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MEA Bulletin - Guest Article No. 85 - Friday, 5 February 2010
Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Implementing Sustainable Development
Monday, 1 February 2010
By the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development
As the international community gears up for a conference marking the twentieth anniversary of the historic Earth Summit and Agenda 21, the world's blueprint on Sustainable Development, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) is taking a fresh look on how it can accelerate the pace by which its decisions are turned into action – ensuring a more effective and coordinated approach to global policy on sustainable development.

In support of this initiative, the Division for Sustainable Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), convened the first meeting to support ‘Multistakeholder Dialogue on Implementing Sustainable Development.’ This innovative event brought former (Netherlands) and current (Guatemala) CSD Chairs together with international and regional financial institutions, foundations, the Major Groups, partnerships and Member States to debate how best to improve the efficacy and reach of the policy decisions negotiated bi-annually by the Commission, and how to increase synergies among all stakeholders.

Though the meeting focused on the 278 decisions relevant to agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and sustainable development in Africa – recent CSD 17 themes - its prescriptions were also meant to hasten implementation across the numerous priorities detailed in the Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation frameworks.  

Tariq Banuri, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, described the innovation as part of a longer-term effort to advance progress on the internationally agreed sustainable development agenda. He pointed out that the meeting was timely for informing ongoing responses to the global financial meltdown, the food crisis and the climate crisis. Stakeholders agreed, noting that the Commission's work had been critically important to policymaking, especially where it had enhanced awareness and coordination on food, water and energy security, especially in Africa.

The meeting also provided a forum for highlighting what CSD modalities have been largely successful in advancing development. Participants stressed that the most effective and sustainable actions have been country-led and country-owned, pointing to the importance of reinforcing national capacity with human, financial and technological resources. Partnerships, like the Farming First coalition, SARD Initiative and the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food were cited as excellent examples on how also to meet this need. Fruitful partnerships were noted to fortify local capacity and help build communities more able to cope with environmental changes in sustainable ways. They can also, like the Sustainable Development Knowledge Partnership, lay the groundwork for advanced thinking, knowledge dissemination and coordinated research.

Such stocktaking and discourse went on to shape the most salient output of the meeting - a Seven Point Strategy meant to fast-track implementation of CSD decisions. The Strategy calls for the use of new modalities, as well as the scaling-up of successful practices, like partnerships. Under its auspices, periodic reviews, greater collaboration, work on indicators and national sustainable development round tables will all be pursued. ICT technologies were also highlighted to be a key component; for instance use of virtual online extension networks to improve information sharing on agriculture. Participants called for the mobilization of additional resources in support of the Strategy as well as of other novel approaches to implementation brought out in the discussions.  

For more information on this discourse, background documentation and webcast, please visit
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