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Editor's Note: A Fast Start for 2013 

Issue #201 | 24 January 2013

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

The sustainable development calendar for 2013 has already yielded several key results; we look forward to tracking and reporting on what the rest of the year has to offer.

Last Saturday, negotiations on the newest multilateral environmental treaty concluded. The fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Globally Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury (INC 5) completed its work on 19 January 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland. The treaty, which is to be known as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, is the first-ever treaty on a heavy metal and its uses. It is expected to be adopted and opened for signature during a diplomatic conference on 9-11 October 2013, in Kumamoto and Minamata, Japan. The treaty is named for a Japanese fishing village where a neurological disorder (now known as "Minamata disease") occurred in the 1950s as the result of mercury pollution.

In the UAE, the first Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has concluded. The Week included the first International Water Summit, the 2013 World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and the Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference (ADIREC), which convened in parallel, immediately after the third session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly. In another “first,” the Assembly ratified the headquarters agreement between IRENA and the UAE, and formalized IRENA as the first international organization to be headquartered in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, at UN Headquarters in New York, on 22 January, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a draft decision to establish the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This decision sets in motion one of the key outcomes from the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The OWG is expected to convene for its first meeting in early February. Also in January, the UNGA President appointed co-facilitators to establish an intergovernmental committee on sustainable development financing, and Kazakhstan, Chair of the 20th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 20), began consultations regarding the final CSD meeting.

Consultations, e-discussions and preparations related to the post-2015 development agenda have also been taking place at a quick pace. IISD RS is working hard to help our readers remain informed of all the post-2015 developments. Check out our latest issue of Post-2015 Update, sign up for our POST2015-L listserv, and learn more about the e-discussions and upcoming series of High-Level Leadership Meetings. We are pleased to announce that the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is funding our efforts on this issue for the coming months, as we contribute to the transparency and accountability of decision making around the post-2015 development agenda topics and help policymakers and stakeholders to track this increasingly complex process.