|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sustainable Development Discussions to Focus on Smart Use of Resources,
Green Economic Growth, at United Nations Headquarters, 3-14 May
Achieving green growth through better management of materials throughout their life cycle will be central to this year’s session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.
The Commission, which will take place in New York from 3 to 14 May, starts a new two-year cycle that will review waste management, transport, chemicals, mining and the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production. It will also discuss sustainable development in small island developing countries.
The Commission will also serve as the launching pad for discussions on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in 2012 (Rio +20), preparations for which will take place immediately following the Commission’s session, from 17 to 19 May.
The eighteenth session of the Commission comes amid growing concerns that present consumer-oriented trends around the world are unsustainable, with potentially damaging impacts on ecosystems, climate, food and water supplies and human health. The Commission will be reviewing ways to assist countries in greening their economies, corporations in developing greener business models and consumers in adopting lifestyles that are more environmentally sustainable.
“Changing unsustainable consumption patterns is critical to maintaining our planet’s ecological balance,” says Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “If we are going to meet the Millennium Development Goals, address climate change and ensure every person is given a fair chance for a better future, we need to seriously change the way we consume the Earth’s resources.”
With the Earth’s present population of 6.75 billion, consumption and production volumes are expected to continue to rise with demographic growth, severely straining ecosystems. Over 60 per cent of the ecosystem services are being degraded or unsustainably used.
But the high rate of resource consumption has not been evenly shared -- 20 per cent of the population in the highest income countries accounted for 77 per cent of total consumption in 2005, while the poorest 20 per cent accounted for only 1.3 per cent.
“Sustainable development requires a transformation of values and principles that directly influence development strategies and lifestyles,” according to Luis Alberto Ferraté Felice, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of Guatemala, and the Commission’s Chair. The meeting, he added, “will serve as the basis for mobilizing political will for identifying concrete policy actions and measures, as well as partnerships to accelerate the implementation.”
Ministers from nearly half of the United Nations Member States are expected to attend the high-level segment of the Commission from 12 to 14 May. Representatives from over 1,000 major groups are also expected to attend the meeting.
The eighteenth session will consider partnerships during its plenary, as well as host the annual Learning Centre, partnership fairs and side events. One day, 10 May, will be devoted to the Small Island Developing States Prep-Com for the review of the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation.
In preparation for the session, the Commission secretariat launched a new thematic seminar series that presented scientific and technical information on the issues under review by the Commission. The seminar series is designed to add value to the Commission process by informing participants about the latest research, data, case studies and challenges that will underpin the discussions during this review session.
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