Volume 16, No.05 - May 2012

Global dialogue on development

Voluntary commitments to the Future We Want

Coming generations require us to move towards a sustainable development pathway – today.

The Rio+20 Secretariat welcomes submissions of Voluntary Commitments from all corners of society; Major Groups, the United Nations system, inter-governmental organizations and Member States, in order to reach the Future We Want – and need.

At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other major groups of society, will come together to see how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet, to get to the future we want. 

Visit the Rio+20 website to Commit to the Future We Want:

Last sprint towards Rio+20

Intense negotiations of the Conference’s Outcome document are under way since the 23 April in UN Headquarters in New York. 

Over 130 Heads of State, Vice Presidents, Heads of Government, and deputy Prime Ministers have inscribed on the speakers list for Rio+20.  

In addition, the two main Rio+20 Twitter accounts allowed reaching out more than 16 million people so far, and echoing further through re-tweeting another 110 million. 

On 4 April, Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, briefed members of the UN Economic and Social Council about the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. “Clearly the decisions taken at Rio+20 will have major significance for the post-2015 development agenda,” he said, while mentioning a proposal submitted to the Conference to define Sustainable Development Goals that would complement the successful Millennium Development Goals.  “We are hearing one thing from all stakeholders,” Mr. Sha added. “We need to work towards one UN development agenda, post-2015, with sustainable development at its centre.” 

Rio+20 Host-Country Agreement 

The Host Country Agreement, a legal agreement officially allowing Brazil to host the Rio+20 Conference, was signed on 5 April by Mr. Sha and the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti at the Rio+20 Conference Secretariat.  “Signing this agreement is a major milestone on our way to Rio,” Mr. Sha stated.  “The agreement that we signed today, together with the strong cooperation we have enjoyed with the Government of Brazil throughout the preparatory process, helps pave the way forward for Rio+20 to achieve its potential for setting us on a new path toward a sustainable future — the future we want.” 

Ambassador Viotti said the signing was “a good omen.” She said that “Today we are launching the process. This is the beginning of our engagement with the UN in terms of hosting the Conference. There is goodwill on all sides and we all work together to make sure that the Conference is a success.” 

Counselling and mobilizing business leaders 

A two-day consultation of business and industry, governments and civil society for Rio+20 entitled “Realising Inclusive and Green Growth” attracted 300 participants, mostly business people from both developed and developing countries, on 11 and 12 April in The Hague, The Netherlands. 

Mr. Sha warmly invited business leaders to go to Rio to announce new green initiatives and to persuade the public and policy-makers “that business and industry can help accelerate the pace towards sustainable development.” “We count on you to persuade those companies that are less sensitized, that the sustainable development approach is also a smart business choice,” he also stressed. 

Business and industry are one of the nine Major Groups working for sustainable development and playing an official consultative role in the Rio+20 process.  The other one are women, youth and children, workers and trade unions, scientific and technological community, farmers, indigenous peoples, local authorities and NGOs. 

Declaration of UN system chiefs 

The United Nations System Chief Executives Board (CEB) met on 14-15 April to discuss Rio+20 and adopt an inspiring joint declaration of UN system chiefs about the Conference, which notably states: “Rio+20 must provide the roadmap to the future we want, a future with peace dynamic economic and social development universal social well-being and a healthy and equitable environment for present and future generations where women and men, boys and girls equally contribute to and benefit from development.” 

Harmony with nature 

To mark International Mother Earth Day, the UN General Assembly held an interactive dialogue on harmony with nature on 18 April at UN Headquarters to examine how human activity has affected the regenerative capacity of the planet.  “As we get closer to Rio+20, we must keep the Earth in full view when making decisions and taking actions shifting from a self-centered to an Earth-centered approach,” Mr. Sha told to the participants.  “Our success and wealth must be measured by the balance we create between ourselves and the world around us; that is, by our ability to live in harmony with nature.” 

Intensive negotiations continue 

Critical negotiations on the Rio+20 Outcome Document resumed on 23 April in New York.  The 19-page “zero draft” issued in January was condensed from 6,000 pages of submissions from various stakeholders.  A large number of proposals were  made by governments during intense negotiations in March. The draft was then significantly expanded, bringing the text to over 200 pages.  The revised draft identified 26 critical areas for action, including: water, energy, food, jobs, cities, oceans, disaster preparedness, poverty eradication, tourism, transport, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, lands, chemicals and forests, among others.  The current round of informal negotiations on the Outcome Document is due to continue up to 4 May.

Empowering youth for a sustainable future

Since the onset of the global economic crisis, youth unemployment has increased across the world, affecting both developed and developing countries alike.

This problem poses significant challenges not simply to the youth themselves but also to the capacity of companies and countries to innovate and develop competitive advantages which are critical for economic recovery.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will hold a youth forum, “Creating a Sustainable Future: Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities” on 4 May 2012 at the UN Headquarters, New York City. This event is organized jointly by UN DESA and the UNDepartment of Public Information (DPI). It is part of the preparatory process for the 2012 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), to be held in July on the theme of Promoting Productive Capacity, Employment and Decent Work

The programme will consist of an opening plenary, to be followed by two dialogue classroom sessions on “Training and education to facilitate access to job market” and “Promoting youth employment-Creating jobs for a more sustainable future”. Youth representatives around the world will participate in this event.

Recommendations coming out from the ECOSOC youth forum will be shared with Member States at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to take place in Brazil, in June 2012, and also during the ECOSOC high-level session in July 2012.

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5 years of rights for indigenous people

The 11th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will be held in New York from 7 to 18 May.

This 11th session will focus on “The Doctrine of Discovery”. There has already been extensive discussion on the Doctrine of Discovery, its historical development, past and present impacts, the different ways it has affected or affects indigenous peoples, as well as the relationship between governments and indigenous peoples. This year the Forum will look at ways of redefining indigenous and State relationships as an equally important lens through which to understand the Doctrine of Discovery and work together to build a future on mutual respect, equity and justice.

Discussions on the right to food and food sovereignty for indigenous peoples, as well as the challenges indigenous peoples are facing in the Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia region will be part of the Forum.

On 17 May, there will be a high-level commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This Declaration provides a crucial opportunity to integrate indigenous visions of development into states’ policies and legislative frameworks, as well as into the UN work towards the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). There is a need for indigenous peoples to provide their own holistic definitions of well-being and development with culture and identity. Rio+20 and inclusion of indigenous concepts of relationship with nature, land and natural resources is one of the main current challenges for the world’s indigenous peoples.

The General Assembly has decided to organize a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. The main objective of this Conference  is to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples and to pursue the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A discussion will be held during this 11th session on this World Conference. The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples at all the stages of the process, including the definition of the modalities, is of the outmost importance to ensure its success and sustainability.

For more information: