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A moderated e-discussion on Achieving Sustainable Development, jointly organized by the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UNDP, was held 4 February to 14 March 2008 as part of the preparatory process for the Annual Ministerial Review.

Generating 110 responses from experts, practitioners and policy-makers from diverse regions and stakeholder groups, the e-discussion presented a rich array of perspectives and some actionable recommendations for consideration by the Council and the larger international community .

Hosted on MDGNet, the e-discussion was held in two parts:

Part I (4 - 22 February): Overcoming challenges countries face in integrating the goals of economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

  1. What are the main barriers for countries in integrating the objectives of sustainable development, i.e., economic growth, social development and environmental protection, in their development strategies and in the planning and implementation processes of these strategies?
  2. How can various instruments for development planning and assistance frameworks such as National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS), Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) more effectively serve the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development at the national level?
  3. How can our organizations and each of us most effectively support countries in leaning from the practices of those countries that have made significant progress in pursuing the goal of sustainable development?

Part II (25 February - 14 March) Concrete policy initiatives that can help States to achieve sustainable development.

  1. How can the international community ensure that more funding for advancing sustainable development is made available on a predictable basis? What steps by which actors can be taken to facilitate, on a concessional and preferential basis, the transfer of environmentally sound technologies, especially to developing countries?
  2. What specific initiatives can ECOSOC promote to be launched to facilitate realization of the goal of sustainable development? How can we foster human and institutional competencies to execute supportive policies?
  3. How can we promote equity in the distribution of benefits from environmental resources? Is it advisable to promote payment for environmental services? If so, what is/are the most effective way(s) to do so?

The discussion presented an opportunity for the broader development community, in particular those working at the country level, to provide a valuable contribution to the UN intergovernmental process that takes place through the ECOSOC family of organizations. The ideas and recommendations collected were considered for inclusion in the report of the Secretary-General on the AMR, and were made widely available on the internet and at ECOSOC's substantive session in July.