New United Nations Report Urges Accountability Framework as Voluntary Commitments Galvanize Action for Sustainability

15 July 2013

New United Nations Report Urges Accountability Framework as Voluntary Commitments Galvanize Action for Sustainability

15 July 2013
Press Release
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

New United Nations Report Urges Accountability Framework as Voluntary

Commitments Galvanize Action for Sustainability


New Tracking Registry L ists 1,382 Pledges Estimated at More than $636 Billion

An impressive list of commitments made by Governments, the private sector and philanthropies at the Rio+20 and other international forums have galvanized a wide range of interests into action on sustainable development, according to a new United Nations report launched today, which says the commitments are starting to show results.

Issued by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the report, “Voluntary Commitments & Partnerships for Sustainable Development”, found that an array of thematically driven action networks, particularly on health, education, energy, transport, cities and green-economy policies, have proved useful in driving commitments, inspiring new partnerships, building capacity and aligning common goals in the drive towards “The Future We Want”, to which the outcome document from the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development aspires.

“I am encouraged by the more than 700 concrete commitments registered at the Conference, from Governments, business, industry, financial institutions and civil society groups, amongst others,” said United Nations Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon.  Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, stressed:  “Voluntary commitments and partnerships are important contributions that are strengthening the implementation of sustainable development everywhere by allowing people from all parts of society to contribute.”  He added:  “Partnerships and voluntary commitments complement but do not substitute for Government responsibilities and inter-governmentally agreed commitments.”

A new Sustainable Development in Action registry launched to catalogue the 730 commitments made at the June 2012 Rio+20 Conference has now reached 1,382 commitments, valued at about $636 billion.  The report say that while many of them are for projects that will take several years to realize, the commitments represent a sizable amount in global terms and are equivalent to nearly 1 per cent of the gross world product of about $70 trillion.

At Rio+20, Member States welcomed the voluntary commitments to implement concrete policies, plans, programmes, projects and actions to promote sustainable development and poverty eradication.  The Rio+20 outcome document calls on the Secretary-General to compile the commitments into an Internet-based registry that makes information about them fully transparent and accessible to the public.

The report urges the adoption of a voluntary accountability framework to provide a positive incentive for all stakeholders involved in the implementation of sustainable development.  It says the framework could provide valuable additional feedback from the front lines of sustainable development in action, and eventually also play a role in the implementation of the post-2015 development framework.  It calls for commitments that are “SMART” ‑ Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Resource-based and Time-bound.

Among the largest monetary commitments are the $175 billion pledged by eight multilateral development banks for sustainable transport over the next 10 years; $100 billion for scaling up access to energy and renewable energy sources in Africa through the Sustainable Energy for All initiative; scaling up to $63 billion efforts to achieve significant results in maternal and child health and family planning through the “Every women, every child” initiative; and $61 pledged by the Global Environment Facility to implement a range of Rio+20 directives.

While 2015 is the most common target year for delivering on commitments, the report finds that many commitments are already producing results.  In the case of one commitment on sustainable transport, for example, a detailed tracking system was able to determine that implementation of the voluntary commitment saved 0.85 billion hours of travel time, served 4.5 billion person-trips, avoided 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and saved 1,062 lives.

The report can be found at  The Sustainable Development in Action registry can be found at

For interviews and more information, contact Dan Shepard, Department of Public Information, +1 212 963 9495, or

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.