Summary Of The Second Session Of The Preparatory Committee For The Un Conference On Sustainable Development

Volume 27 Number 03 – Friday, 11 March 2011

SUMMARY OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR THE UN CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

7-8 MARCH 2011

The second session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom II) for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio 2012) convened from 7-8 March 2011 at UN Headquarters in New York. During the meeting, delegates discussed: securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges; a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. Late in the afternoon of the second day, delegates adopted by consensus a decision on the process for the preparation of the draft outcome document for the UNCSD.

Co-Chair Park, in closing the meeting, said the next steps include: making a Co-Chairs’ summary of PrepCom II available by 18 March, the Bureau’s preparation of a zero draft outcome document, five regional preparatory meetings, and events organized by more than 10 countries. As delegates left the North Lawn Building on Tuesday night, they admitted that the road is getting shorter, but they now have a road map to get to Rio for the Conference from 4-6 June 2012.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF UN ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCES

On 24 December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 64/236 agreeing to convene the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio 2012) in 2012 in Brazil. The UNCSD will mark the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference specifically having the word “environment” in its title, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972. The UNCSD will also mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

The UNCSD will seek to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress and implementation gaps in meeting previously-agreed commitments, and address new and emerging challenges. The focus of the Conference includes the following themes to be discussed and refined during the preparatory process: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. Resolution 64/236 also called for holding three Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings prior to the UNCSD.

On 14 May 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang as Secretary-General for the Conference. The UN Secretary-General subsequently appointed Brice Lalonde (France) and Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados) as executive coordinators.

UNCHE: The UN Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 5-16 June 1972, and produced three major sets of decisions. The first decision was the Stockholm Declaration. The second was the Stockholm Action Plan, made up of 109 recommendations on international measures against environmental degradation for governments and international organizations. The third set of decisions was a group of five resolutions calling for: a ban on nuclear weapons tests; the creation of an international databank on environmental data; addressing actions linked to development and environment; creation of an environment fund; and establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the central node for global environmental cooperation and treaty-making.

WORLD COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: In 1983, the UN General Assembly decided to establish an independent commission to formulate a long-term agenda for action. Over the next three years the Commission—more commonly known as the Brundtland Commission after its chair, Gro Harlem Brundtland—held public hearings and studied the issues. Its report, Our Common Future, which was published in 1987, stressed the need for development strategies in all countries that recognized the limits of the ecosystem’s ability to regenerate itself and absorb waste products. The Commission emphasized the link between economic development and environmental issues, and identified poverty eradication as a necessary and fundamental requirement for environmentally sustainable development.

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