The UNECE Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD; Rio+20 Conference), held on 1 and 2 December in Geneva, reflected growing interest in sustainable development goals and strong support for the adoption of a green economy road map. This road map should include political and action-oriented components and set a vision for the next two decades.
The Regional Preparatory Meeting, the last of five regional preparatory meetings, was convened by UNECE in close cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The meeting attracted some 400 participants, including 160 from Major Groups. Participants engaged in discussions on:
- An assessment of the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development as well as new and emerging challenges.
- A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
- The institutional framework for sustainable development.
Concerning outcomes from the major summits and specific progress in the region, participants recognized the region’s progress in implementing multilateral environmental agreements, and the importance of UNECE processes and regional conventions, as well as initiatives such as the creation of Regional Environmental Centers. The need for improvements in the monitoring and evaluation of progress in sustainable development, better integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, and stronger regional coherence and cooperation was, however, highlighted.
Regarding the green economy, the need for a road map was strongly backed, at the same time making sure that the policy mix avoids a one-size-fits-all approach but rather accommodates the unique challenges faced by different countries. The discussion clearly indicated that the concept should not be separated from the general objective of poverty eradication. Participants also stressed the importance of data and indicators for assessing progress towards a green economy. Discussions pointed at the need for fundamental changes in consumption and production patterns to reduce absolute levels of resource consumption.
Participants noted that discussions on the institutional framework for sustainable development had gained momentum, with a virtual consensus on weaknesses in the current institutional arrangements, including fragmentation and limitations in terms of resources and authority. There was also agreement on the importance of strengthening governance at the regional, national and local levels. However, discussions reflected a lack of consensus on responses.
The meeting noted that UNECE was the only region so far with a legally binding instrument on the implementation of Principle 10, namely, the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.
The Co-Chairs’ summary of the meeting was sent to the UNCSD secretariat as an input for the UNCSD Compilation Document and will presented at the Second Intersessional Meeting, taking place in New York on 15 and 16 December 2011.
Outcomes of the meeting will also be reflected in a final version of a regional inter‑agency report for the Rio+20 Conference, “From Transition to Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in Europe and Central Asia”, coordinated by UNECE, a draft of which was submitted to the RPM.
For further information, please visit: http://www.unece.org/env/sustainabledevelopment/rpm2011/rpm2011.html.
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