Highlighting regional priorities when preparing for Rio+20

Three Rio+20 Regional Preparatory Meetings will take place in October, with the first one in Cairo on 16-17 October; the second in Seoul on 19-20 October; and third in Addis Ababa on 20-25 October

The General Assembly has decided that in preparation for Rio+20, there will be regional preparatory meetings, stressing the importance of having effective preparations at the local, national, regional and international levels by governments in collaboration with the UN system, to ensure high-quality inputs without placing undue strain on Member States.

Regional Preparatory Meeting in the Arab Region, ESCWA and partners

The Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting aims to support Arab preparations for Rio+20 by offering a forum for deliberation and consensus building on a consolidated set of issues and priorities that reflect the Arab vision on the objectives and themes to be addressed at Rio+20. The meeting is organized as a collaborative effort between ESCWA, the League of Arab States and UNEP/Regional Office for West Asia.

Government representatives from the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development are invited to participate in the meeting. Regional organizations engaged in Rio+20 preparations at the Arab regional level are also welcome to participate and share their experiences, including United Nations and League of Arab States specialized agencies, financial institutions, civil society, private sector, and academic institutions.

Regional Preparatory Meeting for Asia Pacific Region, ESCAP

The Asian and Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will take place at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul. It is being hosted by the Republic of Korea, and organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Asian Development Bank.

The meeting will prepare an Asian and Pacific Statement to the UNCSD, and will also help to build the capacity of regional actors to participate in the global process. It will result in a greater awareness of the unique challenges that face the Asian and Pacific region, the progress made by countries of the region, and the potential contributions from the region to the global debate.

Delegates will review background documents that will cover the progress on implementation of commitments to sustainable development and Asian and Pacific perspectives on the theme of green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and on the theme of the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Ministerial Segment of the Africa Regional Preparatory Conference for Rio+20

The ministerial policy dialogue will comprise three plenary sessions, addressing the objective and themes of Rio+20. Each session will be guided by summary reports on the subjects to be considered. The discussions will be opened by brief presentations on key findings and conclusions, highlighting the main issues arising and recommendations of the expert segments to guide the Ministerial policy dialogue.

For each session, three Ministers will be invited to intervene, taking into account gender and language considerations and geographical representation. Responses will then be invited from one representative of civil society organizations and one representative of the private sector. Following this, the floor will be opened for general discussions.

The Ministerial policy dialogue will address the following issues:

  • Progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, and new and emerging challenges;
  • Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development; and
  • Bridging the implementation gap

For more information: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=26

Year to highlight roles of cooperatives

On 31 October, the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) will be launched

The UN General Assembly (GA) will launch the International Year of Cooperatives (2012) at the General Assembly Hall on 31 October in New York. DESA is working on preparing for the event together with the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC).

The year will be inaugurated by two days of activities in and around the United Nations headquarters in New York, beginning with a roundtable discussion on 31 October, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, on the theme “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World: Contributions to Sustainable Development“.

The official ceremony will then take place at 3:00 pm that same day in a General Assembly plenary session, with the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly formally launching the International Year of Cooperatives.

The Launch aims to increase public awareness about cooperatives and their contributions to socio-economic development and the achievement of the MDGs, and to promote the formation and growth of cooperatives worldwide. Member States, observers, organizations of the United Nations system, Cooperatives and Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council are invited to participate in the IYC launch.

For more information:

International Year of Cooperatives (IYC): http://social.un.org/coopsyear/

IYC Global Launch: http://social.un.org/coopsyear/global-launch.html

Details on how Cooperatives and NGOs can attend: http://social.un.org/coopsyear/ngosparticipation.html

Cause for persons with disabilities makes great strides

The Fourth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held in New York on 7-9 September

The conference discussed the implementation of the Convention (CRPD), along with other governments, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, including organizations of persons with disabilities. Over 600 attendees participated in this session that was held under the theme: “Enabling Development, Realizing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through Participation, Employment and International Cooperation.” The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 and came into force in 2008. Currently, there are 104 ratifications of the CRPD and 153 signatories.

The conference was opened by high-level dignitaries and senior UN officials, including the Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migrio. At the opening, Ms. Migrio said, “You and I and millions of others know, that when we respect the inherent dignity of persons with disabilities, we enrich our human family,” a common theme that resounded throughout the conference, that enabling and including persons with disabilities in society and development benefits all of humanity.

The event included a high-level segment and a general debate, two roundtables entitled “Realizing the CRPD through international cooperation” and “Ensuring effective and full participation in political and public life”, an informal meeting entitled “Realizing the right to work”, as well as an “Interactive dialogue on the implementation of the Convention”. During the high level segment, there were more than 60 States inscribed for the speakers’ list, including 10 ministerial-level participants.

The first round table on “Realizing the CRPD through international cooperation”, discussed key issues concerning article 32 of the CRPD, reaffirming and underlining the important role of international development cooperation in promoting disability-inclusive development and advancing the rights of persons with disabilities. The panel noted that a new aid architecture was emerging at the global level, allowing developing countries to set their own development priorities. The discussion also covered the mainstreaming of disability through enhancing partnerships within private and public sectors and also between the UN and other stakeholders, including organizations of persons with disabilities.

During the second round table entitled “Ensuring effective and full participation in political and public life”, panelists discussed key issues, identified progress and barriers and made strategic recommendations to realize disability-inclusive and accessible political processes including elections. Among the key issues argued was the lack of physical accessibility that continued to remain a major barrier to the full and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities in political and public life. Participants noted that a full realization of the CRPD would ensure that persons with disabilities, including persons with psycho-social or intellectual disabilities would not be deprived of their access to the political process.

An informal meeting on “Realizing the right to work and employment” was also held. Panelists noted that persons with disabilities were twice as likely to be unemployed than their peers without disability. They discussed the need for comprehensive reforms to ensure accessible labour markets and noted that a major barrier against a fully inclusive labour market was the lack of firm policy framework against discrimination, without which accessibility would not be enforced; education would not be effectively provided; and job opportunities would not be made available for persons with disabilities.

UN system organizations presented their efforts during the “Interactive dialogue on the implementation of the Convention” and showed how their programmes had been used to implement the CRPD in countries and regions around the world. They highlighted the role played by their organizations in fostering collaboration among national Governments, UN entities and civil society to further the promotion and implementation of the CRPD. UN Regional Commissions also participated via videoconference from Santiago (ECLAC), Jordan (ESCWA) and Addis Ababa (ECA).

In closing, Chair Mårten Grunditz, UN Ambassador to Sweden and Chairman of the conference, stressed that the conference had made clear that universal ratification of the Convention and the Optional Protocol is within reach and indeed a necessity, given that over a billion persons live with a disability in the world. There could be no progress on internationally agreed development goals without integrating a disability perspective in all development efforts. International cooperation could and must be a catalytic force to make those efforts inclusive. The conference has equally shown that participation of persons with disability in the labour market and in public and political life are essential features of inclusive development. The CRPD will continue to be pivotal to ensure enabling development and enjoyment of human rights by all.

A day prior to the opening of the conference, a Civil Society Forum was organized by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) with the support of DESA, focusing on the planned high level meeting on disability and development to be held next year at the 67th session of the General Assembly.

More than 40 side-events were organized by governments, regional and sub-regional governmental organizations, UN system organizations, academic institutions, international and bi-lateral development agencies, and national human rights institutions, as well as NGOs and organizations of persons with disabilities.

For more information: