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Terms of Reference

Background

1.  Increasing strains and crises in recent years point to the deterioration of the natural environment. The changing climate is one key manifestation. We are reaching, and increasingly overstepping, planetary boundaries. Efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals and other social and economic targets are hampered by the inability to agree on decisive and coordinated action in national and multilateral fora. This reveals the weaknesses of our governance structures and our outdated development models. It shows the limits of our current approach, which continues to deal with individual symptoms rather than the causes and their interrelationships. 
 
2. Based on views expressed at the Summit on Climate Change on 22 September 2009 and inspired by the report ‘Closing the Gaps’ prepared by the Commission on Climate Change and Development, the Secretary-General decided to set up a High-level Panel on Global Sustainability to address these issues.

Scope

3. The main objective of the Panel is to reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it. It will address three sets of key issues:

3.1.   New Development Paradigm
    - How to get to a low-carbon/green economy?
    - How to build resilient economies – especially for the most vulnerable?
    - How to eradicate poverty?
    - How to achieve sustainable modes of consumption and production?
    - How to provide for development in a carbon-constrained world?
3.2.    Mechanisms for putting into practice a new development paradigm, including any necessary adjustments to the institutional architecture and financing at the global and national levels.
3.3.    Transparent collection, compilation, assessment and disclosure of relevant data and information by public and private entities, with a view to enabling the above.
 
4.  The Panel will have a special focus on climate change as a sustainable development challenge, addressing its three pillars, namely economic, social and environmental. It will undertake its reflection on and formulation of a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity by assessing strategic solutions to climate change as an example, as an entry point to the management of a global issue/global challenges.   In addition to climate change, other challenges which will be used to develop and test the new vision for sustainable development may include food, water and energy security, as well as poverty reduction.

 Organization of Work

The Panel
 
5. The UN Secretary-General will appoint the Panel members, including the co-chairs. Panel members will serve in an expert capacity and will provide advice to the Secretary-General.  Panel members will include current and past Heads of State and Government, Ministers, as well as individuals who have provided exceptional contributions to the issues dealt with. The membership of the Panel will reflect geographic, competency, political and gender diversity.
 
 
The Secretariat
 
6.  A secretariat will be set up to support the Panel. The UN Secretary-General will appoint the head of the secretariat, who will be accountable to him, while working closely with the Panel co-chairs and members. The Panel and its secretariat will consult widely with governments, intergovernmental processes, UN system entities, as well as individuals, organizations and networks of civil society, academia and the private sector, with a view to collecting information and generating ideas relevant to the work of the Panel. To the extent possible, use will be made of existing mechanisms and occasions for consultation and knowledge-sharing, but the Panel may also initiate its own events and activities, if it deems it necessary. 

Timeline

7.   The Panel will complete its work by publishing its report in December 2011. Three in-person meetings of the Panel will be organized during this period. Additional interactions may be organized by electronic means with varied participation, as appropriate. The Panel may establish working groups led by one or two Panel members to prepare input on specific topics for its consideration.
 
8.  A scaled-down secretariat is expected to continue for an additional six months in 2012 for outreach purposes. Individual Panel members, as appropriate and as possible, may also engage in outreach activities, supported by the secretariat. The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro and the process leading to it will offer exceptional opportunities to promote outcomes.

Outputs

9.   The Panel will publish its analysis and recommendations in its final report. In the course of its work, the Panel will create platforms for discussion to generate input to its work. During the lifespan of the Panel and to facilitate its deliberations, a number of working papers and policy briefs may be prepared and made public as they become available.
 
10. Given the Panel’s special focus on Climate Change, the Panel will seek to prepare such additional policy briefs in ways to best address the climate negotiations process, taking into account its own time schedule.