Opening the session, Maged Abdelaziz, UNCSD Bureau Vice-Chair, noted that the regional commissions' contributions to the compilation document brought an intergovernmental dimension to the submissions.
Bedřich Moldan, UNCSD Bureau Vice-Chair, noted that this side event was organized because there was no time for the regional commissions to be able to present the results of their meetings during the Second Intersessional Meeting.
15 December 2011: At a side event held during the Second Intersessional Meeting in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), the UN regional commissions presented the outcomes of the regional preparatory meetings, which took place between September and December 2011.
Opening the session, Maged Abdelaziz, UNCSD Bureau Vice-Chair, noted that the regional commissions’ contributions to the compilation document brought an intergovernmental dimension to the submissions. He urged participants at Rio+20 to think 20 years ahead of us, rather than to think of the past 20 years. Bedřich Moldan, UNCSD Bureau Vice-Chair, noted that this side event was organized because there was no time for the regional commissions to be able to present the results of their meetings during the Second Intersessional Meeting. He said the regional commission meetings were very interactive and very few speakers had prepared statements. Representatives from each of the regional commissions then presented the deliberations of the preparatory meetings.
The preparatory meeting organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) developed a Consensus Statement that, inter alia: reaffirms the African countries’ commitment to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); stresses that the transition to a green economy could offer new opportunities to contribute to sustainable development through economic growth, employment creation and reduction of poverty and inequalities; highlights the role of the State in driving the transition to a green economy; underscores the need for an international investment strategy to support and facilitate the transition towards a green economy; calls for an agreement on the global 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10-YFP) to promote sustainable consumption and production (SCP) as a contribution to a green economy; urges countries to establish and revive their national sustainable development strategies and national councils; and reaffirms the role of the ECA in promoting balanced integration of three pillars of sustainable development in the region. This region also included a chapter on means of implementation that underscores gaps in fulfilling international commitments on sustainable development in Africa. The Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20 will be tabled for endorsement by the 18th session of the African Union (AU) Summit, in January 2012, and the ECA is planning to organize an Africa Day during Rio+20.
The preparatory meeting organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) concluded with a Co-Chair’s summary, which was not a negotiated document. On the green economy, participants suggested developing an internationally-agreed green economy road map, with political and action-oriented components and a policy toolbox. This regional also suggested addressing: sustainable consumption and production patterns; the promotion of innovation and new technologies; and social inclusion. There was “quite some support” for upgrading the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and for creating a sustainable development council, as well as for strengthening the regional commissions and national sustainable development councils, and engaging civil society.
The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) considered, inter alia, three proposals: the proposal of Colombia and Guatemala to agree to a process to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs); a proposal of Bolivia regarding the rights of nature; and a proposal of Cuba regarding an institutional framework. Participants at the regional meeting were concerned about protectionism and conditionality that could accompany actions related to a green economy, so this concept is not referenced in the outcome “conclusions” document. This region noted the need for an institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) that is efficient and flexible and ensures the effective integration of its pillars, as well as for changes in patterns of production and consumption. The region also noted the need for better ways to measure a country’s wealth by measuring the three pillars of sustainable development.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) developed a negotiated text in which participants propose that the green economy should facilitate trade and address the three pillars of sustainable development in a synergistic manner. The presenter noted that there has been some confusion between IFSD and the discussion regarding international environmental governance (IEG), and said names of several UN entities should be changed, including the “Economic and Social Council” should be changed to a the “Sustainable Development Council,” and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs should be the Department for Sustainable Development Affairs.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) reaffirmed a number of the Rio Principles, including on occupation, promoted regional integration for achieving sustainable development, and proposed establishing sustainable development networks, among other issues. On IFSD, this region proposed strengthening existing institutions, national councils and regional institutions for sustainable development, and activating existing UN mechanisms and institutions to enhance coordination and reinforce cooperation. On green economy, this region said the concept should not be adopted as a one-size-fits-all option and should not substitute for sustainable development. This region did not make a commitment on IFSD at the global level, and will meet from 21-22 December 2011, in Cairo, Egypt, to further prepare for Rio+20. [IISD RS Sources] [Sustainable Development Policy & Practice Guest Article on Outcomes of Regional Meetings]