Achieving sustainable development goals

Achieving sustainable development goals

Calling for a shift from good ideas to focused actions without further delay, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concluded the 18th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-18) on 14 May in New York.

The Secretary-General referred to the 1992 UN conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which sought to recast development and halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and the pollution of the planet. “Few of the challenges identified at the Rio Earth Summit have been adequately tackled”, he told the delegates attending the Commission.

Sustainable Development is among the highest priorities for the Secretary-General in 2010. With the 2012 conference on sustainable development, also known as Rio+20, fast approaching, the United Nations is accelerating momentum to also address new and urgent challenges, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthening the resilience of vulnerable countries and communities.

The Commission on Sustainable Development is the highest political forum within the United Nations for addressing the interlinkages between these challenges.

During its 18th session, the Commission repeatedly warned the world of the dangers ahead. Commission Chairman Luis Alberto Ferraté Felice in a news conference during the first week of the meeting, stressed that the global community must summon the political will to tackle a whole raft of challenges, from mineral extraction to waste recycling to the more than 200 toxic chemicals entering the blood of foetuses. “Quite simply, the world is consuming too much ‘stuff’,” he said.

Despite the great challenges facing the global community, there have been important achievements. Burgeoning consumer awareness of environmental and social issues and several countries pledging carbon neutrality are part of some of the positive changes.

Other key outcomes of the Commission, which ended on 14 May, include moves to ensure strong controls on the rapidly growing ship dismantling industry, progress in developing global recycling guidelines for used computers, and support for enforcing the ban on the export of hazardous waste from developed to developing nations.

As part of his ongoing efforts to support and advance preparations for the “Rio+20” Summit, Mr. Ban announced the appointment of UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang as Secretary-General of the Conference.

The Rio+20 Summit, mandated by the UN General Assembly in 2009, will focus on four areas: review of commitments; emerging issues; green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development; and institutional framework for sustainable development.

The first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for Rio+20 started on 17 May. The committee will discuss the substantive themes of the Conference and pending procedural matters, and will also elect the Bureau of the Conference.

“I wish the preparatory meeting every success as it gathers for its first meeting starting on Monday. In our planning for this landmark event, let us recapture the solidarity and creativity of the Earth Summit”, concluded the Secretary-General.

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