Representatives from country coalitions offered statements on behalf of their groups, followed by statements from over 50 member States and representatives from UN agencies and organizations and Major Groups.
25 January 2012: The initial discussions on the “zero draft” of the outcome document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) began on 25 January 2012, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.
Following a brief special meeting of the UNCSD Preparatory Committee, which convened to elect a Vice-Chair for the Bureau, delegates proceeded to present opening comments on the zero draft. Representatives from country coalitions offered statements on behalf of their groups, followed by statements from over 50 member States and representatives from UN agencies and organizations and Major Groups.
Sha Zukang, UNCSD Secretary-General, stressed an ambitious yet practical outcome that equals the magnitude of today’s challenges and reinvigorates political commitment. He suggested addressing, inter alia: how to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs), taking into account national circumstances; and using trade to advance, rather than hinder, green economy. On the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), he said a proposed sustainable development council (SDC) should address the weaknesses of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and expedite implementation. On means of implementation, he emphasized: addressing the role of international financial institutions; exploring innovative financing sources; and South-South cooperation. He underlined that Rio+20 must put us on an “unambiguous course toward sustainable development.” He noted the February 17 deadline for comments and proposals on sections 3, 4 and 5 of the document.
Among the speakers to take the floor, Algeria, for the G-77/China, stated that: funds are insufficient to support developing country participation in all negotiating sessions; a compilation document with all proposals, not a revised co-chairs’ text, should be the outcome of this meeting; and the February 17 deadline for proposals should be extended. He called for, inter alia, an international mechanism to implement actions focused on bridging the technological gap, and examining the impact of intellectual property rights on access to and transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Noting lack of consensus on the definition of green economy, he stressed ensuring social inclusion and equity, and including tools to catalyze international cooperation. He underscored that an effective IFSD should focus on implementing sustainable development and integrating the three pillars. The EU and its member States underlined the importance of public participation in decision making and implementation, and called on member States to remain open to Major Groups.
A number of speakers proposed additional priority issues to be addressed, ranging from desertification to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, to education and scientific research. [IISD RS Coverage of the Consultations]