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Workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development Planning and Implementation
Since the Rio Summit of 1992, Integrated planning for, and implementation of, national sustainable development strategies have remained challenging. Member States noted this challenge by recognising in the Rio+20 Outcome Document the inadequacy of sector-based strategies, and called for “holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development” (paragraph 40) and the “need for more coherent and integrated planning and decision-making at the national … level” (paragraph 101).

To “provide leadership and guidance” (paragraph 2) in addressing the complex challenges of achieving sustainable development, “a new multilateral governance architecture” was created: the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. At its first inaugural meeting in July 2014, the HLPF highlighted the “intrinsic interlinkage between poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development,” … and … “underline[d] the need for a coherent approach that integrates in a balanced manner the three dimensions of sustainable development”: economic, social and environment. One of the primary tasks of the HLPF is to review and follow-up on sustainable development commitments and objectives in an integrated and holistic manner which, from 2016, will include conducting national reviews of implementation progress of both developed and developing Member States. Nevertheless, information pertaining to the progress accomplished by Member States since 2012 and the associated real-world evidence-based success stories is lacking from official documents and the broader literature. Such information could be useful for examination at the next HLPF meeting in mid-2015.

On the other hand, notable progress has been achieved among many Member States in designing and adopting national SD strategies and plans which integrate environmental, social and economic dimensions and recognise their inter-linkages. Despite this progress, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) Synthesis of National Reports for Rio+20 in 2012 underscored the lack of significant implementation of such plans and strategies, citing major problems with integration, inclusion, and coherence. The focus remains on economic growth and poverty reduction, while integration of other social and environmental considerations often lags behind.

Experience over the last two decades has demonstrated the inadequacy of sectorial and silo-based planning approaches to address complex global and national SD challenges whose interdependencies and inter-linkages transcend individual sectors and national borders. National governments are now faced with developing and implementing strategies, plans and policies that target systemic transformation and stabilisation. This demands the acknowledgement and a better understanding of the dynamic interdependence and interconnectedness of numerous complex systems and sub-systems — such as water, energy and ecosystems — and the impacts and changes they will undergo from various future threats, including climate change.

While many of the solutions, methods and tools already exist, several institutional architectures, performance targets and metrics, budgeting processes, and accountability and enforcement mechanisms, are not conducive for an integrated systems approach. This, coupled with conflicting interests, insufficient human capital and institutional capacity to adopt an integrated systems approach, are the underpinning causes for uneven implementation of SD commitments and plans, and critical obstacles for achieving SD goals.

It is against this background that the UN-DESA Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) is holding a workshop on Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development Planning and Implementation as part of its follow-up programming Key Priority 1 for Advancing Sustainable Development: "Strengthening institutions and governance systems and building capacities for … integrated planning and implementation". The workshop aims at bringing countries together to share their experiences on integrated planning. The outcome of the event will also constitute a potential input to the third HLPF meeting. It will build upon the previous workshop and final report on “Mainstreaming Sustainable Development in National Development Strategies” held in October 2013, as well as the two synthesis reports: i) Synthesis of National Reports for Rio+20; and ii) Synthesis of Energy-Related Issues Highlighted in National Reports of Rio+20.

Target Audience:

Participants will consist of a wide spectrum of key stakeholders, including senior and mid-level technical government officials; representatives from Major Groups; civil society and academia; and United Nations Country Team members and other relevant international organizations staff. Participants from both developing and developed countries will be invited in order to ensure the representation of diverse experiences and broad knowledge sharing, while encouraging discussions around implementation issues.