirteenth and final session at UN Headquarters on Saturday, 19 July. With most targets of the Millennium Development Goals concluding at the end of 2015, proposed new goals set the stage for an ambitious future development agenda.

The proposal contains 17 goals with 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

As stated by UN Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, “The proposal of the Open Working Group brings together a breadth of economic, social and environmental issues in a single set of goals like never before. All those involved in crafting these 17 goals can be proud of themselves. Member States have shown a determination and willingness to work together for people and planet that bodes well for the General Assembly's negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.”

In commenting on the outcome, UN DESA’s Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Gass hailed it as a milestone, highlighting the key role played by the Co-Chairs Ambassador Csaba Kőrösi of Hungary and Ambassador Macharia Kamau of Kenya, the high-level engagement of Member States and the

The proposed sustainable development goals are:

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

From Millennium Development Goals to sustainable development goals

World leaders have called for an ambitious long-term sustainability agenda to succeed the MDGs. The new agenda must address the unfinished business of the MDGs, beginning with the eradication of extreme poverty. Building on the successes of the MDGs, it will also need to address pressing global sustainable development challenges like environmental degradation and promote sustained and inclusive economic growth in poor countries if poverty eradication is to be irreversible.

The Group’s proposal on goals will be considered by the General Assembly as part of the broader post-2015 development agenda that world leaders are expected to adopt at a Summit in September 2015.

The High-level political forum demonstrates its potential

The meeting of the High-level political forum (HLPF) 2014 on sustainable development was successfully held from 30 June to 9 July at UN Headquarters in New York. It was the Forum’s first substantive meeting under the auspices of ECOSOC. More than 30 ministers and high level officials from governments, UN agencies and other international organizations, major groups, the private sector, parliamentarians, and other stakeholders attended the meeting.

Though the discussions at the Forum highlighted how much work still needs to be done on a large number of issues, there was also optimism. “There is unprecedented awareness of the need to change our development models and a possibility to end extreme poverty by 2030,” said ECOSOC President Martin Sajdik, who chaired this year’s Forum. He also noted that there is “a broad acceptance that consumption and production must become more sustainable.” The dialogues had shown that many countries are already putting in place innovative policies to pursue sustainable development, and that the business sector and other stakeholders are committed to playing their part.

The Forum adopted both a Ministerial Declaration and its theme for 2015: "Strengthening integration, implementation and review - the HLPF after 2015”. The meeting comprised a series of dialogues around four tracks of themes “From Rio+20 to post-2015”, “Regional dimensions and countries in special situations”, “Science policy interface”, and “Shaping the forum beyond 2015”.

Participants highlighted the importance of implementation, integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, political will and concrete actions in achieving sustainable development. They also provided valuable thoughts on the sustainable development goals, the post-2015 development agenda, and the role of the HLPF in implementation, monitoring and review of the future g¬¬¬oals and targets.

Science-policy interface was also acknowledged as an important factor, including by the presentation of the Prototype Global Sustainable Development Report. The report brings together existing sustainable development assessments and provides governments with an idea of how future Global Sustainable Development Reports could be shaped. Member States discussed scope and methodology of the report based on the synthesis of their views done in the Secretary-General’s report and most of them favoured a wide multistakeholder approach.

More than 30 side events sponsored by Governments, UN system and other international organizations as well as major groups were held during the HLPF.

“The meeting we are closing today has already demonstrated the great potential of the Forum. I believe that its outcome and discussions will contribute to the negotiations on the post 2015 development agenda that will start very soon” said ECOSOC President Martin Sajdik at the closing session of this year’s Forum.

Proposal on effective sustainable development financing strategy options to be finalized in August

The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF), established a year ago in follow-up to Rio+20, will hold its fifth and final session in New York from 4 to 8 August 2014. During the session, the Committee will finalize its report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy. A multi-stakeholder dialogue will be held during the session.

The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF), established a year ago in follow-up to Rio+20, will hold its fifth and final session in New York from 4 to 8 August 2014. During the session, the Committee will finalize its report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy. A multi-stakeholder dialogue will be held during the session.

The Committee had an informal retreat in Glen Cove, Long Island, from 15-17 July 2014. During the retreat, Committee members had a discussion on the current draft report and made significant progress to strengthen its final version. Following the retreat, the Co-Chairs of the Committee held an open briefing on the progress of work of the Committee to Member States and non-state actors on Friday, 18 July (Financing for Development Office).

Empowering youth for sustainable islands

With less than two months until the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa on 1-4 September, Conference Secretary-General Wu Hongbo brought together youth representatives from small island nations for a Google+ Hangout on 24 July 2014. Under the topic, ‘Samoa 2014: Empowering Youth for Sustainable Islands’, young people from Mauritius, Barbados and Samoa were invited to discuss with Mr. Wu, issues of importance to achieve sustainable islands and a healthier planet.

“The voices and input of youth are critical for the upcoming Conference in Samoa, as well as for the ongoing work to shape and drive forward progress towards the post-2015 development agenda,” Mr. Wu said ahead of the hangout event. Young people representing all three SIDS regions - the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the AIMS (Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea) regions – took part.

The hangout, which lasted more than an hour, touched upon many issues of importance for youth in SIDS, including capacity building, awareness raising, quality education and employment opportunities. Mr. Wu expressed his appreciation for this exchange. “I think many of the areas which they covered are very important,” he said. “I heard several times that partnerships were mentioned,” Mr. Wu added, referring to the fact that genuine and durable partnerships will be the main theme of the conference.

Major Groups and other Stakeholders Forum on partnerships for SIDS

As part of the preparations for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to take place in Apia, Samoa on 1-4 September 2014, the Pre-Conference Major Groups and Other Stakeholders Forum will be held on the evening of the 28 and all day on 29 August 2014. The Forum will focus on identifying durable partnerships through which the sustainable development of SIDS can be promoted. The outcome of the Forum will help to inform the Conference plenary discussions and Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Dialogues.

The aim of the Forum is to provide a space for Major Groups, civil society and other stakeholders to receive final briefings on the upcoming conference, its relation to Rio+20, Post 2015, UNFCCC, Beijing+20 review and other upcoming regional and global multilateral follow-up processes, and to participate in joint advocacy and partnerships to support implementation of the Conference outcome. Registration to the Forum closed on July 31st.

Dialogue on possible arrangements to enhance technology facilitation

The fourth structured dialogue of the General Assembly on possible arrangements for a facilitation mechanism to promote the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies took place on Wednesday, 23 July 2014, at UN headquarters in New York.

The Dialogue covered the following issues:

  • Areas of agreement or convergence regarding possible modalities and organization of a technology facilitation mechanism to promote the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies;
  • Assessing the contribution of multilateral and regional financial and development institutions and of public-private partnership to technology facilitation;
  • Linkages with the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda;
  • Linkages with other areas of means of implementation, promoting synergies and effectiveness.

United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
United Nations