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.
High-Level Political Forum to invigorate action on sustainable development
World leaders inaugurated the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which is to invigorate action on sustainable development, on Tuesday, 24 September. The new Forum will provide political leadership for sustainable development. It is to address new challenges, follow-up and review progress in the implementation of commitments, and work towards development that ensures the well-being and prosperity of the world’s people while protecting the planet.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the HLPF’s establishment as a significant step towards realizing the vision adopted at Rio+20. “The Forum is a key platform for examining today’s challenges in a holistic and integrated manner. It can be the catalyst for a strengthened global partnership for sustainable development, providing political leadership grounded in solid science.” He announced the creation of a Scientific Advisory Board to strengthen the science-policy interface. Addressing the Major Groups, the Secretary-General said “We need your ideas, expertise and leadership.” The forum would engage the full range of sustainable development actors.
General Assembly President John Ashe said that the meeting had confirmed world leaders’ readiness to put poverty eradication and sustainable development at the core of the post-2015 development agenda. He emphasized that the Forum has been afforded the rare opportunity to get things right from the start, because a new institution is a clean slate. “The slate of the HLPF waits for us to write in its purpose and its future. We have the opportunity to set the tone, tenor, scope of action, level of engagement, achievement and productivity for which this Forum will become known. Through our efforts in this Forum we can and must offer our citizens new hope and new solutions,” he said.
The President of Brazil and the Prime Minister of Italy spoke at the opening of the Forum. ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and International Monetary Fund Chairperson Christine Lagarde were also among those addressing the Forum. Discussions also took place in a series of “Leaders Dialogues” that explored the role of the Forum in translating the vision of Rio+20 into action, global partnerships that create jobs and improve sustainable lifestyles, and other issues. Civil society representatives participated in all the discussions.
World leaders put spotlight on Small Island Developing States Conference
“We need to bring more attention to the problems that SIDS face,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a high-level breakfast meeting to raise the visibility of the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
The conference – to be held from 1 to 4 September in Apia, Samoa – will focus global attention on a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities. It will also serve as an important opportunity to galvanize partnerships for action on sustainable development in small island developing States, or SIDS, including on issues such as climate change, oceans, waste, sustainable tourism, and disaster risk reduction.
The host country of the Conference, Samoa, has called for “genuine and durable partnerships” for SIDS, which has been endorsed by SIDS Ministers at the recent inter-regional preparatory meeting in Barbados.
“Many of your countries are isolated. Your markets are too small to realize economies of scale. All small island developing States are exposed to high risks from environmental threats, especially climate change,” Ban Ki-moon noted.
General Assembly President John Ashe said that although vulnerability has long been associated with SIDS, “these countries are not helpless or hopeless. The SIDS conference presents a distinct occasion to address resilience as an opportunity for creativity, innovation and firm commitment from the international community to support the legitimate aspirations of this unique group of countries,” stated Mr. Ashe, who is from Antigua and Barbuda.
Among the leaders who attended the event were the Heads of State or Government of the Independent State of Samoa, Nauru, South Africa, European Commission, and New Zealand, as well as the Secretary-General of the SIDS Conference and UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo.
Global Sustainable Development Report Executive Summary presented at HLPF
At the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo stressed the importance of grounding the Forum’s work in science and scientific findings. He presented the executive summary of the prototype Global Sustainable Development Report aimed at making this happen.
The report by the UN system brings together a wealth of existing sustainable development assessments. A broad range of scientific communities jointly identified key messages. For further details and to provide input, please see
Special event explores urbanization and sustainable development
A Special event on Sustainable Cities and the post-2015 development agenda on 23 September brought together practitioners, local and subnational elected representatives and national governments to review current proposals on urbanization and sustainable development. It identified areas where more technical work is required and also indicated ways to strengthen partnerships for urbanization and rural-urban linkages.
Organized by DESA/DSD, in collaboration with Local Authorities Major Group and Member States of Friends of Cities, the event was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the UN and opened by Foreign Minister Davatoglu of Turkey.
A report on the event was delivered to the HLPF on 24 September by Kadir Tobas, Mayor of Istanbul and Chair of the Union of Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The report calls for a stand alone goal on urbanization in the post-2015 development agenda, with urban targets across the other goals. It also stresses the paramount role of effective decentralization and subnational governments in promoting economic development with jobs and basic services for all, and calls for new urban partnerships.
End of CSD opens new chapter for sustainable development
After promoting sustainable development for two decades, the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) held its last session on Friday, 20th September. The concluding meeting took place just before the inaugural session of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development on Tuesday, 24 September, which has now replaced the CSD.
A bold and new idea that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit, the CSD was the first UN body established to promote and monitor the implementation of sustainable development. It broke new ground by including an array of participants from civil society in its deliberations. The CSD also served as the launching pad for a range of new initiatives, treaties, and organizations aimed at addressing particular issues within the sustainable development agenda.
But over time, participants expressed concern that progress in implementing sustainable development was lagging and that the issue needed to be addressed at a higher level. Therefore, in the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want,” Member States called for the creation of the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development.
Fore more information, including a video summarizing the CSD’s history and video messages from two of its Chairs, please see: http://bit.ly/18XacL9. A short video on the HLPF can be found here: http://bit.ly/18cx3p1