Rio+20 Panel Calls for Creating Sustainable Development and Low-Carbon Prosperity For Sustainable Planet

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Rio+20 Report Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing

The upcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development for low-carbon prosperity and a sustainable planet sent out a blueprint with 56 recommendations yesterday in the Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing report just released.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called for action on a new blueprint for creating a sustainable planet, a just society and a growing economy, stressing that the current path will not lead to a fair and resilient future for the world’s people. He stated: “We need to chart a new, more sustainable course for the future, one that strengthens equality and economic growth while protecting our planet. Sustainable development offers our best chance to change course.”

Speaking at the launch in Addis Ababa of the report prepared by his High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, Mr. Ban stressed that sustainable development is a top priority for his second term of office prior to the upcoming Rio+20 conference.

“Sustainable development is a social, economic and environmental imperative,” he stated. “I call on all sectors of society to join in this effort. We need everyone – government ministers and policymakers, business and civil society leaders, and young people – to work together to create a future worth choosing – a future we want.”

The 22-member panel, established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity, was co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma for the upcoming Rio+20 conference.

The group’s final report, Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing, contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to make it a part of mainstream economic policy as quickly as possible.

“Today our planet and our world are experiencing the best of times, and the worst of times,” states the report. “The world is experiencing unprecedented prosperity, while the planet is under unprecedented stress.”

It adds that because of the array of overlapping challenges the world faces, it is more urgent than ever to take action to embrace the principles of the sustainable development agenda. “It is time that genuine global action is taken to enable people, markets and governments to make sustainable choices.”

The report calls for integrating social and environmental costs in how the world prices and measures economic activities. It also calls for a set of sustainable development indicators that go beyond the traditional approach of gross domestic product (GDP) and recommends that governments develop and apply a set of “Sustainable Development Goals” that can mobilize global action and help monitor progress.

It underscores the importance of science as an essential guide for decision-making on sustainability issues. It calls on the Secretary-General to lead efforts to produce a regular Global Sustainable Development Outlook report that integrates knowledge across sectors and institutions, and to consider creating a science advisory board or scientific adviser.

“The need to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development so as to achieve sustainability was clearly defined a quarter of a century ago. It is time to make it happen,” states the report.

“The opportunities for change are vast. We are not passive, helpless victims of the impersonal, determinist forces of history. And the exciting thing is that we can choose our future.”

The report serves as an important contribution to the UN’s work on creating a sustainable planet, particularly in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil this June.

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Rio+20 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 20-22, 2012

Rio+20 Report Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing Calls For Creating a Low-Carbon Prosperity For a Sustainable Planet

Key recommendations from the Rio+20 report called for:

  • It is critical that we embrace a new nexus between food, water and energy rather than treating them in different “silos”. All three need to be fully integrated, not treated separately if we are to deal with the global food security crisis. It is time to embrace a second green revolution — an “ever-green revolution” — that doubles yields but builds on sustainability principles;
  • It is time for bold global efforts, including launching a major global scientific initiative, to strengthen the interface between science and policy. We must define, through science, what scientists refer to as “planetary boundaries”, “environmental thresholds” and “tipping points”. Priority should be given to challenges now facing the marine environment and the “blue economy”;
  • Most goods and services sold today fail to bear the full environmental and social cost of production and consumption. Based on the science, we need to reach consensus, over time, on methodologies to price them properly. Costing environmental externalities could open new opportunities for green growth and green jobs;
  • Addressing social exclusion and widening social inequity, too, requires measuring them, costing them and taking responsibility for them. The next step is exploring how we can deal with these critical issues to bring about better outcomes for all;
  • Equity needs to be at the forefront. Developing countries need time, as well as financial and technological support, to transition to sustainable development. We must empower all of society — especially women, young people, the unemployed and the most vulnerable and weakest sections of society. Properly reaping the demographic dividend calls on us to include young people in society, in politics, in the labour market and in business development;
  • Any serious shift towards sustainable development requires gender equality. Half of humankind’s collective intelligence and capacity is a resource we must nurture and develop, for the sake of multiple generations to come. The next increment of global growth could well come from the full economic empowerment of women;
  • Many argue that if it cannot be measured, it cannot be managed. The international community should measure development beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and develop a new sustainable development index or set of indicators;
  • Governments, markets and people need to look beyond short-term transactional agendas and short-term political cycles. Incentives that currently favour short-termism in decision making should be changed. Sustainable choices often have higher up-front costs than business as usual. They need to become more easily available, affordable and attractive to both poor consumers and low-income countries.
  • This Panel believes it is within the wit and will of our common humanity to choose for the future. This Panel therefore is on the side of hope. All great achievements in human history began as a vision before becoming a reality. The vision for global sustainability, producing both a resilient people and a resilient planet, is no different.
  • Governments and international donors should scale up their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate poverty and to reduce inequalities as top priorities for attaining sustainable development.
  • Governments and international donors should scale up their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate poverty and to reduce inequalities as top priorities for attaining sustainable development.
  • Governments should accelerate the implementation of commitments to advance gender equality and women’s rights, including through the repeal of discriminatory laws and institutions and the development and adoption of innovative measures to address informal and cultural practices that act as barriers. Particular emphasis should be given to:
    • Ensuring that women have full and equal access to and control over productive resources through the equal right to own property and the right to inherit, and equal access to credit, financial and extension services along the entire value chain;
    • Ensuring that women have full and equal access to and control over productive resources through the equal right to own property and the right to inherit, and equal access to credit, financial and extension services along the entire value chain;
    • Ensuring universal access to quality and affordable family-planning and other sexual and reproductive rights and health services.

Resources:

With new blueprint in hand, Ban calls for action to chart more sustainable future

Rio+20 Webcast

Rio+20 Count Me In

Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing Press Release for launch of report

RESILIENT PEOPLE RESILIENT PLANET A Future Worth Choosing The Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability OVERVIEW

Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing , High-level Panel on Global Sustainability

Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Home

Let us hope that the Rio+20 conference that calls for creating sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity for a sustainable planet with the Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing report achieves some success and puts forth in motion what many of us hope for, a glimmer of hope for the future, and not question marks or despair.

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