Far from being a burden, sustainable development is an exceptional opportunity -
economically, to build markets and create jobs; socially, to bring people in from the
margins; and politically, to give every man and woman a voice, and a choice,
in deciding their own future.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
From this continent, the cradle of humanity, we declare, through the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the present Declaration, our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life and to our children.
(Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, para.6)
Who we are
The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development
(DSD) is a part of the United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, located in New York.
The Division promotes sustainable development as the
substantive secretariat to the UN Commission on
Sustainable Development (CSD) and through technical
cooperation and capacity-building at the international,
regional and national levels.
CSD is a high-level forum on sustainable development
which reviews progress and monitors and reports on
implementation of Agenda 21, the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Johannesburg
Plan of Implementation (JPOI) at the national, regional
and international levels. The Commission meets annually,
in New York, in a two-year cycle of review and policy.
1992 | The UN Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED, Earth Summit) (Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil) establishes linkages among economic and social development and environmental protection and adopts
Agenda 21 and the Rio Principles. December 1992 -
The UN General Assembly creates the Commission on
Sustainable Development (CSD) to ensure effective
follow-up to UNCED.
1994 | The Global Conference on Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States
(SIDS) (Bridgetown, Barbados) adopts the BPOA,
which sets forth specific actions and measures for the
sustainable development of SIDS.
1997 | The special session of the General Assembly
Earth Summit + 5 (New York) adopts the Programme
for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21,
including a programme of work of CSD for 1998-2002.
2002 | The World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) (Johannesburg, South Africa)
evaluates obstacles to progress and results achieved
since the 1992 Earth Summit. WSSD adopts the
JPOI, which provides for a more focused approach,
with concrete steps and quantifiable and time-bound
targets and goals.
2005 | At the 10-year review of the Barbados
Programme of Action for the Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States (Port
Luis, Mauritius), States adopt the Mauritius Strategy
for the Further Implementation of the BPOA.
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What we do
As secretariat to CSD, the Division for Sustainable
Development facilitates and manages the CSD process,
including the CSD sessions, the meetings of the CSD
Bureau and other intersessional activities, and it
prepares the reports of the Secretary-General and
background documents for the CSD sessions. In addition
to the engagement of the Member States, key to the
CSD process are the participation of the major groups,
partnerships and the Learning Centre.
Agenda 21 recognizes that broad public participation
in decision-making is one of the fundamental prerequisites
for the achievement of sustainable development,
and identifies specific roles and responsibilities for nine
major groups of civil society: women, children and youth,
indigenous people, non-governmental organizations,
local authorities, workers and trade unions, business
and industry, scientific and technological communities,
and farmers. The Division supports the participation
and contribution of the major groups to the CSD
process and facilitates their interactive participation in
official sessions of CSD.
Partnerships for sustainable development are
voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiatives that contribute to
implementation of internationally agreed sustainable
development goals. More than 200 partnerships were
launched during the WSSD process and the number
continues to grow. Partnerships Fairs at CSD sessions
offer a venue for showcasing progress in existing partnerships,
launching new partnerships and networking
among partners. Partnerships may be registered
through the DSD website.
The Learning Centre provides training on a practical
level on CSD issues. A variety of courses are offered
during each CSD session by distinguished professors
The substantive work of the Division largely corresponds
to the multi-year Programme of Work adopted by CSD
at its 11th session in 2003. Based on two-year cycles
of review and policy years, the current programme of
work extends from 2004 to 2017, and is organized
around clusters of issues.
2004-2005: Water, sanitation and human settlements
2006-2007: Energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change
2008-2009: Agriculture, rural development, land,
drought, desertification and Africa
2010-2011: Transport, chemicals, waste management,
mining and 10-year framework of programmes on
consumption and production patterns
2012-2013: Forests, biodiversity, biotechnology,
tourism and mountains
2014-2015: Oceans and seas, marine resources,
small island developing States, and disaster management
2016-2017: Overall appraisal of implementation of
Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation
of Agenda 21 and the JPOI
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