The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) of the UN Department for Economic and Social Development (DESA) hosted an online panel discussion as part of its ongoing follow-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).
12 February 2013: The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) of the UN Department for Economic and Social Development (DESA) hosted an online panel discussion as part of its ongoing follow-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The event took place on Google+ Hangout and featured four UN and civil society experts: Nikhil Seth, DSD Director; Elizabeth Thompson, Rio+20 Executive Coordinator; Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI, International Institute for Sustainable Development Reporting Services (IISD RS); and Jacob Scherr, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Seth said Rio+20 resulted in consensus on the need to re-think development, and a recognition that people and the planet are equally important. He also highlighted youth as architects of the future, and the over 700 voluntary commitments made at Rio+20. Thompson identified agreement to organize a UN conference for small island developing States (SIDS) in 2014 as an important Rio+20 outcome. She highlighted SIDS-specific challenges, including increased vulnerability to climate change, natural disasters and rising sea levels. She also stressed the importance of oceans and the blue economy, sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, water and sanitation and capacity building for SIDS.
Goree described the evolution of NGO involvement from “Rio+0” to Rio+20. He highlighted IISD’s role in providing real-time information on Rio+20 negotiations and side events, and explained how IISD continues to track follow-up negotiations, including the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 process. Scherr highlighted voluntary commitments as the real legacy of Rio+20, and noted specific “transformative” commitments, such as multilateral development bank investments in urban transportation, and commitments by manufacturers and retailers to make their supply chains deforestation-free. He described NRDC’s “Cloud of Commitments” as a platform for discussion on a new sustainable development architecture.
Participants asked questions about, inter alia: progress on the SDGs; the role of civil society in follow-up processes; the impact of the global financial crisis; and social media. Seth said the post-2015 process emphasizes engagement from the ground up, in contrast to the top-down process of developing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thompson described the potential of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative to engage citizens and spread understanding of sustainable development.
This event was the first in a series of Google+ Hangouts that DSD plans to convene on sustainable development. [Google+ Hangout on “Sustainable Development in Action” Information and Video] [Registry of Voluntary Commitments] [Cloud of Commitments] [Higher Education Sustainability Initiative Information]