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Sustainable Development Dialogue Days Bulletin
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Volume 201 Number 2 - Monday, 18 June 2012
Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Sustainable Development Dialogue Days continued on Sunday. Participants convened in three sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening on: The Economics of Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Patterns of Production and Consumption; Forests; and Food and Nutrition Security. The format for the sessions was a panel presentation and discussion, followed by a question and answer session. The sessions focused on ten recommendations emanating from a public online vote, and provided a platform for refining and proposing additional recommendations, with the objective of the sessions to produce three final recommendations to be delivered to the Heads of State and government: one derived from the online vote; one from the in-session vote from the audience; and one reflecting the panelists preferred recommendation.


Joseph Leahy, Financial Times, moderated the session. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway, stressed the importance of phasing out harmful subsidies and changing how prosperity is measured using gross domestic product (GDP). She emphasized that it is vital to adopt carbon standards and promote sustainable public procurement as catalysts for change, to redirect unsustainable production and consumption patterns.

Elisabeth Laville, Director, UTOPIES, France, said internalizing the environmental costs of consumption is key to sustainable development. Noting that a green economy is based on redirecting consumption in the context of rising unsustainable global resource consumption, she called on governments to construct a vision to change consumption patterns, through education and economic integration stimulus programmes.

Enase Okonedo, Lagos Business School, Nigeria, made the case for including indicators such as health and carbon emissions in the measurement of national income, as well as differentiating between developed and developing countries in terms of actualizing growth projections. She said GDP should include sustainable development and education indicators to bring about a shift in consumption patterns. 

Helio Mattar, President, Akatu Institute, Brazil, addressed a long-term vision for sustainable development with a view to increase resource use, driven by a growing global middle class. Noting that two planets would be required to sustain current consumption patterns, he said it is crucial to shift the consumer mindset to a understanding of well-being based on lifestyle values, education and correct price incentives.

Noting the prevailing lack of political will, Ignacy Sachs, Center for Research on Contemporary Brazil (CRDC), France, called for Rio+20 to put humanity on the track of social consciousness and environmental prudence, underpinned by economic viability. He said encouraging international cooperation based on scientific and technical knowledge is key.

Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio, CEO, Planetary Skin Institute, Peru, provided a perspective based on science and technology to facilitate increased resource productivity and reduce associated environmental risks. Noting the availability of current information and knowledge to act, locally and globally, he prioritized developing capacity and tools to enable holistic development.

Emphasizing that lowering carbon emissions is integral to developing sustainable production and consumption patterns, Kelly Rigg, Director, VANDA Group, US, said climate change has received scant reference in the Rio+20 negotiating document. On current carbon emissions pathways that lock in unsustainable consumption patterns, she supported Brundtland’s call for immediate catalytic changes and introduced timelines and targets to the panel recommendations to garner political will for action.

Noting the importance of including environmental damage in GDP, Mathis Wackernagel, Co-Founder, Executive-Director, Global Footprint Network, Switzerland, underscored the necessity of making substantial reductions in CO2 emissions, increased resource efficiencies and environmental risk accounting.

Underlining the need to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, Thomas Heller, Executive-Director, Climate Policy Initiative, US, stressed the need to factor in natural capital in economic growth. He supported the recommendations on increasing productivity and efficiency, valuing ecosystem services and adopting carbon standards.

Amb. Rubens Ricupero, Former Secretary-General, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Brazil, said the economic crisis should be used as a catalyst to address environmental challenges,noting the incompatibility of Brazil’s current perverse incentives to purchase cars, which he said are incompatible with sustainable development.

In response to a question on how to implement long-term planning without stifling growth, especially in view of the current economic crisis, Heller observed that it is a matter of using public policy to manage growth, stimulatinf productivity gains and incorporating ecosystem services. Mattar challenged the common perception that reducing consumption entails sacrifices to human well-being.

Okonedo underscored the importance of a holistic approach to measuring growth, which includes livelihood improvements rather than simply looking at growth in economic terms. Expressing support for Okonedo’s comments, Brundtland said key measures of environmental protection should be combined with solutions to social issues in order to improve the welfare of local communities, and stressed the empowerment of women need to be realized in sustainable development. On the green economy, Rigg called for science and fact-based assessment, highlighting the absence of information on the scale of subsides.

Participants called for: sustainable public procurement; tax reductions for implementing environmentally friendly projects and green tax schemes; accounting to incorporate resource efficiencies; and biophysical accounting and social auditing in measurement of the economics of sustainable development. Heller highlighted demand as the main economic driver affecting pricing, which also impacts innovation and investment, and called for governments and business to rethink their internal investment function to unlock the potential for sustainable development. Following Keller’s response, Mattar identified the necessity of a dematerialized lifestyle and consumer awareness of the impacts of consumption at the micro-level.

Following voting, the top three recommendations emerged on: phasing out harmful subsidies and developing green tax schemes, as voted by the online public; including environmental damages in the Gross National Product (GNP) and complementing it with measures of social development, as voted by the audience; and promoting sustainable public procurement worldwide as a catalyst for sustainable patterns as selected by the panel.


James Chao, CCTV, China, moderated the session. Bertha Becker, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, recommended: “strengthening urban centers in forests” to provide social services, education, health, and logistics for organizing product chains; considering the diversity of pathways to sustainable development; and broadening the knowledge of forests to include science and technology.

Expressing support for a recommendation on locally controlled forestry, Estebancio Castro Diaz, Executive-Secretary, Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of Tropical Forests, Panama, pointed out that the recommendations did not adequately acknowledge the role of indigenous peoples. He called on politicians to take into account indigenous and local communities in forest policy development. 

Christian Del Valle, Founder, Althelia Climate Fund, UK, highlighted the need to better value nature, recalling the recommendations from the sessionon Economics of Sustainable Development that acknowledges the environmental damage and economic “invisibility of nature.” 

André Giacini de Freitas, Executive-Director, Forest Stewardship Council, Brazil, underscored the importance of recognizing the intrinsic value of forests, which requires clear commitments by governments to eliminate deforestation. 

Anders Hildeman, Global Forestry Manager, IKEA, Sweden, shared corporate experiences in aligning business with social responsibility and protection of forests. He said these actions demonstrated that business is part of the solution through fostering sustainability, providing benefits and empowering people in the supply chain.

Yolanda Kakabadse, President, WWF, Ecuador, stressed that forests are a public good and provide services that benefit all. She called for a visionary and clear definition of a framework calling for zero deforestation by 2020 and adding value to forest products in order to benefit local communities, as well as a defining mechanisms to achieve these goals.

Guilherme Leal, Founder, CEO, Natura Cosmeticos, Brazil,  suggested that “to take care of ourselves, we must care for the whole,” which requires integrating science, technology and entrepreneurship to share prosperity and transition to a culture of social responsibility.

On respecting the value of forests, Lu Zhi, Director, Center for Nature and Society, Beijing University, China, shared her experiences on protecting pandas and their habitats in the 1990s when China was experiencing increased deforestation. She also highlighted the experience of a Tibetan Buddhist community who protected their forest as a sacred site inspite of the income that it could have generated from logging. She said that it was not until thousands of lives were lost during flooding in China in 1998 that appreciation of the role of forests in flood control and water source conservation grew.

Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director-General, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), highlighted the recommendation on the goal to restore 150,000 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020 as a practical step, which would sequester one gigatone of carbon per year. She highlighted the launch of the “Bonn Challenge” in 2011 by the UN Forum on Forests to restore forests in global partnership as, a key issue given that about 1.6 billion people depended directly on forests for their livelihoods.

Klaus Töpfer, Founder, Executive Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Germany, highlighted the importance of the Congo Basin and the work of Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Muta Maathai, who gave forestry a face and showcased local communities planting trees. He stressed the need to shift from exporting timber to adding value to forests and bringing jobs to local communities. He referred to the process started in Rio twenty years ago through the Non-legally Binding Principles for all Kinds of Forests, proposing cultural diversity as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.

In the ensuing discussion, Kakabadse reaffirmed the feasibility of a zero deforestation goal by 2020 and stressed that a sole declaration emanating from the Dialogue Days is not enough, requiring governments to make decisions during Rio+20. Kakabadse and Töpfer supported a comment on establishing an international tribunal to adjudicate on forestry issues, noting that a tribunal is not only necessary for forests but also for any crime against nature and proposed agreeing on a legal framework during Rio+20.

Hildeman emphasized that sustainable forest management should be based on dialogues with forest dwellers and incorporating the social dimension. Castro Diaz urged for the full participation of indigenous people in sustainable development dialogues at the national level. Becker suggested adding social inclusion to the zero deforestation goal, underscoring the high costs of forest management and certification for indigenouspeoples. Referring to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Töpfer suggested integrating access to indigenous knowledge and genetic resources and benefit-sharing into the recommendations.

Responding to a question on measuring the full value of forests, Lu commented that both forest value and the value added to and embedded in local communities should be appreciated. Noting the complexity of valuing forests, Del Valle recommended adding forest reporting into international accounting.

Following voting, the top three recommendations emerged on: restoring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020, as voted by the online public; promoting science, technology, innovation and traditional knowledge in order to face forests main challenge: how to turn them productive without destroying them, as voted by the audience; and the panelists reached consensus on a new recommendation on achieving zero deforestation by 2020 taking into account the social aspect.


This session was moderated by Paulo Prada, Reuters, US. Stressing that hunger remains a concern for Africa, Luísa Dias Diogo, Former Prime Minister, Mozambique, and Member of the UN Global Sustainability Panel, suggested including women and small agricultural holders to a recommendation on developing policies to encourage sustainable production of food supply.

Hortensia Hidalgo, Indigenous Women’s Network of Latin America and the Caribbean for Biodiversity, Chile, supported the inclusion of women, small holders and small-scale fishers as critical contributors to sustainable food production.

Martin Khor, Executive Director, South Centre, addressed root causes of food insecurity, which resulted in many developing countries shifting from net exporters to net importers of food. He suggested: allowing poor countries to increase tariffs to counter agricultural export subsidies of rich countries; reexamining the rules of the World Trade Organization on agricultural export subsidies; and addressing speculation in commodity markets.

Renato  Maluf, Center for Food Security, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Brazil, suggested adding to the recommendations: promoting public policy and reference to social participation; strengthening the global governance on food from multilateral bodies such as the UN Committee on World Food Security; and incorporating international recommendations on food production models and sustainable consumption patterns. 

Marco Marzano de Marinis, Executive Director, World Farmers Organization, highlighted under-financing of agriculture and called for public finance and official development assistance focusing on agriculture and rural development, including enabling women, young farmers, and the most vulnerable groups to run family businesses and access land, education, and technologies.

Esther Penunia, Secretary-General, Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), the Philippines, introduced the perspective of small-scale farmers,’ stressing the urgent need for land ownership, technologies for sustainable agro-ecological farming, sustainable consumption, and agricultural policies. She encouraged training and decent living for farmers, particularly young farmers. 

Carlo Petrini, Founder, Slow Food Movement, Italy, said that food, as a basic element to humanity, has become a commodity and is delinked from generating basic benefits for those directly working in food production. He highlighted the need to: combat food waste; respect local populations, indigenous people and young people engaged in agriculture; and fight “neo-colonialism.”

Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and Chair, the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice, stressed that food and nutrition security are human rights that should be protected, emphasizing the widespread and systematic failure to protect human rights. Noting that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is cited in the Rio+20 text, she underlined the need to address food security from a rights-centered perspective to empower women, small holders and young farmers.

Josette Sheeran, Vice-President, World Economic Forum, US, noted that decisions from leaders on food security will impact global peace and stability. Noting that 1/7th of humanity suffered from hunger, she underscored the need to eliminate misery and poverty-rooted malnutrition, referring to the success of former President Lula in combating hunger and malnutrition in Brazil.

Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, India, reemphasized that agriculture produces commodities rather than food, saying that unless farmers are debt-free, hunger will not be abated. She warned against false solutions such as corporate commodification, declaring the need to recognize human rights principles, stating that women, not corporations, can solve the problem of hunger.

Shiva explained that in order to empower women, the first step is to prevent exclusion from the processes and policies that establish the global food chain and remove structures that disengage women from agriculture.Penunia reflected on the role of society to put pressure on governments to provide the political will to implement policies that protect rights to land, water, seeds and forests. Former Prime Minister Diogo cited political leadership, financial means and partnerships as bridges to empowerment, while Khor pointed to changing the trading system in food production.

On promoting food security, Sheeran acknowledged examples from Brazil that add value to production and involve small farmers in larger food chains, helping women to break cycles of poverty. Maluf identified mistakes in the global market, such as the distance between production and consumption.

Robinson supported a comment from the audience regarding the power of the youth to leverage technology and social media to redress injustice. Petrini reflected on the vast intelligence of farmers and peasants, hoping for a stronger link with young people and technology.

Following voting, the top three recommendations emerged on: promoting food systems that are sustainable and contribute to improvement of health, as voted by the online public; developing policies to encourage sustainable production of food supplies directed to both producers and consumers, as voted by the audience; and eliminating misery and poverty-related malnutrition, empowering women farmers, small-holder farmers, young farmers and indigenous people, ensuring their access to land, water and seed as well as their full involvement in public policy decision making regarding food production and food and nutrition security, as selected by the panel.

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The Sustainable Development Dialogue Days Bulletin is a publtication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Asheline Appleton, Qian Cheng and Tasha Goldberg. The Digital Editor is Francis Dejon. The Editor is Deborah Davenport, Ph.D., <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this event has been provided by the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations and UN Development Programme (UNDP). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linrkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, USA. The IISD Team at the Sustainable Development Dialogues can be contacted by e-mail at <>.

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