In our Rio Reads series of short pieces on achieving a sustainable planet, thinkers and influencers share their visions for the future they want.
- Africa Renewal Sustainability Issue
- Renewed communities through renewable energy
- Ecological and Economic Transformation in Brazil
- One Small Step for a Hippo, but a Giant Leap for Conservation in South Africa
- Parched plains of Iran gain new life
- Brazilian students learn and grow
- A cooking stove that burns well improves lives in Kenya
- In Moldova, a Pilot Project Kindles Popular Interest to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
- Biogas warms up Pacific communities
- South Africa blossoms wind power development
- Full steam ahead to sustainable energy
- Predicting the Unpredictable in Sri Lanka
- Participants at the 56th session of the Commission on the Status on Women share the future they want
- UNEP: Green Economy videos
- UN videos on sustainable development
- Winners of the "Changing Lives" video contest
A Life of Dignity for All
On 25 September, the President of the 68th session of the General Assembly will host a Special Event on the MDGs, during a week of high-level events at UN Headquarters in New York. At the event, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will present to UN Member States his new report on MDG acceleration and the post-2015 development agenda – "A Life of Dignity for All".
"Ours is the first generation with the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty and put our planet on a sustainable course before it is too late", says the Secretary-General, in the report.
Finding sustainable solutions is essential to the UN’s work. Here you will find some of the latest thinking, policy analysis and commentary on sustainability by the UN.
"Our challenge now is to maintain momentum and eliminate barriers to delivering the remaining commitments," Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said in a statement.
According to the study, "The traditional role of agriculture in producing food and generating income is fundamental, but agriculture and the entire food system – from inputs and production, through processing, storage, transport and retailing, to consumption – can contribute much more to the eradication of malnutrition."
A New Global Partnership
The report calls for an ambitious and universal agenda that builds on the successes of the MDGs and promotes sustainable development, good governance, human rights and building institutions. Mr. Ban told the General Assembly, "We are at the beginning of an historic journey." Read the UN News Centre's story.
The Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Soultions Network (SDSN) delivered a report, entitled "The Action Agenda for Sustainable Development," to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report outlines 10 sustainable development priorities, covering the four main dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth and the end of poverty, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and good governance.
"The latest report from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the result of a collaboration between top scientists, technologists, businesses, and development specialists, is a critical input to the work we are doing to shape an ambitious and achievable post-2015 agenda," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
As nearly 870 million people still go hungry, World Food Day highligted the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger. "Owned by their members, they can generate employment, alleviate poverty, and empower poor and marginalized groups in rural areas" said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A report launched by UNEP, in collaboration with IFAD, FAO, WFP, World Bank, warns that the ecological foundations that support food security, including biodiversity are being undermined.
New findings from the FAO's report, 'The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012', shows that progress in reducing hunger during the past 20 years has been better than previously believed. Given renewed efforts, it may be possible to reach the MDG hunger target at the global level by 2015. However, the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment remains high. This year's report also discusses the role of economic growth in reducing hunger. The report underlines that economic and agricultural growth need to be "nutrition-sensitive" in order to lead to better nutritional outcomes for the poor.
Human Development Report 2011
Sustainability is inextricably linked to basic questions of equity — that is, fairness, social justice and greater access to a better quality of life, according to the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2011. The report calls for urgent action to slow climate change, prevent further degradation and reduce inequalities, as environmental deterioration threatens to reverse recent progress in human development for the world's poorest.
Some of the report's findings:
- Over the last 30 years, the countries in the lowest 25 per cent of the Human Development Index rankings improved their scores by a striking 82 per cent, twice the global average.
- If this pace of improvement continues over the next 40 years, most of these countries would achieve standards equal to or better than those now enjoyed by the top 25 per cent.
- But the effects of climate change could derail progress in the world's least developed places.
- Factoring in the projected effects of climate change on weather, food production and pollution, the index's average score drops by 8 per cent worldwide from what would otherwise be predicted - and by 12 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
- A 0.005 per cent tax on foreign exchange trading could raise $40 billion or more every year to fund the fight against climate change and extreme poverty.
- Electricity can be provided to the 1.5 billion people who are now off the power grid in a manner that is both affordable and sustainable, without increasing global carbon emissions by even 1 per cent.
Green Economy Report
The UN Environment Programme’s Green Economy Report demonstrates that green economies are a new engine of growth, generate decent jobs and are vital to eliminating persistent poverty. Some findings:
- Investing just 2 per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product) into ten key sectors — including agriculture, buildings, energy, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, tourism, transport, water and waste management — can kick-start a transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.
- Greening the economy can produce higher growth in GDP and GDP per capita than a business-as-usual scenario within 5 to 10 years.
- In a green economy, global demand for energy is projected to be about 40 per cent lower than under a business-as-usual scenario by 2050, thanks to substantial advances in energy efficiency.
- A green investment scenario is projected to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions by about one-third by 2050 compared to current levels.
- In a transition to a green economy, new jobs will be created, which over time exceed the losses in “brown economy” jobs, particularly in the agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry and transport sectors.
- The move towards a green economy is happening on a scale and at a speed never seen before. For 2010, new investments in clean energy were expected to reach a record high of US$180-200 billion, up from US $162 billion in 2009.
- Global investment in renewable energy is increasingly driven by emerging economies (non-OECD countries), whose share in global investment in renewables rose from 29 per cent in 2007 to 40 per cent in 2008, with Brazil, China and India accounting for most of it.
Global Sustainability Report
The Secretary-General's High-level Global Sustainability Panel Says a future worth choosing must be based on true costs to people and the environment, in its "Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing" report.
Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
Sustainable development goes together with allowing people to broadly engage in development policy making. On the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform you will find some of the latest thinking, policy analysis and commentary on sustainability by the UN. The platform provides in-depth information and knowledge on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which concluded on 22 June 2012, enabling the site visitors to learn more about commitments made by at Rio+20 to promote sustainable development.