Summary report, 29 May – 2 June 2012

3rd Round of UNCSD Informal Informal Consultations

The third round of “informal informal” consultations on the draft outcome document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) took place from 29 May to 2 June 2012 at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates resumed consideration of the draft outcome document for Rio+20, which was originally developed by the Co-Chairs and Bureau of the UNCSD Preparatory Committee (PrepCom).

Titled “The Future We Want” and 19 pages in length, the original document was released on 10 January 2012. This version of the draft incorporated input received by the UNCSD Secretariat from member states and other stakeholders, as well as comments offered during the Second Intersessional Meeting of the UNCSD PrepCom in December 2011. Following its release, the zero draft was discussed at meetings held at UN Headquarters in January and March, when delegates proposed numerous amendments, and it expanded to over 200 pages in length.

From 23 April to 4 May, delegates met for what was originally slated to be the last round of “informal informal” negotiations before the PrepCom’s third and final meeting in Rio de Janeiro, just prior to UNCSD itself. However, delegates only managed to agree ad referendum on 21 of 420 paragraphs, with several issues, including green economy and the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), eluding consensus. Thus, the Bureau decided to hold this additional informal negotiating session.

During this weeklong session, delegates discussed an 80-page revised draft text produced by the Co-Chairs in two working groups and over 20 issue-specific contact or “splinter” groups. In the end, 70 paragraphs were agreed ad referendum, with 259 containing bracketed text. With less than three weeks to go before Rio+20, key areas of divergence remain, including: several issues within the framework for action, such as climate change, oceans and food and agriculture; the process for the establishment of sustainable development goals (SDGs); means of implementation, most notably finance and technology transfer; IFSD; and green economy.


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) will mark the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference that specifically had the word “environment” in its title. Taking place in June 2012, the UNCSD seeks to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess progress and implementation gaps in meeting previously-agreed commitments, and address new and emerging challenges. The conference will focus on the following themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD).

STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE: The UN Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 5-16 June 1972, and produced three major sets of decisions: the Stockholm Declaration; the Stockholm Action Plan, made up of 109 recommendations on international measures against environmental degradation for governments and international organizations; and a group of five resolutions calling for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons, the creation of an international databank on environmental data, actions linked to development and the environment, the creation of an environment fund, and establishing the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which was charged with providing the central node for global environmental cooperation and treaty making.

BRUNDTLAND COMMISSION: In 1983, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) established an independent commission to formulate a long-term agenda for action. The World Commission on Environment and Development—more commonly known as the Brundtland Commission, named for its Chair, Gro Harlem Brundtland—subsequently issued its report in 1987, Our Common Future, which stressed the need for development strategies in all countries that recognized the limits of the ecosystem’s ability to regenerate itself and absorb waste products. The Commission emphasized the link between economic development and environmental issues, and identified poverty eradication as a necessary and fundamental requirement for environmentally sustainable development.

UN CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, was held from 3-14 June 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and involved over 100 Heads of State and Government, representatives from 178 countries, and some 17,000 participants. The principal outputs of UNCED were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 (a 40-chapter programme of action) and the Statement of Forest Principles. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity were also opened for signature during the Earth Summit. Agenda 21 called for the creation of a Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) as a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, enhance international cooperation, and examine progress in implementing Agenda 21 at the local, national, regional and international levels.

UNGASS-19: The 19th Special Session of the UNGA for the Overall Review and Appraisal of Agenda 21 (23-27 June 1997, New York) adopted the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. It assessed progress since UNCED and examined implementation.

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The WSSD met from 26 August - 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The goal of the WSSD, according to UNGA Resolution 55/199, was to hold a ten-year review of UNCED at the summit level to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. The WSSD gathered over 21,000 participants from 191 countries. Delegates negotiated and adopted the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development. The JPOI is designed as a framework for action to implement the commitments originally agreed at UNCED. The Johannesburg Declaration outlines the path taken from UNCED to the WSSD, highlights challenges, expresses a commitment to sustainable development, underscores the importance of multilateralism, and emphasizes the need for implementation.

UNGA 64: On 24 December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 64/236 and agreed to convene the UNCSD in 2012 in Brazil. Resolution 64/236 also called for holding three Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings prior to the UNCSD. On 14 May 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang as Secretary-General for the Conference. The UN Secretary-General subsequently appointed Brice Lalonde (France) and Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados) as executive coordinators.

UNCSD PREPCOM I: This meeting was held from 17-19 May 2010, at UN Headquarters in New York. The PrepCom assessed progress to date and the remaining gaps in implementing outcomes of major summits on sustainable development, as well as new and emerging challenges, a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the IFSD. Participants also organized their work in the lead-up to 2012, and considered the UNCSD’s rules of procedure.

FIRST INTERSESSIONAL MEETING: This meeting convened at UN Headquarters from 10-11 January 2011. Delegates listened to a summary of the findings of the Synthesis Report on securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development. Panel discussions were held on the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and on the IFSD.

UNCSD PREPCOM II: This meeting took place from 7-8 March 2011, also at UN Headquarters. Delegates discussed progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, addressed new and emerging challenges, discussed the scope of a green economy and the idea of a “blue economy,” and debated the IFSD. At the end of the meeting, a decision was adopted on the process for preparing the draft outcome document for the UNCSD.

UNCSD REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL MEETINGS: During the second half of 2011, a series of regional and sub-regional meetings were held to prepare inputs for the UNCSD preparatory process. These included three sub-regional preparatory meetings for small island developing states (SIDS), as well as regional meetings organized by the UN regional economic and social commissions.

During the Regional Preparatory Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Santiago, Chile, from 7-9 September 2011, delegates called for better ways to measure the wealth of countries that adequately reflect the three pillars of sustainable development, and a flexible and efficient global IFSD ensuring effective integration of the three pillars. They also discussed a proposal from Colombia and Guatemala to launch a process to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting took place from 16-17 October 2011, in Cairo, Egypt. Delegates highlighted the lack of a universal definition of green economy and agreed that it should be a tool for sustainable development rather than a new principle that might replace sustainable development. Participants also highlighted the need for balance among the three pillars of sustainable development.

The Regional Preparatory Meeting for Asia and the Pacific took place from 19-20 October 2011, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Although many found merit in the idea of a green economy, some noted that it should not lead to protectionism or conditionalities. On IFSD, while many favored “strengthening” UNEP, there was no consensus on whether this should be done through transforming UNEP into a specialized agency. Some participants also expressed interest and support for establishing a sustainable development council.

The Regional Preparatory Meeting for Africa took place from 20-25 October 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On IFSD, while there was some opposition to the idea of transforming UNEP into a specialized agency, all participants agreed on the need to strengthen the programme. Delegates supported the concept of a green economy while indicating that it needs more definition, should not result in protectionism or trade conditionalities, and should include the concept of sustainable land management.

The Regional Preparatory Meeting for Europe and North America convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1-2 December 2011. Participants called for improvement in monitoring and evaluation of progress on sustainable development, better integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, and stronger regional cooperation. They discussed SDGs and a green economy roadmap. On IFSD, many supported upgrading and transforming UNEP, creating a sustainable development council, strengthening the regional commissions and national sustainable development councils, and engaging civil society.

SECOND INTERSESSIONAL MEETING: This meeting convened at UN Headquarters in New York from 15-16 December 2011. Participants discussed the compilation of submissions from states, UN bodies, intergovernmental organizations and Major Groups, and provided comments and guidance for the development, structure and format of a “zero draft” of the outcome document to be adopted at the UNCSD.

INITIAL DISCUSSIONS OF THE ZERO DRAFT: This meeting took place at UN Headquarters from 25-27 January 2012. In their opening statements, delegates agreed that the zero draft would serve as the basis for negotiations. They had submitted written comments on the first two sections—the Preamble/Stage Setting and Renewing Political Commitment Sections—prior to the January discussions, and began negotiations on these sections.

FIRST “INFORMAL INFORMAL” CONSULTATIONS AND THIRD INTERSESSIONAL MEETING: Negotiations resumed from 19-27 March, at UN Headquarters. Delegates engaged in lengthy discussions on the text, proposing amendments and responding to other delegations’ suggestions. By the end of the meeting, most sections of the text had been reviewed and discussed more than once, with the text expanding to more than 200 pages.

SECOND “INFORMAL INFORMAL” CONSULTATIONS: Negotiations resumed again from 23 April to 4 May 2012, at UN Headquarters. Delegates agreed ad referendum to 21 out of 420 paragraphs in the text, and so the Bureau decided to hold an additional negotiating session prior to the UNCSD, from 29 May to 2 June 2012, again at UN Headquarters.


The third round of “informal informal” consultations on the draft outcome document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development opened on Tuesday morning, 29 May. UNCSD PrepCom Co-Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) suggested that delegates look at the entirety of the 80-page Co-Chairs’ suggested text (CST) that was issued on 22 May 2012, and consider whether it will send the desired message about sustainable development for the next 20 years or more. He called this a “make or break” meeting, and explained that Working Group I (WG I) would consider Sections V (framework for action) and VI (means of implementation), chaired by Ashe; and WG II would consider Sections I (common vision), II (renewing political commitment), III (green economy) and IV (institutional framework for sustainable development), chaired by PrepCom Co-Chair Kim Sook (Republic of Korea).

At the beginning of the afternoon session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed participants and emphasized that the stakes at this final negotiation before Rio+20 are very high and issues can no longer remain unresolved in the text. He said the Rio+20 outcome should, inter alia, identify: a process to define SDGs; a new institutional framework; and mechanisms that stimulate economies to create decent jobs, provide social protection, and support a healthy environment. He called on negotiators to work with the CST and streamline it further in order to make Rio+20 a resounding success.

This summary of the meeting follows the structure of the draft outcome document. Each section of this summary contains two elements: an overview of the negotiations, focusing on key points of discussion and/or divergence; and a brief review of the draft outcome document as it stood at the conclusion of the meeting on 2 June 2012. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily issues from this meeting offer a more detailed review of the deliberations and can be found online at


WG II completed a single reading of the twelve paragraphs in the section on “Our Common Vision” on Tuesday. The section was then assigned to an informal group, chaired by the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), to resolve outstanding issues. 

During discussions on paragraphs recognizing poverty eradication as the central element of sustainable development and reaffirming that poverty eradication remains the greatest challenge facing the world today, the G-77/China highlighted poverty eradication, but others, including the Republic of Korea, Japan, the US and the European Union (EU), drew attention to multiple references to this issue and overlap. The Holy See called for retaining sustainable consumption and production (SCP). On Tuesday evening, a breakout group chaired by the US reported that two paragraphs on poverty eradication had been redrafted and parties agreed to delete the original text. Outstanding issues included “extreme” poverty, inclusion of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), and whether to refer to “changing unsustainable” or “promoting sustainable” production and consumption patterns.

On reaffirming the importance of freedom, peace and security and respect for all human rights, the G-77/China called for deleting “adequate” in reference to the right to food, while the US supported the right to an adequate standard of living, including food. The Holy See, opposed by the US, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Israel and Grenada, suggested replacing language on gender equality with language on equality between men and women.

On reaffirming the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU, Norway, Iceland and Grenada supported language to respect, protect and promote human rights. The US preferred “promote universal respect for, and observance and protection of human rights.” The EU, G-77/China, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Grenada and the US supported including reference to people with disabilities.

Mexico, the US, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Iceland underscored that they were close to agreeing on text reaffirming continued guidance by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and the importance of freedom, peace and security and respect for all human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and expressed concern over extensive reopening of text.

Australia proposed text noting that environmental protection is essential for sustainable development, which was accepted. The G-77/China suggested adding reference to “implementation gaps” in text on reaffirming commitment to strengthening international cooperation, but it was not supported.

The Holy See, Mexico and the EU proposed several amendments to text on sustainable development as a joint effort, rewording language on the fundamental nature (or requirements) of sustainable development and public participation. The G-77/China suggested adding reference to equity, sovereignty over national resources and the principle of CBDR. The Co-Chair left the paragraph to the break-out group.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed to eight paragraphs ad referendum on:

•  renewing our commitment to sustainable development;

•  reaffirming commitment to accelerate the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);

•  recognizing people are at the center of sustainable development;

•  reaffirming we are guided by the Charter of the UN;

•  acknowledging the essential role of democracy, good governance and rule of law, as well as an enabling environment;

•  reaffirming commitment to strengthening international cooperation;

•  renewing commitment to sustainable development, assessing progress regarding the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits, and addressing new and emerging challenges; and

•  recognizing that people’s opportunities to influence their lives and future are fundamental.

Disagreement remains on language relating to: placement of CBDR within the text; whether to change unsustainable or promote sustainable patterns of production and consumption; the right to food or the right to an adequate standard of living, including food; and promoting universal respect, observance and protection of all human rights.


WG II discussed this section, which recalls previous commitments and sets the stage for further action. The new draft text contains subsections on: reaffirming Rio Principles and past action plans; achieving integration, implementation and coherence: assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges; and engaging Major Groups and other stakeholders. This section was first addressed on Tuesday, and the first reading of the text was completed on Wednesday. Outstanding issues within all three subsections were then assigned to an informal group, chaired by the G-77/China, for resolution and streamlining.

A. Reaffirming Rio Principles and Past Action Plans: This subsection (paragraphs 13-17) was first addressed on Tuesday. Disagreement focused on three main issues: the number of references to and placement within the text of the principle of CBDR; whether and how to reference major summits and conferences on women and gender; and language on reinvigorating political will.

On CBDR, in text reaffirming that all principles in the Rio Declaration will continue to guide the international community, the G-77/China, opposed by the US, requested inclusion of CBDR. In a paragraph recognizing the importance of the three Rio Conventions, Canada proposed modifying reference to CBDR to reflect language in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The US, the EU, Japan and New Zealand preferred not singling out individual principles from the UNFCCC. New Zealand suggested a compromise by adding “in accordance with their respective principles” after reference to all three Rio Conventions. Co-Chair Kim noted the carefully constructed compromise in this section, which saw agreement that CBDR should be used where it is most needed and not overused. Norway and the Republic of Korea said they could accept the CST and underscored that CBDR had to be addressed in the appropriate place.

On referencing major summits and conferences on women and gender, the US requested reference to: the Cairo Programme of Action; the 21st Special Session of the General Assembly on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+5); and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, to recognize the role of women. The G-77/China said that, if these are referenced, the outcome document of the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development must also be included, which was opposed by the US and the Republic of Korea.

On language on reinvigorating political will, disagreement ensued on whether to “implement,” “achieve” or “advance” sustainable development, in text on reaffirming commitment to reinvigorate political will and international commitment. Switzerland, opposed by the G-77/China, requested language on the other relevant internationally agreed goals in the economic, social and environmental fields, in addition to development goals.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed ad referendum onthe paragraph recalling the Stockholm Declaration. Outstanding issues in the section “reaffirming Rio principles and past action plans” include placement of the principles of CBDR and equity, and inclusion of outcomes from major summits on women and gender in text reaffirming commitment to implement the outcomes of major sustainable development summits and conferences.

B. Advancing Integration, Implementation and Coherence: Assessing the Progress to Date and the Remaining Gaps in the Implementation of the Outcomes of the Major Summits on Sustainable Development and Addressing New and Emerging Challenges: This subsection (paragraphs 18-35) was first addressed on Tuesday with differences on how to reference challenges including: climate change, technology transfer, rapid population growth, unsustainable lifestyles in developed countries, and youth unemployment. Divergence also remained on self-determination, especially for people living under colonial and foreign occupation, and women’s empowerment.

On challenges, the G-77/China objected to the US adding “voluntary” and “on mutually agreed terms” to technology transfer. The G-77/China supported text on avoiding “backtracking on previously taken international commitments.” The US added reference to pressure on resources through rapid population growth, and the G-77/China called for “a rationalization” of unsustainable consumption and lifestyle patterns in developed countries. The EU and the US did not support two additional paragraphs proposed by the G-77/China on climate change undermining the abilities of developing countries to achieve sustainable development, and on the effect of sanctions. The US, supported by Japan, Canada and New Zealand, proposed reference to “strategies” on youth employment, with the G-77/China calling for retention of one global strategy.

On self-determination, the G-77/China preferred to reflect text on self-determination, particularly for peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, as having equal status with the rest of the text. Azerbaijan, the US and Canada called for deletion of text on self-determination, while the EU reserved.

On women’s empowerment, the US wished to retain its amendment on access to reproductive health services, which the G-77/China and the Holy See suggested deleting. On text on Africa, the US called for deletion of reference to aid lagging behind commitments, and the G-77/China introduced language to stress more attention to Africa and to full implementation of commitments. While reference to transit countries was deleted, the issue of specific challenges faced by middle-income countries led to differences, with the EU suggesting deletion of this paragraph and the Russian Federation insisting on its retention.

Draft Outcome Document:Delegatesagreed to paragraphs ad referendum on:

•  recognizing examples of progress in sustainable development at regional, national, sub-national and local levels;

•  reaffirming the importance of supporting developing countries in efforts to combat poverty and promote empowerment of the poor and vulnerable groups;

•  recognizing that many people, especially the poor, rely on ecosystems for their livelihoods, their economic, social and physical well-being, and their cultural heritage;

•  recognizing each country faces specific challenges to achieve sustainable development;

•  reaffirming commitment to take urgent and concrete action to address the vulnerability of SIDS;

•  reaffirming the Istanbul Programme of Action for the least developed countries (LDCs);

•  recognizing the serious constraints to achieve sustainable development in land-locked developing countries (LLDCs);

•  calling for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development; and

•  acknowledging the natural and cultural diversity of the world.

Areas of disagreement in the text include:

•  whether technology transfer should occur on mutually agreed terms;

•  including the principle of non-regression;

•  recognizing the need for a global strategy on youth unemployment;

•  how to address climate change within the text;

•  whether to reflect the right to self-determination, particularly for those living under colonial or foreign occupation;

•  including language on empowering women through access to reproductive services;

•  language on gaps in implementation of commitments;

•  how or whether to address middle income countries; and

•  language on the rights of nature.

C. Engaging Major Groups and Other Stakeholders: This subsection (paragraphs 36-49) was first addressed on Wednesday morning. Areas of divergence included language on the private sector and corporate social responsibility, the contribution of the scientific and technological community, and the central role of the UN.

On the private sector and corporate social responsibility, a large number of amendments were submitted by the EU, G-77/China and Switzerland to paragraphs on the participation of the private sector and corporate responsibility, while the US and Canada voiced preference for the original CST language. The EU proposed aligning business practices with the UN Global Compact, and the G-77/China, opposed by the US, asked for deletion of “applying standards” of corporate responsibility and “accountability.”

Norway proposed developing a transparent global system on corporate responsibility, to which Mexico added “taking into account the needs of developing countries.” The EU suggested that the Secretary-General launch a process to develop a global framework to promote best practices for integrating sustainability reporting, building on existing frameworks. The drafting group prepared an alternative paragraph on sustainability reporting.

On the contribution of the scientific and technological community, the G-77/China offered language on closing the technological gap between developed and developing countries. The US, opposed by the G-77/China, added “legally acquired” in relation to sharing of knowledge and information.

On acknowledging the central role of the UN, the G-77/China suggested referencing international financial institutions (IFIs) and the importance of cooperation among them, while the US and EU said this should be “within their respective mandates.” The EU, opposed by the US, G-77/China and the Russian Federation, proposed requesting that the Secretary-General strengthen the capacity of the UN to develop and manage partnerships.

Draft Outcome Document: In this section, delegates agreed ad referendum to: underscoring the vital role of women; stressing the importance of participation of indigenous peoples, as well as workers and trade unions; recognizing the contributions of farmers, including small-scale farmers and fishers, pastoralists and foresters; and committing to re-invigorating the global partnership for sustainable development.

In the section on Major Groups, a number of outstanding issues remain, inter alia: including respecting the right to freedom of association and assembly in acknowledging the role of civil society; referencing the Global Compact and the guiding principles on business and human rights; language on the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and including IFIs and regional development banks in text on the central role of the UN.


WG II addressed the section on green economy (paragraphs 50-67) on Wednesday, completing its first reading of the text. Outstanding issues were then referred to an informal group, chaired by Canada, for resolution and streamlining. Discussions focused on the title of the section, how to reference CBDR, objectives of green economy, SCP, whether green economy is a common undertaking, green economy approaches by business and industry, and technology transfer.

The G-77/China, opposed by the Republic of Korea and Switzerland, called for changing the title to “Framing the Context of the Green Economy Challenges and Opportunities as well as Other Visions, Models and Approaches to Sustainable Development.”

On CBDR, in text affirming that implementation of a green economy should be guided by the Rio principles, the G-77/China preferred references to equity and CBDR. The Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland preferred the CST language.

On objectives of green economy, the G-77/China suggested respecting national sovereignty over natural resources. The EU added a sub-paragraph on respecting human rights, while the G-77/China added sub-paragraphs on avoiding increasing the financial burden on developing countries and the “financialization” of natural resources.

On the green economy as a common undertaking, lowering environmental impacts, integrating social and environmental costs into decision-making, and partnerships, the US, the EU, Canada and the Republic of Korea said they could go along with current text with minor adjustments. The G-77/China preferred a full quotation of Rio Principle 2 on sovereign rights of states to exploit their own resources.

On SCP, the G-77/China added a paragraph recognizing that strong and urgent action on SCP patterns is fundamental, and, in text recognizing the power of communications technology, called for technical cooperation and transfer of technology.

On green approaches by business and industry, the G-77/China said this should be in accordance with national legislation. Norway, Australia and Switzerland supported referencing the UN Global Compact principles of corporate social responsibility. The EU preferred incorporating the UN Global Compact in a different manner as well as acknowledging the importance of microenterprises.

On technology transfer, the G-77/China, in text recognizing the power of communications technology, called for technical cooperation and transfer of technology. The G-77/China, opposed by Japan, suggested reaffirming the objective to promote technology transfer to developing countries “on favorable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms.” The G-77/China proposed financial support for developing countries to collect data, in relation to text on gathering information and data. The EU said “national efforts by” developing countries “should be supported.”

Norway noted that the entire section failed to reference the full participation of men and women in a green economy, which they added to the text.

In reporting to WG II on Friday, Canada said two broader issues had emerged in the informal group, including: whether to characterize green economy as a common undertaking or in the context of support for developing countries; the need for consistent use or deletion of the indefinite article “a” in front of green economy; and ensuing consistency and placement of references to data and information collection.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed ad referendum to a single paragraph underscoring the importance of governments taking a leadership role in developing policies and strategies through an inclusive process.

A number of issues remain unresolved, including the title of the section. Unresolved substantive issues include, inter alia:

•  recognizing different approaches, models and tools;

•  whether green economy policies should be guided by international law, including human rights law, in addition to the Rio principles, and whether to reference CBDR;

•  what green economy should do;

•  whether implementing green economy is a common undertaking;

•  recognizing strong and urgent action on SCP; and

•  integrating social and environmental costs into policy making.


WG II addressed this section, aiming to set out the vision of the framework for sustainable development governance, particularly within the UN system. WG II first took up this issue on Wednesday, and finished the first reading of the text on Thursday. The outstanding issues in all subsections were then referred to an informal group, facilitated by Norway, for resolution and streamlining.

A. Strengthening the Three Dimensions of Sustainable Development: This subsection (paragraphs 68-69) was first addressed on Wednesday. Most delegations indicated their acceptance of the original text on strengthening the three dimensions of sustainable development. Delegates agreed on four sub-paragraphs, including on participation of developing countries in various governing structures and mechanisms. However, previously agreed language was reopened in the process of discussion.

On public participation, the G-77/China and the US asked for deletion of an EU amendment on granting civil society representatives “enhanced consultative status.” The G-77/China bracketed an EU proposal for “a mechanism of periodic review” of sustainable development commitments, suggesting instead language on reviewing progress on commitments to provide financial resources and technology transfer.

Draft Outcome Document:Delegates agreed ad referendum on the importance of a strengthened IFSD. They also agreed on sub-paragraphs on the objectives of a strengthened IFSD to:

•  promote balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development;

•  take an action- and result-oriented approach;

•  underscore the importance of interlinkages among key issues and challenges;

•  engage high level political leaders, provide policy guidance and identify specific actions to promote effective implementation;

•  enhance coherence, and reduce fragmentation and overlap; and

•  increase effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.

Outstanding issues include placement of CBDR and enhancing and strengthening monitoring and review of implementation of all commitments related to SIDS.

B. Strengthening Intergovernmental Arrangements for Sustainable Development: First addressed by delegates on Wednesday, text in this subsection (paragraphs 70-72) was agreed by the close of negotiations Saturday. Norway, Canada, the EU, Australia and Japan said the CST on this section was generally very good. In text underscoring the need to promote cooperative efforts to better integrate the three pillars of sustainable development, Norway, opposed by the G-77/China, suggested promoting a system-wide strategy in the UN system in order to promote cooperative efforts.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed to three paragraphs within this subsection ad referendum, including on: acknowledging the vital importance of an inclusive, transparent, reformed and strengthened, and effective multilateral system; underscoring strengthening UN system-wide coherence and coordination; and emphasizing the need for an improved and effective IFSD addressing the shortcomings of the current system. A new subsection was created, entitled “General Assembly” (paragraphs 73-74), with two paragraphs agreed ad referendum: reaffirming the role and authority of the UN General Assembly; and reaffirming the central position of the UN General Assembly.

ECOSOC: This issue (paragraphs 75-76) was first addressed Wednesday. The WG held an initial discussion on two paragraphs on ECOSOC, with Mexico suggesting specific language to define more focused functions for ECOSOC on sustainable development issues.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed to reaffirm that ECOSOC is the principal body for policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on issues of economic and social development and for the follow up to the MDGs. The paragraph reaffirming the need to strengthen ECOSOC remained bracketed.

High level political forum: This issue (paragraphs 77-80) was first addressed Wednesday, with delegates discussing the functions of a high level political forum, which could possibly replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The EU said text on civil society is weak and the section needs language on the termination of the CSD. On functions, the EU identified ten key points: strengthened leadership; enhanced policy dialogue; ability to set the agenda and respond to issues; better integration of the pillars; better implementation through assessment of performance; sharing best practices and a review mechanism; strengthened coherence and coordination among agencies; improved science-policy interface; broadened and deepened participation by all stakeholders; and strengthened synergies to address overlap.

The US said they would like to see stronger language on ECOSOC’s functions especially in relation to a possible high level forum on sustainable development that might be convened. She said convening a forum seems very useful, but the US does not support the establishment of a council, but noted the possible value of a sustainable development outlook report, under ECOSOC.

Mexico noted the need for a mechanism to support national and international sustainable development efforts, saying the CSD is missing implementation. Norway called for discussing basic functions, and leaving the forum for decision by high level political leaders. She identified several important characteristics, including universal membership and enhanced participation of civil society.

Japan did not support a sustainable development council and called for enhanced involvement of political leaders, meaningful dialogue, better integration of the three pillars, involvement of civil society and avoiding bureaucracy and huge conferences. Canada emphasized avoiding duplicative structures with overlapping mandates and creating new resource implications.

The US and the G-77/China reserved on establishing a high level representative for sustainable development and future generations, while the EU, Liechtenstein, Mexico and Switzerland supported the idea.

Norway reported on Friday and Saturday that the informal group, having met on both days, spent much of their time identifying the functions delegates would like to see for whatever body emerges from negotiations as an improved framework for sustainable development, without prejudging its form. She said this list would be used in further deliberations and, inter alia, includes possible functions such as providing: a high-level intergovernmental common space or forum; political leadership and guidance; and a dynamic platform for high-level dialogue, stock-taking, and agenda setting. She emphasized the informal nature of the list saying it was not agreed language.

Draft Outcome Document: Text in this section remained unchanged except for introduction of a list of possible functions for a strengthened institutional framework. The list, heavily bracketed, includes as possible functions:

•  provide high level common space, forum or body with universal participation or membership;

•  provide political leadership and guidance, and recommendations to enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development;

•  provide a dynamic platform for high level dialogue, stocktaking and agenda setting;

•  follow up implementation of the sustainable development commitments contained in Agenda 21 and the JPOI, the outcome of this Conference, and other relevant outcomes;

•  review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments to ensure accountability and promote effective implementation or review progress in the implementation of sustainable development through a dynamic mechanism allowing member states to share experiences, challenges and lessons learned on a voluntary basis;

•  promote sharing of best practices and experiences;

•  have a focused, dynamic, action-oriented agenda, ensuring consideration of new and emerging challenges;

•  encourage high level participation of UN agencies, funds and programmes, as well as IFIs;

•  improve system-wide coherence and coordination of sustainable development policies;

•  enhance coordination and mainstreaming of sustainable development in the operational activities of the UN;

•  secure enhanced participation of, and promote partnerships among, Major Groups and other stakeholders or ensure the engagement of all relevant stakeholders in accordance with decisions taken by ECOSOC;

•  strengthen the science-policy interface through review of documentation bringing together dispersed information and assessments;

•  enhance evidence-based decision-making at all levels and track global progress on achieving sustainable development;

•  utilize or build on the strengths of existing structures or bodies;

•  avoid overlap with existing structures and bodies;

•  build on the experience and resources of the CSD, which would be terminated or would continue;

•  not create additional financial implications; and

•  contribute to monitoring and evaluating commitments related to means of implementation and facilitate provision of financial resources, capacity building and technology transfer to developing countries.

C. EnvironmentAL Pillar / UNEP: This subsection (paragraphs 81-85) was first addressed Thursday. Several delegates supported the CST on the environmental pillar, but introduced amendments after the text was reopened. The G-77/China suggested replacing the title of the subsection “Environmental Pillar” with “UNEP,” but others indicated it contains issues other than UNEP.

On strengthening the role of UNEP, amendments were introduced on its aims and objectives. A discussion ensued on whether this should be discussed in connection with alternative paragraphs on UNEP’s future status (universal membership of the Governing Council or establishing a specialized agency), with delegates deciding not to address this as a package. Norway, supported by the US, proposed establishing an executive board in the Governing Council. The G-77/China suggested giving the Governing Council authority to lead and set the global policy agenda, the EU added “policy advice, early warning and reviewing the state of the environment,” and Norway added “advancing environmental law.” The G-77/China included reference to financial resources from the UN regular budget. Several amendments addressed improved coordination among multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) while respecting their legal autonomy and mandates. The G-77/China reformulated text on capacity building to include support for country-driven processes including through technology transfer. There was agreement on UNEP continuing to be based in Nairobi. The EU proposed text on ensuring full association of all relevant stakeholders and enhancing their participation.

On alternative versions regarding the future of UNEP, Turkey and the Republic of Korea expressed preference for the specialized agency option, and the US, the Russian Federation and Canada objected.

On stressing the need for continuation of regular review of the state of the Earth: Norway preferred “Earth’s changing environment and its impact on human wellbeing;” Switzerland the “Earth’s ecosystems;” and the EU, the Earth “and its carrying capacity.” The G-77/China proposed alternative text taking note of the Global Environmental Outlook process.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed ad referendum on a paragraph reaffirming the need to strengthen international environmental governance within the context of the IFSD.

Outstanding issues remaining in the text include: committing to strengthen the role of UNEP; inviting the UN General Assembly to strengthen UNEP; establishing a UN specialized agency for the environment; recognizing that UNEP should not turn into an environmental inspection body or compliance mechanism for developing countries; encouraging further measures by MEAs to improve coherence at all levels; and how to reference the Global Environmental Outlook.

D. IFIs and UN Operational Activities: This subsection (paragraphs 86-91) was first addressed on Thursday evening. Japan reframed language on reaffirming the need to continue strengthening participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making to better reflect “changes in the world economy.” The US proposed an alternative paragraph reaffirming the importance of “recent decisions” on governance reform in international decision-making.

Delegates agreed on text calling for further mainstreaming of the three pillars of sustainable development throughout the UN system. On appropriate measures for integrating the dimensions across UN operational activities, the G-77/China and Mexico, in reference to increasing financial contributions to the UN, stressed “core resources, because of their untied nature.”

On Saturday, Slovakia, on behalf of members of the ECOSOC Bureau, including Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico and Spain, presented a proposal for a paragraph resolving that the General Assembly and ECOSOC should immediately begin a process that will maximize the UN’s main strengths to undertake the full implementation of the provisions of the outcome document.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed to two paragraphs recognizing the need for the UN system, IFIs, the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other relevant entities to duly consider sustainable development, and calling for further mainstreaming the three pillars of sustainable development throughout the UN system. Disagreement on outstanding issues in the text remain on: how to reference the Bretton Woods Institutions with regard to strengthening participation of developing countries; whether to refer to the quadrennial comprehensive policy review; and language calling on the UN system to set an example of sustainability management in its facilities and operations.

Regional, National, Sub-National and Local: This subsection (paragraphs 92-97) was first discussed on Thursday. The G-77/China proposed alternative language recognizing that integrated social, economic and environmental data and information is important to decision-making processes. The US proposed alternate text encouraging action at the national, sub-national, regional and local levels to promote access to information, public participation and access to justice.

Draft Outcome Document: Delegates agreed ad referendum to paragraphs: acknowledging the importance of the regional dimension of sustainable development; emphasizing that regional and sub-regional organizations have a significant role in the integration of the pillars of sustainable development; and underlining the need for more coherent and integrated planning at national, sub-national and local levels.

Outstanding issues in the text include: recognizing that integrated social, economic and environmental data and information is important to decision making processes; encouraging all countries to enact effective legislation enabling sustainable development; and resolving to establish an international mechanism under the UN General Assembly to promote, implement and monitor technology transfer from developed to developing countries.


This section makes up approximately half of the entire document, and contains a chapeau and sections on thematic areas and cross-sectoral issues, and on SDGs (referred to in previous drafts as accelerating and measuring progress). Means of implementation (MOI) has now been made into a separate Section VI.

A. THEMATIC AREAS AND CROSS-SECTORAL ISSUES: Delegates addressed the section throughout the week in WG I and informal groups. This section of the summary provides an overview of negotiations on key issues, and a brief outline of the draft outcome document as it stood at the conclusion of the meeting. Except where noted that a paragraph was agreed ad referendum, text remains bracketed.

Chapeau: The text addresses ways and means in order to achieve the objective of the Conference, namely to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, as well as to address the themes of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Poverty eradication: WG I addressed the subsection on Tuesday. The G-77/China suggested merging the text to highlight its key elements, including references to the 2015 target date of the MDGs, the need for economic growth, social protection, and the emphasis on least developed countries, particularly in Africa. Delegates also discussed the contribution of social services and social protection systems, with the US proposing deleting reference to promoting “universal” access to social services and the EU suggesting additional reference to supporting ongoing international efforts, including the International Labour Conference’s recommendation on social protection floors.

An informal group on the issue was established, facilitated by the EU, but did not meet during the session, because of coordination and schedule-related reasons.

Draft Outcome Document: Three paragraphs address: uneven progress in reducing poverty; the role of sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth as a key requirement for eradicating poverty and hunger and achieving the MDGs; and the contribution of social services to development gains.  

Food security: WG I addressed the subsection on Tuesday. Delegates focused on the need to streamline the text, with the G-77/China noting the need to highlight gaps, proposals to overcome them and links to MOI, thereby deleting all other language. Major areas of disagreement concerned: the right to food; nutrition security alongside food security; and trade in agricultural products, including reference to eliminating barriers and policies that distort production and trade.

Delegates also debated several targets suggested by the EU on: achieving by 2020 an increase of access of small-holder farmers, especially women in rural areas, to agricultural land, markets and finance, training, capacity building, knowledge and innovative practices; reducing food waste throughout the food cycle by 2030; and achieving by 2020 an increase of global agricultural productivity based on sustainable agriculture. Many noted the proposals’ late submission and potential duplication with the SDGs discussion, while the G-77/China reiterated their position to have a comprehensive discussion on goals and targets in the context of the SDGs only.

There was agreement ad referendum on a paragraph on the role of healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture for food security and nutrition.

NGOs stressed the importance of a rights-based approach to address hunger and food insecurity for vulnerable groups. Women called for strengthened language on women’s and indigenous peoples’ rights in the context of agriculture and food security. Farmers stressed food sovereignty, rural women and artisanal fisheries.

Facilitated by the US, an informal group on the issue made progress in differentiating between matters related to the drafting, cross-cutting issues and more controversial issues such as those related to the right to food. On Saturday, the US announced that the group’s meeting was adjourned because the G-77/China was unable to participate.

Draft Outcome Document: The heading remains pending: food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture or sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition. Ten paragraphs address: access to food, progressive realization of the right to food, and food security; the need to revitalize the agricultural and rural development sectors; increase of agricultural production and productivity; sustainable agriculture; livestock production systems; the role of healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture (agreed ad referendum); agricultural extension services and education; the Committee on Food Security; excessive food price volatility; and the multilateral trading system.

Water: WG I addressed the subsection, including four additional paragraphs suggested by the EU, on Tuesday. Debate focused on text on the human right to water, with Canada proposing an alternative paragraph on the scope and realization of the human right to water and sanitation, and the G-77/China, the EU and Switzerland preferring the original text.

Delegates also discussed target-related text proposed by the EU, including identifying 2030 as a target for: realizing sustainable and equitable access to safe and clean drinking water and basic sanitation; and significantly improving the implementation of integrated water resource management at local, national and transboundary levels to maintain and achieve good water status and protect ecosystems and protect natural resources.

The US, supported by Switzerland, New Zealand and Norway, suggested adding language from the previous Co-Chairs’ suggested text on recognizing the key role that natural ecosystems, especially wetlands and forests, play in maintaining freshwater quantity and quality, and supporting efforts to protect and sustainably manage these ecosystems.

Women called for a rights-based approach to sustainable development, including language on the right to water and sanitation.

An informal group on the issue, facilitated by Iceland, made progress on the text and agreed ad referendum on one paragraph underlining the importance of water and sanitation within the three dimensions of sustainable development.

Draft Outcome Document: The heading remains pending to reflect water or water and sanitation. Seven paragraphs address:

•  reiterating the importance of integrating water in sustainable development and underlining the critical importance of water and sanitation within the three dimensions of sustainable development (agreed ad referendum);

•  commitments made in the JPOI and the Millennium Declaration regarding halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation;

•  human right to water and sanitation;

•  role of ecosystems in maintaining fresh water quantity and quality;

•  water infrastructure;

•  measures to improve water quality, reduce water pollution and protect water-related ecosystems; and

•  cooperation on integrated water resources management.

Energy: WG I addressed this subsection on Tuesday. Canada, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Japan and Belarus supported the text as suggested by the Co-Chairs. The EU proposed amending the heading to “Sustainable Energy.” Regarding a paragraph on the role of energy in the development process, the EU suggested underlining the strong interdependence between energy, water and food security. Regarding a paragraph on access to energy services, Kazakhstan, opposed by the US, proposed encouraging the elaboration of a plan of action, taking into account available ecological resources, in order to promote equitable opportunities for both developing and developed countries. Delegates also debated: a paragraph on achieving the Secretary-General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative and its aspirational goals; and a paragraph on subsidies.

Regarding the role of energy technologies in addressing climate change and in achieving the objective of limiting global average temperature increase, the EU, supported by the G-77/China and Norway, proposed specifying limiting such increase below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The G-77/China further suggested taking into account the principle of CBDR and historical responsibilities. Canada referred to UNFCCC text on “respective capabilities,” rather than “historical responsibilities.” The Russian Federation cautioned against excessive detail, and the US suggested avoiding duplication with language in the subsection on climate change.

Draft Outcome Document: The heading remains unresolved, as “Energy” or “Sustainable energy.” Six paragraphs address: the role of energy in the development process; the need to address the challenge of access to and affordability of sustainable modern energy services for all; support for the implementation of national and sub-national policies; cleaner and energy-efficient technologies in addressing climate change; the Secretary-General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative and its goals; and subsidies.

Sustainable tourism: Two paragraphs were previously agreed ad referendum and were not addressed at this session.

Sustainable transport: WG I addressed the subsection on Tuesday. The G-77/China, opposed by the US and the EU, requested deleting references to the need for reducing pollution and emissions, and for clean fuels and vehicles. Mexico suggested an additional paragraph on encouraging non-motorized mobility.

An informal group, facilitated by Australia, agreed ad referendum on a paragraph regarding the role of sustainable transport in sustainable development; and made progress on text on the development of sustainable transport systems, and the Mexican proposal on non-motorized mobility.

Draft Outcome Document: Three paragraphs address: the role of sustainable transport to sustainable development (agreed ad referendum); support for the development of sustainable transport systems; and non-motorized mobility.

Sustainable cities: WG I addressed the subsection on sustainable cities and human settlements on Tuesday. The US and Mexico urged consideration of urban green spaces. The G-77/China stressed the importance of planning and technical assistance. Local Authorities prioritized: cohesion of territories beyond municipal boundaries; protection of urban biodiversity; and recognizing the work of organizations working on cities. An informal group facilitated by Canada had only limited discussions and did not finalize its work.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection on sustainable cities and human settlements includes four paragraphs addressing: the need for a holistic approach to urban development and human settlements; promoting an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities; increasing the number of metropolitan regions, cities and towns implementing policies for sustainable urban planning and design; and partnerships among cities and communities.

Health: This subsection was addressed in WG I on Tuesday and in an informal group facilitated by Canada. Debate focused on: references to sexual and reproductive health and rights; the role of intellectual property rights including use of flexibility for the protection of public health provided under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); and the cross-cutting issue of reference to vulnerable groups or persons in vulnerable situations.

In addition to a paragraph on communicable diseases remaining a serious global concern agreed previously, agreement ad referendum was reached on text on demographic change and development strategies.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection on health and population includes nine paragraphs on:

•  recognizing that health is a precondition for, an outcome of, and an indicator of all three dimensions of sustainable development;

•  equitable universal health coverage;

•  communicable diseases as serious global concerns (agreed ad referendum);

•  the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases;

•  use of the flexibilities for the protection of public health provided for in the TRIPS Agreement;

•  collaboration and cooperation to strengthen health systems;

•  demographic change and development strategies (agreed ad referendum);

•  implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development; and

•  reducing maternal and child mortality and improving the health of women, adolescents and children.

Jobs: WG I addressed the subsection on promoting green jobs, full and productive employment, decent work for all, and social protection on Wednesday. Delegates debated: the heading; references to “green jobs;” and paragraphs on social protection and international migratory labor. An informal group facilitated by the EU reached ad referendum agreement on two paragraphs addressing the need to enhance employment and income opportunities for all, and committing to work towards safe and decent working conditions and access to social protection and education with regard to informal unpaid work performed mostly by women. Remaining unresolved issues concern references to green jobs and migration, including rights of migrant workers.

Draft Outcome Document: The heading remains outstanding, with options including: promoting green jobs, full and productive employment, decent work for all and social protection; promoting full and productive employment, decent work for all and social protection; or promoting full and productive employment, decent work for all, including green jobs, and social protection. Ten paragraphs address:

•  the links between poverty eradication, full and productive employment and decent work and social integration and protection;

•  labor market conditions and deficits of work;

•  job creation;

•  enhancing employment and income opportunities in both rural and urban areas (agreed ad referendum);

•  rights of workers;

•  commitment to work towards safe and decent working conditions and access to social protection and education with regard to informal unpaid work, performed mostly by women (agreed ad referendum);

•  green job creation;

•  sharing of experiences on ways to address unemployment;

•  social protection; and

•  migration and development, including rights of migrant workers.

Oceans and seas: WG I addressed the subsection, including three additional target-related paragraphs proposed by the EU, on Wednesday. Debate focused on the role of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with the EU introducing language indicating that UNCLOS provides the overall legal framework for ocean activities and Turkey proposing a number of amendments reflecting its reservation regarding UNCLOS. On the possible development of an UNCLOS agreement on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), South Africa, Maldives, Brazil, Nauru, Micronesia, India, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, Ecuador, Monaco, Argentina, Philippines, Fiji, Barbados and Uruguay suggested initiating, as soon as possible, negotiations on an implementing agreement to UNCLOS that would address the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ. Mexico and the EU supported the negotiations’ conclusion by 2016, and Australia suggested providing recommendations to the 68th session of the UNGA. Japan requested retaining the original text on the work of the UNGA WG on BBNJ, but deleting reference to possible development of an agreement. The Russian Federation cautioned against pre-judging the outcome of the WG.

Delegates also debated text on: the impact of pollution on marine ecosystems; ocean fertilization, including reference to the precautionary principle, approach or approaches; restoring depleted fish stocks; and fisheries subsidies. The NGO Major Group Ocean Cluster highlighted, among others, concluding a new UNCLOS agreement for the conservation and management of BBNJ, and adopting a timeframe for the elimination of harmful fishing subsidies by 2015.

An informal group, facilitated by Australia, reached ad referendum agreement on eight paragraphs and made progress on several others.

Draft Outcome Document: Twenty paragraphs address:

•  conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and coastal areas, and the role of UNCLOS;

•  an invitation to ratify UNCLOS;

•  capacity building and technology transfer;

•  support towards the UNGA Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment (agreed ad referendum);

•  area-based conservation measures, including marine protected areas;

•  the work of the UNGA WG on BBNJ and negotiation of an UNCLOS implementing agreement;

•  marine pollution;

•  the threat of alien invasive species (agreed ad referendum);

•  sea level rise and coastal erosion (agreed ad referendum);

•  ocean acidification (agreed ad referendum);

•  ocean fertilization;

•  restoring depleted stocks;

•  the Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) instruments on fisheries;

•  illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;

•  the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing;

•  subsidies;

•  the need for transparency and accountability in regional fisheries management organizations (agreed ad referendum);

•  capacity-building strategies for conservation and sustainable use, including through improved market access for fish products from developing countries (agreed ad referendum);

•  access to fisheries and markets by subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fishers and indigenous peoples (agreed ad referendum); and

•  contributions of coral reefs (agreed ad referendum).

SIDS: An informal group facilitated by Monaco addressed text on SIDS without reaching agreement.

Draft Outcome Document: Three paragraphs address: SIDS as a special case for sustainable development; implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action; and an invitation to UNGA 67 to determine the modalities of the Third International Conference for the Sustainable Development of SIDS in 2014.

Regions: WG I considered text proposed by the G-77/China addressing development needs of LDCs, LLDCs, Africa, the Arab region, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific region on Friday. The US and Canada said the text was proposed at a very late stage and would require considerable effort to balance and streamline, and expressed concern that it lacks balance and does not address countries’ domestic responsibilities to achieve sustainable development and poverty alleviation. The EU expressed readiness to consider the text on the LDCs, proposing language to agree to effectively implement the Istanbul Programme of Action and its priority areas into the Framework for Action, the broader implementation of which will contribute to the Istanbul Programme of Action’s overarching goal of enabling half of the LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020.

An informal group facilitated by Monaco reached initial agreement on text on the LDCs, and made progress regarding language on LLDCs and Africa.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection includes paragraphs on: the LDCs, the LLDCs, Africa, the Arab region, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific region.

Disaster risk reduction: An informal group facilitated by Japan addressed this subsection, the main outstanding item being the links to MOI.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection includes four paragraphs addressing: accelerating implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015; early warning systems; inter-linkages among disaster risk reduction, recovery and long-term development planning, as well as disaster risk reduction and climate change; and cooperation and coordination.

Climate change: WG I addressed the subsection on Tuesday. Regarding vulnerability to climate change, the G-77/China, opposed by the EU and others, requested deleting specific reference to LDCs. The G-77/China, opposed by Switzerland, the US, Japan and others, wished to include references to CBDR within paragraphs on protecting the climate system. The Russian Federation, supported by Japan, suggested alternative language on the gap in climate change mitigation efforts, while Mexico requested deletion of a reference to UNFCCC COP 17 outcomes. The US, supported by Norway, and opposed by Switzerland and the G-77/China, re-introduced a paragraph on short-lived climate pollutants.

An informal group facilitated by Barbados made progress on minor elements but not on major areas of divergence.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection contains five paragraphs on: protection of the climate system for present and future generations; international responses to climate change; funding mobilization; interlinkages among climate change and other issues such as water, energy and food; and short-lived climate pollutants.

Forests: WG I addressed the subsection on Tuesday. Delegates debated, among others, a target aiming at halting global forest cover loss by 2030 and whether the Non-legally Binding Instrument on all Types of Forests (NLBI) is the only global policy framework. The G-77/China suggested alternative language from the Ministerial Declaration of the high-level segment of the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, calling for creating the conditions needed for people and communities in developing countries to sustainably manage forests.

An informal group facilitated by the US addressed the sections on forests, biodiversity and mountains.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection includes three paragraphs on: the social, economic and environmental benefits of forests to people and the contributions of sustainable forest management; urgent implementation of the NLBI; and integrating sustainable forest management objectives and practices into the mainstream of economic policy and decision-making.

Biodiversity: WG I addressed the subsection, and an additional target proposed by the EU, on Tuesday. Delegates discussed, among other issues: the need to keep the text in line with language agreed in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); merging two paragraphs addressing access and benefit-sharing (ABS) and the Nagoya Protocol on ABS; a paragraph on the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); and the role of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), its benefits for local people, and the importance of basing species listings on best available scientific advice. The EU suggested alternative language regarding commitment to urgent action to ensure the achievement by 2020 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Australia proposed highlighting the importance of managing biodiversity at landscape and seascape scales, enhancing habitat connectivity and building ecosystem resilience; and supporting the greater use of traditional knowledge, with prior informed consent. Mexico suggested that cooperation and partnerships refer to all three CBD objectives, rather than only conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection on biodiversity contains nine paragraphs on:

•  the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the severity of biodiversity loss;

•  commitment to the three CBD objectives and importance of implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020;

•  the Nagoya Protocol on ABS;

•  measures to implement the rights of countries of origin of genetic resources;

•  the CBD Strategy for Resource Mobilization;

•  biodiversity mainstreaming into relevant programmes and policies;

•  cooperation and information exchange;

•  the role of CITES; and

•  the establishment of IPBES.

Desertification: WG I addressed the subsection on desertification, land degradation and drought, and an additional goal and target proposed by the EU, on Tuesday.

The EU added references to soil degradation, and proposed committing to arriving at zero net land and soil degradation within an internationally agreed timeframe. The US called for focus on arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid ecosystems. The G-77/China, opposed by the US and Mexico, supported considering an intergovernmental panel for the provision of scientific advice.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection includes five paragraphs on:

•  the economic and social significance of good land and soil management (agreed ad referendum);

•  commitment to achieve a land degradation neutral world in the context of sustainable development;

•  supporting and strengthening implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and its 10-Year Strategic Plan and Framework;

•  methods and indicators for monitoring and assessing the extent of desertification, land degradation and drought; and

•  cooperation, forecasting and early warning systems (agreed ad referendum).

Mountains: This subsection was discussed briefly in WG I, and in an informal group facilitated by the US.

Draft Outcome Document: Three paragraphs address: the role of mountain ecosystems; indigenous peoples and local communities; and efforts toward mountain ecosystem conservation. It remains to be decided whether the EU’s request for “polar regions” to be added to this section will be accepted.

Chemicals and waste: WG I addressed the subsection, and an additional 2020 target regarding the sound management of chemicals proposed by the EU, on Wednesday. Delegates debated proposals to delete the entire subsection or individual paragraphs. The G-77/China suggested a reference to financial assistance for building capacity for chemical management. Mexico proposed references to resource mobilization. The EU introduced additional 2030 targets on global management of waste as a resource and significant reduction of landfills. Women called for incorporation of the precautionary and polluter pays principles, and industry contributions to fund clean-up.

An informal group facilitated by Mexico reached agreement ad referendum on paragraphs reaffirming the commitment to achieve by 2020 sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle and of hazardous waste, and on new and innovative public-private partnerships; as well as merging text.

Draft Outcome Document: Eleven paragraphs address:

•  reaffirming the aim to achieve by 2020 sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle and of hazardous waste (agreed ad referendum);

•  effective implementation and strengthening of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM);

•  lack of capacity for sound management of chemicals and waste;

•  increased coordination and cooperation among chemicals and waste conventions;

•  public-private partnerships;

•  adopting a life-cycle approach and further developing and implementing policies for resource efficiency and environmentally sound waste management;

•  preventing the unsound management of hazardous wastes and their illegal dumping;

•  science-based risk assessment;

•  the mercury negotiations;

•  the phase-out of ozone depleting substances and the corresponding increase in the use and release of high global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); and

•  the Consultative Process on Financing Options for Chemicals and Waste.

Sustainable consumption and production: WG I addressed the subsection, and an additional goal and targets proposed by the EU, on Wednesday. Delegates discussed, among other issues: text related to the adoption of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on SCP, and EU proposals on reaching an absolute decoupling of economic growth from natural resource use and significantly improving global resource efficiency.

Draft Outcome Document: Eight paragraphs address:

•  SCP as one of the overarching objectives of sustainable development;

•  enhancing efforts to achieve sustainable changes in consumption and production patterns;

•  ending wasteful and unsustainable practices in the use and extraction of natural resources;

•  integration of social and environmental costs;

•  widespread adoption of sustainable procurement;

•  promoting the commitment of organizations, corporations and institutions to social and environmental responsibility;

•  processes for developing product standards and other mechanisms; and

•  the 10YFP on SCP.

Mining: WG I addressed the subsection on Wednesday. Canada, with the US, proposed recognizing the importance of strong and effective legal and regulatory frameworks. The G-77/China requested deletion of text on the mining industry being “managed, regulated and taxed properly,” and on improving revenue and contract transparency. On preventing conflict minerals from entering legitimate supply chains, Canada suggested exploring new ways of accomplishing this with industry and other stakeholders.

An informal group facilitated by Canada made progress on text and identified the main controversial issues as being references to legal and regulatory frameworks and conflict minerals.

Draft Outcome Document: Two bracketed paragraphs address: the contribution of minerals and metals to the world economy and modern societies and countries’ sovereign right to develop their mineral resources; and a call for legal and regulatory frameworks for the mining sector that deliver economic and social benefits and include effective safeguards that reduce social and environmental impacts as well as conserve biodiversity.

Education: WG I addressed the subsection on Wednesday. The US, opposed by the EU and Switzerland, bracketed “equal” in text affirming full and equal access by all people to quality education. The G-77/China requested special consideration of indigenous peoples, local communities and ethnic minorities.

An informal group on education and gender facilitated by Norway achieved progress by reaching agreement ad referendum on five paragraphs and general agreement on the sixth one.

Draft Outcome Document: Six paragraphs address:

•  the right to education (agreed ad referendum);

•  better quality and access to education beyond the primary level (agreed ad referendum);

•  cooperation (agreed ad referendum);

•  education for sustainable development (agreed ad referendum);

•  adoption of sustainability practices by educational institutions; and

•  support to research and innovation for sustainable development (agreed ad referendum).

Gender: The subsection on gender equality and women’s empowerment was addressed in the informal group on education and gender facilitated by Norway. Significant progress was achieved, with four paragraphs agreed ad referendum. Welcoming progress, Women called for attention to land tenure security for women.

Draft Outcome Document: The subsection on gender equality and women’s empowerment includes eight paragraphs on:

•  women’s vital role and full and equal participation and leadership in all areas of sustainable development and accelerating the implementation of respective commitments (agreed ad referendum);

•  prioritizing measures to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in all spheres, including the removal of barriers to their full and equal participation in decision-making (agreed ad referendum);

•  repeal of discriminatory laws and removal of formal barriers, ensuring among others equal access to justice and legal support (agreed ad referendum);

•  promoting the collection, analysis and use of gender sensitive indicators;

•  ensuring full and equal rights and access of women to productive resources through the rights to own property, inheritance, credit and to financial and extension services along the entire value chain;

•  equal access of women and girls to education, basic services, economic opportunities and health care;

•  gender equality and the effective participation of women as important for effective action on all aspects of climate change; the role of the UN System, including UN Women (agreed ad referendum); and

•  integration of gender considerations in decision making.

B. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: WG I completed a first reading of this section on Thursday, with subsequent discussions taking place in an informal group chaired by Barbados, which met twice, but did not have enough time to address all paragraphs.

Regarding the nature of the SDGs, the US called for them to be “aspirational” and voluntary, and the G-77/China emphasized that they should be “universally applicable, but nationally driven.” There was overall consensus that the SDGs should complement and not detract from existing commitments, such as the MDGs.

Delegates discussed a paragraph on SDG priorities, with Norway and other developed countries supporting the listing of examples of specific focus areas, such as water, food and energy, and cross-cutting issues, such as good governance and gender equality. The G-77/China said this was premature, that Rio+20 should only launch a process to develop themes and other details, and requested the paragraph’s deletion.

Another area of contention was the process of SDG development, with the EU suggesting the UN Secretary-General should lead this, while the G-77/China favored establishing an intergovernmental process under the UN General Assembly that is “inclusive, transparent and open to all stakeholders.”

Delegates also discussed how to measure progress in meeting the SDGs. While some developed countries supported establishing global indicators and targets, the G-77/China stated that it was premature to determine how the SDGs will be measured.

On SDG reporting, several developed countries suggested this issue should be addressed under the section on thematic areas and cross-sectoral issues, with the US adding that the UN Statistical Commission, rather than the UN Secretary-General, is the appropriate place for this work. The G-77/China called for deletion of this paragraph.

Children and Youth urged consultation with youth on the SDGs. Women called for a rights-based approach to establishing SDGs that considers gender and poverty. The Scientific and Technological Community expressed concern that the nexus of science, technology and sustainable development is not currently reflected in the draft.

Draft Outcome Document: The text in this section remains mostly bracketed, with only one of the nine paragraphs agreed ad referendum, confirming the importance of the MDGs.

The remainder of the text reflects diverging views on several key areas, such as the level of detail of the SDG process that will be established at Rio+20, including whether specific issues to be prioritized will be listed, and details on monitoring and reporting. The text also contains two fairly distinct options for the development of the SDGs: either to be initiated by the Secretary-General, or by the UN General Assembly. It also remains to be seen whether a paragraph on the limitations of gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of well-being and sustainable development will be retained, along with a proposal to develop “science-based and rigorous methods of measuring sustainable development, natural wealth and social well-being.”


This section was discussed on Thursday and Friday in WG I, with additional discussions taking place in an informal group facilitated by Barbados. Negotiations focused on subsections on finance, technology, capacity building, trade, and registry of commitments.

In the chapeau, the EU added a reference to human rights as essential for economic growth. The G-77/China suggested deletion of paragraphs on national ownership and leadership, good governance and rule of law.

A. FINANCE: Canada and the US said Rio+20 is not a pledging conference and called for deleting reference to increased provision of financing and the target of 0.7% of gross national product for official development assistance (ODA). The G-77/China proposed: reaffirming the commitment to double the ODA for Africa and pledging to undertake timely measures in this regard; and committing to “increase the core resources” for operational activities of the UN development system. He also proposed that developed countries commit to providing new and additional resources exceeding US$30 billion per year from 2013-17 towards promotion of sustainable development, with a pledge to enhance mobilization of US$100 billion per year from 2018 onwards; and work towards setting up a financial mechanism, including a possible sustainable development fund.

Norway, supported by the Republic of Korea, highlighted the importance of fighting corruption, and added reference to illicit capital flows, while the G-77/China called for the paragraph’s deletion. The EU and Norway proposed adding a reference to an inclusive development partnership, transparency and accountability.

The US, supported by the Republic of Korea, proposed adding text emphasizing resource mobilization from sources other than developed country governments, and offered alternative text based on language agreed in the 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development.

The EU expressed support for achieving existing commitments on ODA and resource mobilization but noted the G-77/China proposal exceeds any projection on resource mobilization. Japan and Canada also expressed reservations on the proposal.

B. TECHNOLOGY: Several developed countries insisted on technology transfer being voluntary and on mutually agreed terms and conditions, and on deletion of text on the impact of patent protection and intellectual property rights, while the G-77/China sought “new flexibilities in the intellectual property rights regime.” The G-77/China maintained its position on the establishment of an international mechanism to facilitate technology transfer under UNGA. The US, Japan and Canada requested deletion of this, while the EU supported its retention, clarifying that transfer of technologies would be voluntary.

C. CAPACITY BUILDING: Delegates agreed ad referendum to most of the text, as well as to a proposal by Japan to refer to “capacity building and development.” Kazakhstan proposed, and delegates agreed, to refer to the participation of scientists from both developing and developed countries. The G-77/China reserved on text on ways and means for capacity building.

D. TRADE: On reaffirming the importance of increasing market access for developing countries, Australia and New Zealand, opposed by the Republic of Korea, said language on resisting protectionist measures and trade-distorting measures should apply especially to those affecting developing countries, “in particular agricultural subsidies.” Japan suggested using agreed language to fully recognize the rights and obligations of members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Kazakhstan, for LLDCs, called for referencing LLDCs in text on capacity building by international economic and financial institutions to ensure developing countries, in particular LDCs, are able to benefit from the multilateral economic system and seize trade-related opportunities. New Zealand said achieving the positive impact of trade liberalization on developing countries depends on international support for measures against policies and practices distorting trade.

In text on eliminating market distorting and environmentally harmful subsidies, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Mexico said it is important to send a signal on this issue. The EU suggested calling on the WTO and UNCTAD, in cooperation with UNEP, to continue monitoring and assessing progress on harmful subsidies. Canada preferred “substantial reductions” of subsidies rather than phasing them out, while the EU called for gradual elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies that are incompatible with sustainable development.

The G-77/China said the entire trade section should be streamlined into three paragraphs that address six issues: recognizing the flexibility provided for in WTO rules; resisting protectionist tendencies and measures to guard against them; high level support for the conclusion of the Doha development agenda; recognizing special and differential treatment; focusing on capacity building; and recognizing that trade is an engine for sustained economic growth and development.

E. REGISTRY OF COMMITMENTS: The G-77/China proposed deleting this subsection. The US supported retaining it, and suggested inviting the Secretary-General to compile commitments voluntarily entered into at Rio+20 in an internet-based registry, and to facilitate access to other registries.

Draft Outcome Document: Only three of 45 paragraphs in this section were agreed ad referendum on capacity building for sustainable development, including strengthening technical and scientific cooperation, implementation of the UNEP Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building, and assessment and monitoring.

Major differences of opinion remain over: technology transfer, including the establishment of a related UNGA mechanism to help bridge the technological gap between the developed and developing countries; finance, including the role of ODA, specific amounts of financial support for developing countries, the inclusion of anti-corruption and good governance provisions, and the role of the private sector; and trade, most notably on the role of the WTO, and the elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies.


At 5:00 pm on Saturday, Co-Chair Kim invited Major Groups to address the closing plenary. Indigenous Peoples and NGOs Commons Cluster highlighted the need for robust regulatory frameworks and indigenous peoples’ free prior and informed consent to address social and environmental impacts of mining; and noted that green economies must recognize indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources. Children and Youth and NGOs called for a global convention on Rio Principle 10; universal health coverage without exception; a strategy for youth employment; and addressing violence towards women.

Co-Chair Kim noted the meeting’s accomplishments in relation to previous sessions, stressing delegates are now in full negotiating mode and have gained confidence they can deliver a good outcome document to the world. Highlighting that the outcome document at the beginning of the session had 297 paragraphs with only 19 agreed ad referendum, while now it has 329 paragraphs with 70 agreed ad referendum, he reiterated the need for a sense of urgency and an action-oriented and forward-looking outcome. On the process forward, he said delegates at Rio will address the outcome of this session, as the Co-Chairs will not issue any new text, and noted that establishment of splinter groups will be as limited as possible.

UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang shared his sense of real progress and willingness to find common ground, but emphasized the need to drastically accelerate the pace of negotiations. Recalling the objective of Rio+20 and stressing the need for governments’ commitment to action and voluntary commitments from all stakeholders, he outlined key deliverables, including:

•  launching a process to define SDGs in the context of a post-2015 development framework;

•  agreeing to explore green economy policy options as tools to advance sustainable development and poverty eradication;

•  making decisions on key elements of the IFSD, noting that a high-level intergovernmental body on sustainable development with universal membership seems to enjoy broad support;

•  strong, action-oriented outcomes in the sectoral and cross-sectoral areas in the Framework for Action;

•  the need for progress on the MOI, including reaffirmation of past commitments and initiatives to strengthen financing, technology transfer and capacity building; and

•  strong engagement of civil society and the private sector for implementation, noting progress in strengthening corporate sustainability reporting and accountability.

Following applause in recognition of Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, and his contribution to the process, Co-Chair Kim gaveled the session to a close at 5:45 pm.


One month ago, delegates did not expect to return to New York for an additional round of negotiations on the UNCSD outcome document. Yet with two weeks to go before the final PrepCom meeting in Rio, a third round of informal-informal consultations was convened by the PrepCom Bureau, who realized that the homestretch was upon them with little in terms of a solid document that could be approved by world leaders at the UNCSD from 20-22 June. Many perceived another negotiating round as an obligation to reach agreement on the text in good faith, especially its most contentious portions. Success was badly needed as the clock continues to tick down to Rio.

Yet many observers and negotiators recognized they were working against a political backdrop not terribly conducive to a successful preparatory process—negative trends seem to be mounting with the economic drift, financial shocks, a troubled Euro and the traditionally harsh political impact of a US election year. The vacillation of some world leaders who haven’t firmly decided on whether to attend Rio+20, the absence of any references to the UNCSD in recent international summits, including the outcome of the G8 Summit, are all indicative of shifting priorities and a lack of engaged leadership.

This brief analysis will address the importance of the latest round of informal consultations in New York, its dynamics and implications for the conference, focusing on historical context, process and issues still to be resolved.


Such was the rueful comment of one observer. For him, the latest informal negotiating session confirmed the risk of Rio+20 becoming a poor shadow of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)—the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. The Earth Summit had the benefit of extensive meticulous preparation with ample Secretariat and expert input. In the case of UNCED, the outcome was truly substantive: the lasting Rio Principles and Agenda 21. While the UNCSD must live up to this historic meeting, it is not clear whether the current preparatory process will culminate in something comparable, particularly given the absence of a grand vision and driving leadership.

The “zero draft” emerged from 6000 pages of submissions that became a 200-page “compilation text.” The initial 19-page “zero-draft” that emerged in January, ballooned to over 206 pages in March before resulting in an 80-page version tabled by the Co-Chairs on 22 May. By the end of this session, it had only grown by six pages and, as Co-Chair Kim Sook noted on Saturday, 70 paragraphs had been agreed ad referendum, with 259 paragraphs still bracketed. While this may not seem like much of a success, this marked an improvement from the 21 agreed paragraphs and 401 bracketed ones at the beginning of the week.

However, many remained frustrated, with some delegates convinced the preparatory process, through a coincidence of circumstances, was flawed from the start. They complained (albeit unfairly in some instances) that it lacked strong leadership from the Secretariat and some wished that Brazil, as host country, would play a more inspirational and practical role in the negotiations. Many delegates at this session were particular unhappy with the organization of work, the uneven chairing styles, and the modest role of the PrepCom’s Bureau, whose members seemed reluctant to wield authority to spur on negotiations.

The problem of informal drafting groups haunted the negotiations until the last day. The unintentionally but aptly named “splinter groups” proliferated to over 20, precluding participation of small delegations, giving rise to complaints and consequently a feeling of denial. Many felt that the groups were convened too late in the process. The inability of many delegates to attend all of the groups, the dearth of strong facilitators and Secretariat support resulted in confusion on what had actually been debated and agreed. Indeed, in several instances during the closing hours on Saturday, delegations asked to re-bracket ostensibly agreed passages, just to be on the safe side. One long-time participant commented that an unexpected factor—information technology—had hit the preparatory process with a vengeance: instant communication led to “excessive” 24-hour control from capitals, sapping negotiators’ initiative and slowing down negotiations. “Rarely has a drafting process been so erratic,” observed one delegate. The disorder anesthetized the sense of urgency with some delegations acting as if they had months to go. Yet time was slipping away like sand in an hourglass.


Admittedly, there are substantive reasons for the disarray and snail-like pace of drafting. The first is the enormous range and sheer complexity of issues addressed in the draft outcome document, embracing as it does the three pillars of sustainable development. The second is the lack of early consensus on the parameters of the main issues on Rio+20 agenda—green economy, the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), and the more recently introduced sustainable development goals (SDGs). As expected, these issues plagued negotiations in New York despite the new Co-Chair’s text, which many considered to be well crafted, an improvement on previous drafts and based on realistic assumptions of what may be acceptable to all.

Some saw it as shifting gears: the text was designed to avoid battles over controversial decisions with uncertain results, by suggesting that Rio “launch” new processes so that the big issues could be resolved at a later stage, rather than taking final decisions on SDGs or the high-level sustainable development forum. The conciliatory draft raised hopes, which were almost immediately dashed by amendments from the EU and the G-77/China, which quickly turned from a trickle into a torrent. Once the Co-Chairs’ text was opened, there was little holding back. Predictably, the G-77/China reinserted a number of references to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity, against the expected objections of developed countries. For their part, the EU insisted on specific targets, introducing language under most thematic areas with specific targets to achieve goals by 2030, including biodiversity—against the objections of the US and developing countries, which claimed the EU was trying to impose its own agenda. In a “free for all” melee, some delegations tried to insert language on issues that they were unable to satisfactorily address in other fora, like marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, thus draining energy and precious negotiating time, and resulting in accusations of “forum shopping.”


This third round of informal consultations conducted a thorough examination of all of the issues in the outcome document and provided insights into the limits of what governments may agree to and where their “red lines” might lie. Some bracketed language was clearly kept for last-minute trade-offs, including common but differentiated responsibilities, sustainable consumption and production, as well as monitoring and follow-up. Some delegations remained skeptical of proposals like the creation of a post of a high representative for future generations, which one delegate said had an unclear mandate. A number of observers expect that these bargaining chips will be quickly traded in the final negotiations.

The bottom line was that the unresolved substantive problems are too political with long-term implications to be resolved by mid-level negotiators in New York; they will have to be decided at the last PrepCom in Rio, possibly at the conference itself. The most important issues are difficult to trade, and these are what delegates will have to resolve as they try to cross the last bridge—the three-day PrepCom in mid-June (although there was talk that it will be extended until the first day of the conference). Among the major sticking points are SDGs, their relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) review process (the MDGs will lapse in 2015) and the method of their elaboration: should it be a Secretariat-driven process or an intergovernmental negotiation (the latter preferred by G-77/China and some others)? Delegates will also have to figure out how to deal with the EU insistence on “deliverable” concrete targets and goals.

Another issue still on the table is the idea to establish an intergovernmental high-level political forum, building on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and other relevant bodies. Since this could mean a major restructuring of IFSD, many countries are wary of the implications, including overlapping mandates. Without prejudging the outcome of negotiations, delegates discussed the possible functions of the high level political forum, represented in a heavily bracketed list, an as yet unknown entity (the “ghost,” in the words of a delegate). The future of UNEP is another outstanding issue—should it be upgraded to universal membership of its Governing Council, or transformed into a specialized agency? The US, the Russian Federation and several others have strongly objected to the latter option, which means that the EU, the passionate proponent of the specialized agency option, faces an uphill task in Rio. Acceptable modalities for green economy will also require hard bargaining.

The onus for the outcome of the informal consultations may be the result of a number of factors, but it is a fair reflection of the current state of affairs. The world has changed since 1992, which was a time of optimism at the end of the Cold War and the dawn of a new era in multilateralism. 2012 is a time of recession and economic uncertainty, the pessimism of today is in dark contrast with the optimism of 1992. Perceptions still differ considerably: what is common sense for some appears as arrogance for others. Least developed countries are worried they are being forgotten in the process, and the problem of “means of implementation” will not disappear. The consultations have shown that “building on Agenda 21” is no easy task, and no consecutive “Rio+xx” will automatically find a place on an exhilarating trajectory extending into a bright future. Substantive differences are bound to dominate the negotiations in Rio before the closing gavel.

“We are near, and yet so far,” said UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang in his closing remarks. While complete success at the informal informals proved elusive and much of the text remains heavily bracketed, it was not a complete loss; some large portions of the text are now agreed. Perhaps most importantly, the fault lines have been defined, positions clearly articulated, and all amendments tabled. Still, the process has been erratic, and the informal session closed with tempers running high. In the last minutes on Saturday, some delegations reserved on whole sections of text, a sign that positions have not yet softened. Nevertheless, the general feeling was upbeat, one of relief and even reserved satisfaction. As a civil society observer noted, the preparatory process should not be seen in too pessimistic a light, as centering on a single issue—the outcome document. Negotiating the road to Rio has already had positive repercussions around the world: it has brought sustainable development into sharper focus, and spawned citizens’ groups with a renewed desire to sway government negotiations (interestingly, NGO representatives were seen sitting in on informal contact groups without objections raised from delegates). The activists of “Occupy Rio+20” are a sign that the bleak world economic situation has actually promoted sustainable development awareness, and has put people’s well-being, socioeconomic equity and environmental health in a strong public spotlight. Yet it remains to be seen whether the renewed spirit of activism will be reflected in an ambitious outcome that gives hope to future generations.


101st Session of the International Labour Conference: This session is expected to consider employment and social protection in the new demographic context, sustainable development, decent work and green jobs.  dates: 30 May - 15 June 2012  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: ILO Secretariat  phone: +41-22-799-6111  fax: +41-22-798-8685  email: www:

Youth Blast: This event is organized by the UNCSD Major Group of Children and Youth as the official young people’s event for Rio+20. The objectives are to: empower children and youth present at Rio+20; provide information and training for leaders; and provide a space for young people to share best practices for implementing solutions and participating in decision-making at the international level. dates: 7-12 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  email:  www:

Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development: This Forum will provide a space for interdisciplinary scientific discussions, and dialogue between scientists, policy-makers, Major Groups and other stakeholders. Key messages and conclusions from the Forum will be reported to the UNCSD.  dates: 11-15 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Maureen Brennan  phone: +33-1-4525-0677  fax: +33-1-4288-9431  email: www:

Third PrepCom for UNCSD: This meeting will take place in Brazil prior to the UNCSD.  dates: 13-15 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: www:

Global and Regional Research Workshop on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Systems: This workshop is organized by the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, and will focus on the production of SCP research, as well as its communication and application in practice. The workshop is by invitation only.  dates: 13-15 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Philip Vergragt  email: www:

Rio Conventions Pavilion at Rio+20:This event is a collaborative outreach activity of the Secretariats of the Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD and CBD), the GEF, and 25 other international, national and local partners. It aims to promote and strengthen synergies between the Rio Conventions at implementation levels by providing a coordinated platform for awareness-raising and information-sharing about the linkages in science, policy and practice between biodiversity, climate change and combating desertification/land degradation.  dates: 13-22 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Rio Conventions Pavilion  phone: +1-514-288-6588  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email: www:

SD-Learning: This capacity-building event provides participants with practical knowledge and training through multiple courses on aspects of sustainable development.  dates: 13-22 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: www:

ICLEI - 2012 World Congress: This triennial congress will address themes including: green urban economy; changing citizens, changing cities; greening events; and food security and how biodiversity protection can be integrated into municipal planning and decision-making.  dates: 14-17 June 2012  location: Belo Horizonte, Brazil  contact: ICLEI World Secretariat  phone: +49 228 97 62 9900  fax: +49 228 97 62 9901 email: www:

First GLOBE Summit of Legislators: The summit will be hosted by the Government of Brazil, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, GLOBE International and GLOBE Brazil, attended by heads of Senates, Congresses, Parliaments, and Chairs of relevant parliamentary committees, to negotiate a legislators’ protocol to be ratified in the respective legislatures of the participating parliaments.  dates: 15-17 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: GLOBE International  phone: +44-0-20-7222 6955  fax: +44-20-7222-6959  email: www:

Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want: The forum will give business and investors an opportunity to meet with governments, local authorities, civil society and UN entities in highly focused workshops and thematic sessions linked to the Rio+20 agenda.  dates: 15-18 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UN Global Compact Office  phone: +1-212-907-1347  fax: +1-212-963-1207  email: www:

Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice in Defense of the Commons: The Peoples Summit is being organized by 150 organizations, entities and social movements from various countries, and is scheduled to take place alongside the UNCSD. The objective of the Summit is to request governments to give political power to the Conference.  dates: 15-23 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  email: www:

Fair Idea: Sharing Solutions for a Sustainable Planet: The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is working with partners in Brazil and with international networks and alliances, to organize a series of simultaneous presentations and discussions around four key themes: shaping Sustainable Development Goals; urbanization that improves lives; business models for sustainability; and transforming economic systems for people and planet.  dates: 16-17 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: IIED  phone: +44 (0) 20 3463 7399  fax: +44 (0)20 3514 9055 email: www:

Sustainable Development Dialogues: Organized by the Government of Brazil with the support of the UN, this civil society forum will be held in the context of the UNCSD. Civil society representatives will debate: sustainable development for fighting poverty; sustainable development as an answer to the economic and financial crises; unemployment, decent work and migration; the economics of sustainable development, including SCP; forests; food and nutrition security; sustainable energy for all; water; sustainable cities and innovation; and oceans. Their recommendations will be conveyed to the Heads of State and Government present at Rio+20.  dates: 16-19 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  email: www:

Oceans Day at UNCSD: The Global Ocean Forum will organize “Oceans Day” during the thematic days immediately preceding the UNCSD.   date: 16 June 2012location: Rio Conventions Pavilion, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   contact: Miriam Balgos, Program Coordinator, Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands   phone: +1-302-831-8086   fax: +1-302-831-3668   email:   www:

World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability: This event, organized by UNEP, aims to promote global consensus among relevant stakeholders engaged in the development of law, chief justices and senior judges, attorneys-general and public prosecutors involved in the interpretation and enforcement of law. dates: 17-20 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Cristina Zucca  email: www:

Global Town Hall at Rio+20: The meeting is convened by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.  Discussions will address how local governments can best contribute to global targets for protecting global common goods, how to “green” the urban economy and how to improve global and local governance systems.  dates: 18-22 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Monika Zimmerman  phone: +49-228/976 299-30 www:

Rio+Social: This event, organized by Mashable, 92nd Street Y, Ericsson, Energias de Portugal and the UN Foundation, is an “in-person gathering and global, online conversation on the potential of social media and technology to power a more innovative and better future for our world”.  date: 19 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and worldwide  contact: Aaron Sherinian phone: +1-202-887-9040  www:

Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) 2012 Business Day: This is the official UN Major Group Business and Industry event, organized by the International Chamber of Commerce, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UN Global Compact. It is intended as a platform for interaction between business leaders and policy-makers with the theme: “Achieving Scale.” It will feature a series of concurrent sector-oriented dialogues on, inter alia, agriculture, chemicals, oceans, energy and forestry, a high-level luncheon, and dialogues and panel discussions on such themes as access to energy, food security, green economy, sustainable consumption, and international governance.  date: 19 June 2012 location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: Peter Paul van de Wijs, WBCSD phone: +41-22- 839-3141 www:

Partnership Forum at Rio+20: The Partnership Forum will showcase contributions of partnerships to the implementation of sustainable development. Sessions will: showcase best practices; discuss how partnerships can advance the implementation of the agreements reached at Rio+20; identify successful models and opportunities for replication and scale up; and promote discussions on more effective accountability measures.  dates: 20-22 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email:  www:

UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20): The UNCSD will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit), which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. dates: 20-22 June 2012  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: www:

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Anna Schulz, Elsa Tsioumani, Andrey Vavilov, Ph.D., Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., and Peter Wood, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Dan Birchall. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). General Support for the Bulletin during 2012 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute – GISPRI), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Belgium Walloon Region, the Province of Québec, and the International Organization of the Francophone (OIF and IEPF). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 320 E 46th St., APT 32A, New York, NY10017-3037, USA.