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.
Commitments to improve energy access for rural areas announced at Global Conference
A number of commitments to help bring modern and reliable energy services to impoverished rural communities were announced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN DESA and several other Stakeholders at the “Global Conference on Rural Energy Access: A Nexus Approach to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication”, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 4 to 6 December 2013.
The commitments were made as a contribution to the 2014 – 2024 UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. The main theme of the Conference, which was organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), UN-Energy and the Economic Commission for Africa, was the essential role that access to energy services has for enabling sustainable development and poverty eradication. Over 250 participants from 40 countries attended the Conference.
Participants agreed that lack of clean, affordable, reliable energy is at the heart of a range of interconnected problems faced by the energy poor in rural areas. Discussions therefore focused on a nexus approach to sustainable energy, which acknowledges the strong link between energy and other development factors such as education, health, gender, environment, economic growth, food security, and water, and seeks to address these in a holistic way.
An exhibition, at which 25 organisations displayed renewable energy technologies that enable affordable, clean energy, was an integral part of the Global Conference. The exhibition demonstrated that advanced “clean” cook stoves and stand-alone electric generation systems, which are practical, reliable and durable, are both widely available and affordable. A summary of the Conference discussions, recommendations and further information can be found on the Conference webpage on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.
Means of implementation for future SDGs discussed by Open Working Group
The sixth session of the Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development goals concluded on 13 December after five days of discussions. In their closing remarks, the Co-Chairs of the OWG, the Permanent Representatives of Hungary and Kenya, highlighted some of the views expressed during the session.
They said there had been broad agreement that ambitious goals could not be set without considering how they will be achieved and what it will need in terms of political will, capacities, institutions, resources and other factors. Many parties called for defining means of implementation for each goal that is proposed. Science, technology and innovation were seen as imperative for future SDGs.
Several African countries mentioned that industrialization, diversification, and structural transformation must be promoted to increase employment and broaden the tax base in their countries. Small Island Developing States called for stronger international action to tackle climate change. Land-locked developing countries asked for international assistance to support them in regards to the high costs of market access.
There was agreement among the members of the OWG that human rights and fundamental freedoms are essential for everyone to lead a life in dignity. Many called for the right to development to be clearly and centrally reflected in the post-2015 development framework.
Major Groups and other Stakeholders engaged actively with the OWG. Major Groups representatives attended the session as official observers, and the Co-chairs met with them every morning for a one-hour session. A summary of the sixth session of the Open Working Group and further information is available on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.
The Open Working Group convened again for its seventh session from 6 to 10 January 2014. Sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport, sustainable consumption and production, climate change and disaster risk reduction were among the topics discussed.
Scientists and experts highlight importance of national sustainable development assessments
The “High-level Expert Group Meeting for the Global Sustainable Development Report 2013 – Engaging National Assessments” took place from 12 to 13 December in Beijing, China. It brought together 70 scientists and experts from more than 20 countries who discussed how research findings and analytical perspectives from national sustainable development reports and related assessments can contribute to the Global Sustainable Development Report, which in turn will inform the deliberations of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development.
Many participants thought that national and regional sustainable development assessments are important inputs for the Global Sustainable Development Report. Most expressed the need to consider the creation of a working group or advisory group to guide the preparation of future editions of the UN Global Sustainable Development Report. The group could include science and technology focal points nominated by each national Government.
Some expressed the need to draw on the wider range of global modelling and scenario analysis capabilities, in order to assess various sets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pathways toward their achievement, including in terms of technology and financing needs. Scenarios could also help interpret progress towards SDGs, once they are agreed.
Many experts highlighted the importance for future editions of the Global Sustainable Development Report to take into account various types of knowledge, beyond peer-reviewed knowledge, and to consider the full range of perspectives, especially those of scientists in developing countries. A Chair Summary of this meeting reviewed by participants can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. It was co-sponsored by UN-DESA and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China.
The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF) held its second session in early December at UN Headquarters in New York. While the session was closed, reserved to the Committee, an interactive multi-stakeholder dialogue was organized to have an exchange of views between the Committee and Major Groups. A summary of the meeting, which includes key points relating to procedures and some highlights from the substantive discussions, can be found online.