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.
General Assembly discusses economic approaches for an ethical basis between Humanity and Earth
The Third Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature took place at UN Headquarters on Monday 22 April. This year's discussion focused on different economic approaches to further a more ethical basis for the relationship between humanity and the Earth. Several participants stressed that both a new economic model as well as rights of Nature are necessary for achieving sustainable development.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said we must confront the hard truth that our planet is under threat. “Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources – often driven by greed – is eroding our planet's fragile ecosystems”, said the Secretary-General, pointing to loss of biodiversity, depletion of fish stocks and acidification of oceans.
But he also saw hope, referring to the millions of people around the world who are recognizing this problem as part of a growing movement for sustainable development. ”More and more governments are hearing their calls for action” he said, giving as examples Bolivia, which has adopted a legal framework that specifically protects “Mother Earth”, and Ecuador, whose Constitution recognizes the rights of Nature.
The President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, noted that “as we consume our natural resources at an increasingly faster rate than we can replenish them, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the planet's ability to support our continued existence.” Further information can be found on the Harmony with Nature website.
The Open Working Group on sustainable development goals holds second session
The intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) on sustainable development goals (SDG) called for in the Rio+20 Outcome Document convened its second meeting at UN Headquarters on 17-19 April 2013.
Chaired by the Permanent Representatives of Kenya and Hungary, Macharia Kamau and Csaba Körösi, the session focused on conceptualizing the SDGs and the SDG process and on poverty eradication. The three day session brought together members of the OWG, other Member States, representatives from the UN system and Major Groups.
One of the many points made during the discussion was that any unfinished business regarding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) must be concluded. They should be learned from, built on, and serve as point of departure, said Co-Chair Kamau. And while the SDGs would have to do justice to the complexity of sustainable development and integrate its three dimensions, thereby addressing a significant gap of the MDGs, they should also maintain a key MDG success factor, namely simplicity. The SDGs should be “tweetable”, as one Delegate put it.
The next session of the OWG is scheduled for 22-24 May 2013, and is tentatively set to cover food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, drought, desertification, land degradation and water and sanitation.
Governance experts share thoughts on High-Level Political Forum
An expert group meeting (EGM) to discuss various aspects of the high level political forum (HLPF) was organized by the UN's Division for Sustainable Development at UN Headquarters in New York on 4 and 5 April 2013.
The EGM, at which experts in the area of governance shared their thoughts in seven thematic sessions, was organized to inform decision-makers, UN system and other relevant stakeholders, but was not meant to prejudge or pre-empt the ongoing negotiations on the HLPF in any way.
The significance of effectively integrating the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, environmental – came up in a number of sessions. Participants felt that setting up the HLPF offers a historic chance, but that a number of conditions had to be fulfilled for it to live up to this aspiration.
Among other things, the Forum would have to be provided with sufficient resources and means of implementation, agenda-setting powers, and a meaningful review mechanism. The regional level would need to be involved in its work, the science-policy interface would have to be strengthened, and there should be close cooperation with the economic and financial community. It would also have to engage with various stakeholders, including the UN system, Major Groups, the private sector, the public at large, and different levels of governance. Further information on the meeting and a more detailed summary can be found on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.
Asian leaders embrace a vision of Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution, and Zero Accidents
Participants of the Seventh Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum in Asia, which took place in Bali, Indonesia, from 23-25 April 2013, agreed and adopted the “Bali Declaration on Vision Three Zeros - Zero Congestion, Zero Pollution, and Zero Accidents towards Next Generation Transport Systems in Asia.”
“Vision Three Zeros” calls for zero tolerance towards congestion, pollution and road accidents such that there is continual improvement. Countries are to devise and implement appropriate transport policies, programmes and enforcement measures to protect their citizens, environment and property while strengthening the socio-economic sustainability of the region. It also aims to help bring about a paradigm shift on the role of motorization and mobility in realizing sustainable development.
In his message to the Forum and to the “Global Consultation on Sustainable Transport in the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, which took place along side the EST, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed its effort to fight climate change and achieve sustainable development. “On a global scale, it is essential that we better design and build transport infrastructure to make it safer and more environmentally friendly, and to minimize vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters,” he said. He also stressed that addressing sustainable transport is “essential” for reducing poverty.
The 7th Regional EST Forum in Asia was co-organized by the Indonesian and Japanese governments and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD). It was attended by over six hundred and thirty participants comprising of government representatives from twenty-four countries.
Transfer of Clean Technology to Developing Countries discussed in General Assembly
On 30 April 2013, the United Nations General Assembly convened the first of four full-day workshops that aim at identifying how developing countries can obtain clean, environmentally sound technologies to advance sustainable development.
Among the issues raised in the first workshop were the importance of a systemic and holistic approach to technology transfer to tackle poverty as well as poor nutrition, working with rather than against nature, building on proven local solutions, strengthening institutions and relying on North-South as well as South-South and triangular technology sharing.
The next workshops will take place on 1 May and 30-31 May. They are a direct result of the Rio+20 outcome document, the Future We Want, which called on the General Assembly to identify options for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies by assessing the technology needs of developing countries.
New search interface on Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
As a follow-up to Rio+20, the Secretariat of the Conference – the Division for Sustainable Development within UN-DESA - launched a new web portal in September 2012.
The website, the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, contains nineteen years of normative and analytical work of the Commission on Sustainable Development – a critical historical record that leads us towards the future we want - including information related to several follow-up processes to Rio+20, such as the high-level political forum, sustainable development goals, voluntary commitments/partnerships, green economy, and other thematic areas.
In an effort to ease the access to the sometimes-overwhelming amount of information available, a new Search interface has been developed.
Information can be found using combination of keywords, and search results can be filtered by type of information, as well a range of thematic areas.