Multiple Pathways to Sustainable Development: initial findings from the Global South
In June 2012, twenty years after the landmark Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders gathered
again to re-examine the global environmental agenda at the United Nations conference on Sustainable
The conference concluded with an outcome document entitled “The Future We Want, which recognized
the existence of a number of “different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country,
in accordance with its national circumstances and priorities, to achieve sustainable development”, and
identified Green Economy as an important tool for sustainable development. The outcome document
also recognized the importance of South-South Cooperation, and urged the international community
to support South-South Cooperation to achieve sustainable development.
In February 2013 the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council took note of Rio+20’s
emphasis on the different pathways leading to inclusive and sustainable economies. The Governing
Council acknowledged the plurality of approaches and requested that UNEP “collect such initiatives,endeavours, practices and experiences on different approaches, visions, models and tools including green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and to disseminate them, and facilitate information sharing among countries, so as to support them to promote sustainable development and poverty eradication.
This report serves as a starting point to address the calls from Rio+20 and the Governing Council to share
the South’s various experiences and national-level initiatives for transitioning to sustainable and socially inclusive economies. Four unique national initiatives– all taking place in countries in the South, and at different stages of implementation - are highlighted: Ecological Civilization in China, Sufficiency Economy in Thailand, Green Economy in South Africa, and Living Well in Bolivia.