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Editor's Note: Renewed Commitment and New Directions 

Issue #175 | 14 September 2011

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By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Group Director, SDG Knowledge, IISD <>

As the proposals for discussion within the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) Preparatory Committee continue to flow in, the question will soon turn to which proposals could be highlighted in a consensus outcome from the June 2012 event.

IISD Reporting Services (RS) recently covered three events that sought to influence the UNCSD policy dialogue. The Tenth Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) Dialogue, which convened in The Hague, the Netherlands, focused on common approaches to dealing with the challenges of food security and climate change. The Latin America and Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the UNCSD assessed progress since the 1992 Earth Summit, discussed the themes for Rio+20 and adopted a set of conclusions to be submitted to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee. And the "International Conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20”contributed to the “Kathmandu Declaration on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development,” which recommends, inter alia, a green economy in mountains based on equity.

In the coming weeks, many other inputs will add to the options presented at these meetings. IISD RS will cover many of these events, including the regional meetings for the other UN regions. The task will then fall to the Preparatory Committee to develop a consensus outcome that represents the interests and needs of the international community, while providing the international community with enough details to create a blueprint along which it can align its actions. As this issue of Linkages Update reports, in an interview with the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service, Andrey Vasilyev, Deputy Executive Secretary for the UN Economic Commission for Europe, commented on his experience with the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, stating that what matters for the outcome is renewed political commitment to sustainable development and identifying practical solutions.

Climate negotiators too are focusing on deliverables and concrete results, as illustrated by recent additions to Climate Change Policy & Practice. The environmental ministers and negotiators gathering in Pretoria, South Africa, for informal consultations focused on their key expectations for the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC, to take place in Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year. Similarly, progress made at the third meeting of the Transitional Committee tasked with designing the UNFCCC's new Green Climate Fund was welcomed by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, who underscored that the Transitional Committee of the Fund is now "fully on track to conclude the design of the Fund" for approval by parties in Durban. Figueres also promptly reminded the climate community of the other areas where the Cancun outcomes should be operationalized, namely the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Framework, thereby implicitly drawing up the (non-exhaustive) list of what should constitute an acceptable outcome in Durban.

Our knowledgebases and meeting reporting will continue to follow these developments and report on the directions that sustainable development policy makers are heading.