Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States
20th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-20)
20 September 2013, New York
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are here to bring the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development to a close.
As we prepared for Rio+20 last year, we gave a lot of attention to the shortcomings of the CSD. This critical analysis of the CSD has proven to be very useful. Our efforts to understand the challenges we faced allowed us to envision a way forward. The lessons we have learned will help improve how we organize our efforts at the international level.
Today we should also reflect upon the achievements of the CSD.
First and foremost, CSD has been a unique platform for taking a long view toward the future. Beyond reacting to the crises of the immediate present, the CSD aimed to formulate and implement long-range, visionary policies.
When assessing the Commission’s performance, it is important to appreciate the exceptional breadth and scope of its programme of work. It provided a distinct home for the sustainable development agenda.
Over the years, critical issues such as agriculture, water and energy have been addressed here, in tandem with diverse cross-cutting issues ranging from education and health to finance and technology.
This “cross-pollinating” effect has generated a fertile mix of inter-disciplinary outcomes, actions and policies. Such outcomes have advanced the implementation of sustainable development outside of our UN corridors and conference rooms.
The CSD has given visibility, and indeed impetus, to sustainable development efforts throughout its existence. Political commitment to sustainable development at all levels has expanded as a result of the Commission’s work since 1992, when the concept of sustainable development was formally recognized and placed at the heart of the Rio agenda.
This expansion reflects the growing awareness of the importance and urgency of sustainable development issues.
Perhaps the most lasting legacy of the CSD will prove to be the innovative and inclusive ways in which this intergovernmental body has engaged the voices of its major groups.
Since its creation in 1992, the CSD has been at the forefront of integrating the participation of Major Groups into the intergovernmental process.
The outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference The Future We Want likewise reaffirms that sustainable development requires meaningful involvement and active participation of major groups, and all relevant decision makers in the planning and implementation of sustainable development policies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We shall continue the CSD’s tradition of innovation through the work of the high-level political forum.
How can we ensure the success of this new forum that raises sustainable development to a politically higher level?
I would say that first and foremost, we must build on the strengths and achievements I have just highlighted. This means keeping our commitment to sustainable development high on the global agenda, engaging and partnering with all actors who can help to achieve our goals, and perpetuating a collective sense of ownership and responsibility.
Its agenda should be central to promoting a more integrated discussion of the three dimensions of sustainable development.
To do this, the forum must aim to attract high-level participants from all three areas of sustainable development.
The forum could become a natural platform to follow-up on the Sustainable Development Goals, since they “should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages.”
It is also critical to ensure engagement of all relevant actors in the economic, social and environmental areas around themes that are not discussed in other places, such as Small Island Developing States.
The work of the forum should be supported with a much stronger science-policy interface. The global report on sustainable development mandated in Rio+20 will be critical in this regard.
The high-level political forum must also devote its attention to securing adequate financial resources, which has been identified by many as the most important factor in successfully addressing new and emerging challenges.
The forum should also work in harmony with existing fora, including the General Assembly, ECOSOC, other United Nations system organizations and multilateral environmental agreements.
A strong link to UNEP and other relevant bodies in the economic and social domains should be maintained.
This final session of CSD is a historic moment. You should all be proud to have served in this collective effort to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.
This ending marks a new beginning, as many endings do. I for one am happy to be sharing it with you. Let us celebrate the past while anticipating a bright future ahead.
I wish you all a memorable and enjoyable final interactive discussion of the Commission on Sustainable Development.