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Sustainable Development Dialogue Days Bulletin
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Volume 201 Number 3 - Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Monday, 18 June 2012

The Sustainable Development Dialogue Days continued on Monday. Participants convened in three sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening on: Sustainable Energy for All; Water; and Sustainable Cities and Innovation. 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.


James Astill, The Economist, UK, moderated the session. Kornelis Blok, Founder, Ecofys Group, the Netherlands, advocated focusing on energy efficiency, highlighting his company’s initiative “Bridging the Gap”, aimed at making progress on three energy pillars: sustainability, efficiency and access.

Brian Dames, CEO, Eskom, South Africa, urged consideration of energy access as well as energy efficiency. He said that finding solutions to improve energy access requires integrated policies and dedicated funding structures, in partnership with the private sector.

Noting that the planet was on a pathway towards consuming 180 million barrels of oil per year by 2050, Vasco Dias, President, Shell, Brazil, said it is essential to shift to alternative energy sources, such as sugarcane ethanol, where Brazil could play a key role.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Director, EU Office, University of Cambridge, UK, said technologies are in place to move away from fossil fuels and transition to alternative energy sources. She called for action on policy longevity with clear targets and timetables to move to low-carbon technologies.

Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), Austria, envisaged an inclusive, economically prosperous, socially-just and environmentally safe future, including sustainable energy and doubling the share of renewables by 2030.

Underscoring energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewables, particularly based on agriculture in developing countries, Thomas Nagy, Executive Vice President, Novozymes, Denmark, supported establishing targets, with a clear framework and roadmap.

Observing that energy access is missing from the MDGs, Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Secretary, International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA), Zambia, supported promoting energy access, which she said is linked to women’s opportunities for education and paid employment.

Luiz Pinguelli Rosa, Director, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Executive Secretary, Brazilian Forum on Climate Change, supported integrated renewable energy and energy access in Brazil, noting that renewables make up 43% of Brazil’s energy mix.

Observing that fossil fuel subsidies amount to US$ 400-600 billion per year, José Antonio Vargas Lleras, Vice-Chairman for Latin America and Caribbean, World Energy Council, said making progress on the MDGs requires removing subsidies and improving energy access.

Wu Changhua, Director, The Climate Group, China, urged the international community to enhance sharing the experiences at the national and local level for scaling up the global effort, and creating an enabling environment through effective policies and incentives.

During the discussion, participants urged the panel to consider additional support for: energy access, specifically renewable energy; decentralized energy; technology transfer; clear timelines; movement from subsidies to investments; education; utilization of biomass; and better governance. Participants advocated reducing demand for energy as a pathway to conservation along with increasing efficiencies through scaling up existing solutions, such as low-cost solar heating in Brazil.

Wu suggested redirecting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energies; developing local infrastructure to deliver clean energy, and identifying and investing in technologies based on local needs. Blok said the transition to sustainable energy requires additional financial support. Supporting Blok’s comment, Dixson- Dècleve stressed monitoring and effectiveness, energy efficiency, and low-carbon technologies as key to this transition. Rosa called for utilizing renewable energies in electricity generation, highlighting the role of investment for increasing alternative energies in the overall share of energy consumption.

Dixson-Dècleve added that local action and international agreement are needed, in which governments put together roadmaps to move from high-carbon to low-carbon technologies, stressing that the financial sector is investing in high-carbon rather than low-carbon alternative energies.

Many panelists agreed with focusing on access. Dixson-Dècleve clarified that energy access should focus on access to renewable energy, while addressing consumption patterns in order to provide energy for all. Nagy encouraged sharing existing technologies to shift the world energy base towards renewable energies, including cooking fuel and biofuel, to enable local communities to access energy. Dames said access to energy and electricity is a fundamental need for human development, highlighting that sustainable energies should be affordable, particularly in developing countries. Dias underlined the need to ensure the competitiveness of renewable energy sources and consumer education.

Addressing a question on why it is taking government so long to take action, Oparaocha offered the explanation of competing priorities that has slowed progress, suggesting that in order to meet sustainable development goals, approaches must be pro-poor and pro-woman. Participants called for: adding timelines to the final recommendations; improving organization of the energy market; and setting concrete targets on renewable energies to deviate from the business-as-usual scenario. One participant made a call for eliminating nuclear energy worldwide by 2020.

Following voting, the top three recommendations emerged on: taking concrete steps to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, as voted by the online public; establishing ambitious targets for moving towards renewable energy, as voted by the audience; and scaling up investments and political will to ensure universal, equitable and affordable access to sustainable energy services to all by the next decade through clear strategies and actions, as selected by the panel.


Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera, Chile, moderated the session. Myrna Cunningham Kaim, Director, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Nicaragua, urged for action to address discriminatory policies, which exclude indigenous peoples from water systems, as well as address lack of access to and contamination of water.

Dyborn Chibonga, National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFRAM), said water was not equitably available due to prevailing unsustainable production and consumption patterns. He called for integrated policy reforms relating to water, energy and land-use management.

Jeff Seabright, Coca-Cola Co., highlighted the importance of addressing the multiple interlinkages in the water, energy and food nexus, which are impacted by poor governance, growing demand and climate change.

Ania Grobicki, Executive-Secretary, Global Water Partnership, Sweden, urged governments to implement the commitments made to formulate integrated water management plans.

Supporting water as a right, Albert Butare, Former Minister of State, Rwanda, CEO, Africa Energy Services Group, focused on how to include water access and management in strategies that facilitate optimal resources use.

Muhammed Yunus, Nobel Laureate, Founder, Grameen Bank, said small local businesses could be encouraged to developo technologies to treat contaminated water as a way of implementing the right to safe drinking water.

David Boys, Public Services International, Canada, emphasized that current profit-driven production and consumption patterns are unsustainable and outlined how through the campaign “No Decent Jobs on a Dead Planet,” the trade union membership is mobilizing a rights-based approach to water.

Calling for the right to water and sanitation to go hand-in-hand, Santha Sheela Nair, Former Secretary, Department of Fresh Water, Ministry of Rural Development, India, said water should be sustainably allocated based on local needs, through strengthened public institutions and private partnerships.

Benedito Braga, President, International Water Resources Association (IWRA), indicated the recommendation are missing elements of appropriate science and technology that would increase the efficient use of water, calling for resilient water infrastructure and governance,proposing that the UN General Assembly consider the issue of water.

Highlighting water and health security as key to survival, Loic Fauchon, President, World Water Council (WWC), called on governments to inscribe the right to water and sanitation in domestic legislation and particularly the right of children to water in developing countries. He suggested government takeresponsibility for the dignity of man and women, water for economic development, and environmental security.

Responding to a question on reconciling economic growth with the protection and equal distribution of water, Seabright said transparent and effective governance on water at the national and local level is required. Yunus observed that in addition to government responsibilities, individual citizens should also take actions to adopt and implement the right to water. Boys identified a social control mechanism at city and state level in Brazil, as examples of enhancing stakeholder participation. Kaim called for strengthening the self-governance structure at the local level, including the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, and suggested integrating the cultural dimension. She stressed the need to respect traditional knowledge including technologies for management of resources, highlighting the focus on gender. In acknowledging the interdependence of human rights, she called for the inclusion of free and prior informed consent to promote agreement in access to resources such as water.

Observing that neither health nor sanitation programmes address womens access to water and sanitation, Nair called for increasing public spending on water management efficiency rather than commodifying water.

In the ensuing discussion, participants commented on societal gains from water conservation, Grobicki said the only way to satisfy water needs is to increase the level of water recycling. He also suggested that pricing should reflect the cost of water solutions, and also discussed pathways to promoting informed choices and decisions based on multi-stakeholder institutions.

One participant called for strengthening funding mechanisms to ensure universal access to water. Boys called for taxing financial transactions and closing tax havens. Another participant proposed reducing agricultural subsidies in developed countries and channeling these funds to support the implementation of the right to water and sanitation. Braga said cost-and-benefit sharing should center on implementing the right to water.

Participants urged the panelists to amend the recommendations to define access to water and sanitation as a human right. Nair shared an example from India that demonstrates the power of linking public action to government action to prevent corporate mining of water.

Following voting, the top three recommendations emerged on: securing water supply by protecting biodiversity, ecosystems and water sources, as voted by the online public; implementing the right to water, as voted by the audience; and adopting more ambitious global policies that assert the importance of integrated water, sanitation, energy and land use planning, development, conservation and management at all scales, taking into account specific gender and cultural needs and with the full and effective participation of civil society, as selected by the panel.


André Trigueiro, Globo TV Network, Brazil, moderated the session. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director for Sustainability, Masdar City, United Arab Emirates, invited delegates to visit Masdar City to experience how cities could be designed to transform living spaces to foster sustainable lifestyles and stimulate the integration of energy and water systems. He noted that the city will rely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a zero carbon and waste matrix.

Alejandro Aravena, CEO, Elemental, Chile, said cities were magnets as they attracted people based on the promise of wealth and “social time bombs” as they fostered inequality and conflict. He suggested that city design to be synthesized around concrete proposals.

Shigeru Ban, Shigeru Ban Architects, Japan, recounted his experiences while attempting to improve the lives of the evacuees after the tsunamis and advocated creating temporary structures in response to shifting priorities.

Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator, Architecture and Design, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), US, said sustainable cities should be designed to offer a better quality of life to be positioned within the larger context of sustainable development.

David Cadman, President, Local Governments of Sustainability (ICLEI) Canada, said peace and capital investment are pre-conditions for sustainable cities. He also urged cities to be designed to withstand flooding, given that two-thirds of humanity live on coastlines and could be faced with the consequences of sea level rise.

Oded Grajew, President, Ethos Institute, Brazil, suggested adding objectives to measure implementation of the recommendations to ensure policymakers are accountable to the public. He said urban growth will suffer from lack of accountability and transparency.

To create sustainable cities, Jaime Lerner, President, Jaime Lerner Institute, Former Mayor of Curitiba and Former Governor of Paraná, suggested separating waste, living closer to work and leaving cars behind.

Enrique Ortiz, Former President, Habitat HIC, stressed that cities were being transformed by structural inequality where the poor are sent to the city peripheries. He said sustainable and productive cities need to be inclusive and democratic.

Khalifa Sall, Mayor of Dakar and Vice-President of Untied Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) for Africa, Senegal, said sustainable cities in Africa require leadership to use natural and human resources in an equitable manner.

Sharing 40 years of experience working with people excluded from cities, Janice Perlman, President, Mega Cities Project, US, asked how cities could give dignity to the three billion people who would be living on the fringes of cities by 2050.

Cadman and Perlman highlighted the need for urgent action, re-adjusting policy priorities, and using existing funding and technologies. Lerner and Ortiz stressed the need for people-centered urban strategies that can be measured against sustainability principles, focusing on empowering people. Noting the power of examples, Aravena called for each Head of State at Rio+20 to identify a city in their country to carry out sustainable city initiatives, each with its own standards, measures and accountability.

Ortiz supported the social function and value of urban properties for inclusive development. Responding to a question on how to reflect the complexities of cities, Aravena underscored the importance of organizing and synthesizing information generated from the public to design concrete solutions.

Participants and panelists discussed the empowerment of communities and explored new education models. Cadman noted that the best education is from examples of sustainable cities, and Grajew said education relies on choosing what is important and matching speech with action.

Grajew addressed a question on the management of solid residues, specifically from construction, by calling for new rules and public policies that benefit people rather than specific sectors. Cadman shared examples of different kinds of waste management in Vancouver that have been useful such as urban composting and deposit incentives on bottles. On the usefulness of databanks, Aravena stated that although data may be available, knowledge is not. Pearlman warned against turning proposals for sustainable cities into practices that do not reach the public, becoming the “enemy of innovation.”

Aravena and Pearlman spoke about the power of people and how democratic participation is key to overcoming challenges in cities. On identifying priorities for sustainable development, Grajew pointed to fighting inequality, and called for the media to provide as much space to education on sustainable development as is provided to sports.

Following voting, the top three recommendations emerged on: promoting the use of waste as a renewable energy source in urban environments, as voted by the online public; planning in advance for sustainability and quality of life in cities, as voted by the audience; and a new recommendation that each head of state should identify a sustainable city to develop a network for knowledge sharing and innovation, governments should channel resources to develop people-centered sustainable cities with timed and measurable goals, in such a way that empowers local communities and promotes equality and accountability, as selected by the panel.

SUMMARY: The Sustainable Dialogue Days Bulletin will be available on Wednesday, 20 June 2012, at:

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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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