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Summary report, 13–22 June 2012

UNCSD (Rio+20)

The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), Pre-Conference Informal Consultations Facilitated by the Host Country, and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. During their ten days in Rio, government delegations concluded the negotiations on the Rio outcome document, titled “The Future We Want.” Representatives from 191 UN member states and observers, including 79 Heads of State or Government, addressed the general debate, and approximately 44,000 badges were issued for official meetings, a Rio+20 Partnerships Forum, Sustainable Development Dialogues, SD-Learning and an estimated 500 side events in RioCentro, the venue for the Conference itself.

In closing the Conference, UNCSD President Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) stressed that Rio+20 was the most participatory conference in history and was a “global expression of democracy.” Taking place in parallel to the official events, approximately 3,000 unofficial events were organized throughout Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Governments and the Rio Conventions organized Pavilions showcasing their experiences and best practices, and the Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, a Global Town Hall, a People’s Summit, the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability and spontaneous street actions were just a few of the many events around the historic city of Rio de Janeiro, discussing the Rio+20 themes and the broader requirements for sustainable development implementation.

Participants at Rio+20 were encouraged to make voluntary commitments for actions to implement the conference’s goals, and almost 700 had been received by the close of the Conference, with financial commitments from governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups reaching US$513 billion. Among the financial commitments, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a partnership between the US and African nations, with US$20 million in funding, to unlock private financing for clean energy projects in Africa and beyond. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pledged US$6 million to UNEP’s fund targeting developing countries, and US$10 million towards climate change challenges in Africa, least developed countries, and small island developing states. A similar pledge had been offered earlier in the meeting by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. José Manuel Durão Barroso, President, European Commission (EC), announced the EC would mobilize €400 million to support sustainable energy projects. Koichiro Gemba, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Japan, announced funding for a three-year programme of disaster risk reduction, and eight multilateral development banks pledged to invest US$175 billion over the next 10 years to support the creation of sustainable transport systems.

The agreement adopted in Rio calls for the UN General Assembly (UNGA), at its next session, to take decisions on, inter alia: designating a body to operationalize the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production; determining the modalities for the third international conference on small island developing states, which is to convene in 2014; identifying the format and organizational aspects of the high-level forum, which is to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme (UNEP); constituting a working group to develop global sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be agreed by UNGA; establishing an intergovernmental process under UNGA to prepare a report proposing options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy;  and considering a set of recommendations from the Secretary-General for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies.

In addition, the UNGA is called on to take a decision in two years on the development of an international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Furthermore, the UN Statistical Commission is called on to launch a programme of work on broader measures to complement gross domestic product, and the UN system is encouraged, as appropriate, to support industry, interested governments and relevant stakeholders in developing models for best practice and facilitate action for the integration of sustainability reporting. The text also includes text on trade-distorting subsidies, fisheries and fossil fuel subsidies.

While many had held out hope that Rio+20 would launch new processes and significantly alter the international framework —from establishing a new High Commissioner for Future Generations, to upgrading the UN Environment Programme to the status of a specialized agency, to identifying significant means of implementation, to establishing concrete targets and a “roadmap” for the green economy—the UNCSD outcome document was much more modest. But while some criticized the document for “kicking the can” down the road and missing an opportunity to boldly redirect sustainable development actions, others focused on the upcoming opportunities within the UNGA and other fora to shape the true Rio+20 legacy.

In her closing statement, UNCSD President Rousseff also said that Rio+20 had demonstrated that multilateralism is a legitimate pathway to build solutions for global problems. The negotiations on the outcome text had taken place over the past two years, and as the outcome document had swelled to over 200 pages at points with limited signs of movement towards consensus text, many had expected the full ten days in Rio would be filled with the long nights and brinksmanship that have characterized recent multilateral environmental negotiations. At the end of the meeting, delegates complemented Brazil for its leadership during the Pre-Conference Informal Consultations, during which the organizing country developed a revised draft, facilitated three days of discussions, encouraged delegates to suggest changes to the draft, and facilitated final agreement prior to the opening of Rio+20 itself. Delegates at UNCSD adopted the final report for Rio+20 on 22 June 2012. Following statements by President Rousseff, UN officials and governments—including a number of reservations—the meeting closed at 8:41 pm to the strains of a rousing musical anthem and an invitation to return to Brazil for the World Cup. There was praise across the board for the host country’s achievements in bringing the most participatory summit in history to a satisfactory conclusion, while views on the main political outcome were somewhat mixed and many participants and observers chose to suspend judgment.


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development marked the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference that specifically had the word “environment” in its title. The UNCSD was charged with securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing progress and implementation gaps in meeting previously-agreed commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges. In addition, the UN General Assembly called for the conference to 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 the establishment of 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 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, inter alia, 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 UNGA 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.

COUNTRY-LED INITIATIVES: A number of countries co-organized and hosted meetings in the lead up to the UNCSD. These meetings included: the High-Level Dialogue on IFSD, from 19-21 July 2011, in Solo, Indonesia; the Delhi Dialogue on Green Economy and Inclusive Growth, from 3-4 October 2011, in New Delhi, India; the Bonn 2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus, from 16-18 November 2011, in Bonn, Germany; the High-Level Expert Meeting on the Sustainable Use of Oceans, from 28-30 November 2011, in Monaco; the Eye on Earth Summit, from 12-15 December 2011, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; the USRio+2.0 Conference, from 2-4 February 2012, in Palo Alto, California, US; and the Stockholm+40: International conference on sustainable living and innovative solutions, from 23-25 April 2012, in Stockholm, Sweden. An international science conference, the “Planet Under Pressure” conference, met in London, UK, from 26-29 March 2012.

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 2012, 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 from 23 April - 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.

THIRD “INFORMAL INFORMAL” CONSULTATIONS: The third round of “informal informal” consultations on the draft outcome document took place from 29 May - 2 June 2012 at UN Headquarters. Delegates discussed an 80-page revised draft text produced by the Co-Chairs, working 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.


The third meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (PrepCom III) was scheduled to take place for three days, from 13-15 June 2012, based on UNGA Resolution 64/236. The meeting began informally, however, with PrepCom Co-Chair Kim Sook (Republic of Korea) welcoming delegates to Rio de Janeiro on 13 June 2012, and inviting them to continue their consultations on the outcome document. Based on the working method that had been adopted at the third round of informal informal consultations in New York, he explained that “splinter groups” would continue to negotiate the text. UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang said the next three days were “make or break” days, and underscored that “the whole world is watching what we do here.”

Negotiators worked throughout the three days and nights within approximately ten splinter groups and multiple informal consultations, including on outstanding issues in the Rules of Procedure. On Friday, 15 June, negotiators were encouraged to hasten their agreements, as they were informed that organization of the four days in between the closing of PrepCom III and the opening of Rio+20 itself were to be coordinated by the host country.

In an evening plenary on 15 June, PrepCom Co-Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) called to order the first formal meeting of PrepCom III. The meeting elected two new Vice-Chairs, Mootaz Ahmadein Bahieeldin Khalil (Egypt) and Josefina Bunge (Argentina) to represent Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, respectively, replacing outgoing officers. Delegates also adopted the agenda (A/CONF.216/PC/10).

At the suggestion of Co-Chair Ashe, the PrepCom decided that the host country should take over the consultation process until the start of the Conference on 20 June. Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota said much work remained, but that consultations with many delegations have deepened Brazil’s understanding of where efforts need to be concentrated. He announced that the pre-conference informal consultations led by the host country would commence at noon on Saturday, 16 June, on the basis of a revised draft text that would be available earlier that morning. Co-Chair Ashe pledged the Bureau’s support during the consultations.

The Rules of Procedure were adopted on the understanding that eleven rules would remain bracketed, subject to further consultations. The bracketed rules were as follows: 1 (composition of delegations); 21 (points of order); 24 (right of reply); 25 (adjournment of debate); 33 (general agreement); 35 (majority required); 36 (meaning of the phrase representatives present and voting); 37 (method of voting); 39 (explanation of vote); 47 (representation on the Main Committee); and 60 (entities, intergovernmental organizations and other entities that have received invitation to participate).

Tania Valerie Raguž, Rapporteur, introduced the draft report, as contained in document A/CONF.216/PC/L.6, which the Committee adopted. Co-Chair Ashe closed the PrepCom at 12:16 am.

The UNCSD “Pre-Conference Informal Consultations led by the host country” began Saturday afternoon. During an opening plenary, the Brazilian organizers discussed the process that they would use to facilitate consultations on the Rio+20 outcome document. A new consolidated text was released at 5:45 pm, and four negotiating groups were scheduled to meet at 7:00 pm. Instead, delegates requested a plenary meeting to present their initial impressions on the draft, so the day concluded with an hour-long plenary.

During the second and third days of the consultations, delegates were asked to examine new drafts of the paragraphs that had not been agreed ad referendum during the PrepCom, and to propose new options for text they wanted to change. Negotiating groups were facilitated by Brazil’s Minister Maria Teresa Mesquita Pessôa, Amb. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Amb. André Corrêa do Lago, and Amb. Raphael Azeredo. The facilitators indicated that the text should be completed by Monday evening, 18 June, and late Monday it was announced that a plenary would convene at 11:00 pm. At 2:18 am, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota informed the delegates that a final text would be available by 7:00 am the following day, a plenary would convene at 10:30 am, and that he would announce to the press that the elaboration of the text has been concluded. Patriota opened a mid-day plenary on Tuesday, 19 June, and informed waiting delegates that he believed they were in a position to adopt the text to be formally presented at the Conference for adoption. Delegates adopted the text ad referendum and proceeded to make statements supporting the outcome as well as, in some cases, expressing disappointment with specific paragraphs.


The UN Conference on Sustainable Development opened on Wednesday, 20 June 2012. Following the election of officers, adoption of the agenda and other organizational items, delegates conducted a general debate. Over the course of three days, 191 Heads of State or Government, and Vice-Presidents, Ministers and heads of delegation addressed the meeting. The high-level participants also took part in four roundtable discussions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened Rio+20 and introduced a video, titled “Welcome to the Anthropocene,” which was produced for the Planet under Pressure conference, following which Brittany Trilford, winner of the Date with History competition, encouraged leaders to focus on “saving the planet” rather than “saving face.”

ELECTIONS AND ORGANIZATION OF WORK: The Secretary-General called the UNCSD to order at 10:45 am. Delegates elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as President of the Conference, and Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Minister of Foreign Relations, Brazil, as ex officio Vice-President. Delegates adopted the provisional rules of procedure (A/CONF.216/2), the provisional agenda (A/CONF.216/1), the election of 25 Vice-Presidents, accreditation of intergovernmental organizations, and election of the Credentials Committee. On the election of Vice-Presidents, the Conference selected: Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Tajikistan, Botswana, Republic of Congo, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tunisia. The Conference was informed that the election of the additional three Vice-Presidents from the Latin American and Caribbean States would be communicated when the Group had selected them.

Delegates established a Main Committee and selected John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) as its Chair, although the Main Committee did not meet. On 22 June, delegates elected Tania Valerie Raguž (Croatia) to serve as rapporteur.

STATEMENTS BY MAJOR GROUPS: Representatives of each of the nine Major Groups then addressed the plenary. On the outcome document, Women noted, inter alia, lack of: commitment to reproductive rights; a high commissioner for future generations; and recognition of the destruction caused by nuclear energy and mining. Children and Youth noted their “red lines” that were not addressed in the outcome document, including: recognition of planetary boundaries; a high commissioner for future generations; rights to food, water and health; and sexual and reproductive rights. Indigenous Peoples called for the return to dialogue in harmony with Mother Earth, to adopt a new paradigm on living well, and to include culture as a dimension of sustainable development. NGOs said that “we cannot have a document without the mention of planetary boundaries, tipping points and earth’s carrying capacity.” Local Authorities stressed the need for multilevel governance for sustainable development, and a new urban agenda, territorial cohesion and regionalization. Workers and Trade Unions highlighted how the decent work agenda has “built bridges” with environmental policies. Business and Industry said it will continue to bring solutions to the market for inclusive and green growth and that governments should promote enabling policy frameworks for inclusive green growth. The Science and Technological Community underscored that we have entered the Anthropocene and called for Rio+20 to forge a new contract between the science and policy communities. Farmers stressed the need to put food sovereignty at the center of sustainability and said that it is straightforward: “no farmers, no food, no future.”

CEREMONIAL OPENING: In the afternoon on 20 June, President Dilma Rousseff highlighted the decisions of the conference, urging governments not to weaken in their commitments. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said sustainable development is his number one priority, and stressed that it requires leadership. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th session of the UNGA, thanked Brazil for hosting the third international earth summit and noted the role that the UNGA will play in implementing the decisions outlined in the draft outcome document. UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang recognized the leadership of Brazil on sustainable development issues, and stressed that achievement of the UNCSD goals will depend on governments, Major Groups and all participants.


Four round tables took place from 20-22 June, and considered the theme “Looking at the way forward in implementing the expected outcomes of the Conference.” Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Heads of UN agencies and international organizations, representatives from Major Groups, The Elders and the Sustainable Development Dialogues, members of the Global Sustainability Panel and Nobel Laureates presented short statements around the themes of Rio+20 and implementation experiences and requirements, based on questions raised in background document A/CONF.216/4. Summaries of the first three round tables are available at and

The last of the four roundtables took place on Friday morning, 22 June, and was co-chaired by Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda, and Baburam Bhattarai, Prime Minister, Nepal. Flavia Munaaba, Minister of State for Environment, Uganda, served as rapporteur. Heads of State and Government and Ministers emphasized the need for, inter alia: more programmes of action tailored to the needs of small island developing states (SIDS); permanent and coherent guidance for sustainable development goals (SDGs); additional funding for technology transfer related to climate change mitigation and adaptation; increased means of implementation (MOI); considering energy and oceans as themes for the SDGs; enhancing civil society participation; reconsidering consumption and production patterns; adopting financial mechanisms for regional sustainable development programmes; including capacity building as part of all development projects; building capacity in national institutions to effectively and efficiently manage their own internationally-funded development projects; promoting green growth, green technology and green finance; and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

Heads of intergovernmental organizations and UN agencies underscored: the importance of striving for a land-degradation neutral world; support for factoring in nature in national accounts; the need to consider capacity-building needs for SDG monitoring and implementation; the need to address energy poverty; the importance of regional and sub-regional organizations in coordinating development assistance; the need for guidelines for transitioning towards a green economy; and the need for increased synergies between the three Rio Conventions.

Major Groups noted the importance of: developing integrated reporting systems; abolishing fossil fuel subsidies; ensuring SDGs are grounded in science, consider targets, and are participatory and human rights-based; ensuring official development assistance (ODA) focuses on good governance in recipient countries; adopting a clear process addressing how SDGs mesh with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); accelerating scientific information sharing; ensuring full participation of indigenous people in decision-making processes; and ensuring food sovereignty and more sustainable farming practices.

Rapporteurs of the Sustainable Development Dialogues reported recommendations from that event, including: removing harmful subsidies; developing green tax schemes; promoting sustainable public procurement; and requesting each Head of State or Government to identify one city that is the most sustainable and to develop a network for innovation for cities.

The Nobel Laureate and Global Sustainability Panel member stressed, inter alia: ensuring equity; taking urgent action to ensure food, water, and energy; safeguarding biodiversity; re-conceptualizing sustainable consumption and production (SCP); moving beyond gross domestic product (GDP); encouraging innovation; putting a price on natural resources, including carbon; and the need to act now.


During the Conference, 191 speakers addressed the plenary, including 79 Heads of State and Government and 112 Vice-Presidents, Ministers and heads of delegation. Heads of State and Government represented the following 79 countries, in order of their statements: Tajikistan, Zimbabwe, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Tuvalu, Nepal, Barbados, Fiji, Bhutan, Djibouti, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Iran, Guinea, Republic of Korea, China, Kenya, Niger, Peru, France, Chile, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Namibia, Benin, Hungary, Kiribati, Uruguay, Spain, Vanuatu, Central African Republic, Moldova, Guyana, Monaco, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Haiti, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Cape Verde, Cuba, Montenegro, Portugal, Norway, Jamaica, Grenada, Russian Federation, Morocco, Qatar, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Comoros, Marshall Islands, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, India, Lebanon, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Turkey, Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, Switzerland, Swaziland, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Serbia, Denmark, Sweden and Samoa.

Vice-Presidents, Ministers and heads of delegation represented the following, in order of their statements: Sudan, New Zealand, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, European Commission, Angola, Moldova, Burkina Faso, Japan, Bahamas, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, Mongolia, The Gambia, Honduras, Seychelles, Tanzania, Estonia, Slovenia, Mauritius, Finland, Pakistan, Albania, Cameroon, El Salvador, Palestine, Egypt, Myanmar, Burundi, Venezuela, United Kingdom, Viet Nam, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Brazil, Botswana, Mauritania, Israel, Netherlands, Brunei Darussalam, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ireland, Belarus, Eritrea, Belgium, Mali, Ukraine, Liberia, Austria, Ghana, Mexico, Tunisia, Yemen, Suriname, Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Lesotho, United States, Croatia, Thailand, Holy See, Slovakia, Canada, Czech Republic, Iraq, Saint Lucia, Iceland, Malaysia, Libya, Romania, Malta, Belize, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Germany, Bangladesh, Poland, Singapore, Malawi, Italy, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Togo, Panama, Venezuela, Argentine, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Bahrain, Dominica, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Timor-Leste, Liechtenstein, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Tonga and Somalia.

This section highlights some of the topics that were presented on Friday, 22 June. For highlights from statements on Wednesday and Thursday, please visit: and, respectively. Webcasts and written versions of most statements are available at

Macky Sall, President, Senegal, said Africa expects a decision in which UNEP is transformed into a specialized agency or even a global environmental agency. Tomislav Nikolić, President, Serbia, noted the importance of strengthening regional cooperation using regional entities. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister, Denmark, emphasized attention to indigenous peoples and gender issues, and said her country is aiming to be independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister, Sweden, emphasized reproductive rights and called for action related to: ensuring that the prices of natural resources are right; sustainable urbanization; sustainable production and consumption; and access to and sustainable use of energy, as well as water and sanitation. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister, Samoa, highlighted marine resources and called for stronger global commitment to a green economy in a blue world. He also offered to host the 2014 event on SIDS.

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, US, stressed the need to ensure women’s reproductive rights, and announced a partnership between the US and African nations, with US$20 million in US funding, to unlock private financing for clean energy projects in Africa and beyond. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol, Personal Representative of His Majesty the King, Thailand, recognized the risk of breaching planetary boundaries and said that the SDGs and MDGs should be aligned by 2015.

Peter Kent, Minister of Environment, Canada, said he was pleased to see the reaffirmation of the human right to safe drinking water and explained that Canada understands this as aspirational and that it does not include bulk water trade, among other qualifications. Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister for the Environment, Iceland, highlighted that a compact has been made between Iceland and the World Bank on geothermal development in Africa, with focus on the African Rift Valley.

Dato’ Sri Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia, highlighted its target to increase the share of renewable energy in the fuel mix to 10% by 2020. Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany, highlighted Germany’s “energy transformation,” which will close down all nuclear power plants by 2022 and increase the share of renewable energy to at least 80% by 2050.

Marcin Korolec, Minister of Environment, Poland, presented Poland’s Environmental Fund, which was established to fund environmental projects through preferential loans, with additional income raised domestically through environmental fees and fines. Corrado Clini, Minister of Environment and Territory, Italy, announced an additional US$6 million for projects implementing sustainable development activities, especially relating to climate change.

Claudia Salerno, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Venezuela, denounced: the recent coup in Paraguay; the green economy; broken climate finance promises from the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); capitalism; unsustainable consumption; and carbon markets. She called for a new development paradigm, ethic and morality that is humanist and restores balance between man and Mother Earth. Silvia Merega, Ambassador, Director General of Environmental Affairs, Argentina, expressed support for the multilateral system and said the green economy should not be substituted for the paradigm of sustainable development.

Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates, highlighted Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which will feature an international water summit, the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) General Assembly, an International Renewable Energy Conference (IREC) and World Future Energy Summit (WFES). Mok Mareth, Minister of Environment, Cambodia, highlighted the establishment of a National Green Growth Master Plan through cooperation with the Republic of Korea and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). Rayburn Blackmoore, Minister of Energy and Ports, Dominica, presented his country’s target to become carbon negative by 2020. Alfred Lado Gore, Minister of Environment, South Sudan, observed that the environment has been “the first casualty” of war.

Miguel D’Escoto, Minister of International Relations and Borders, Nicaragua, announced a proposal for the “reinvention of the UN,” and promised to circulate it in the six UN languages as well as Portuguese, which he said should be a UN language. José Ramos-Horta, Special Envoy, Timor Leste, proposed the creation of an Asian Fund for Sustainable Development, managed by the Asian Development Bank. Martin Frick, Director, Office of Foreign Affairs, Lichtenstein, announced his country’s pledge to reduce its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, and to increase the share of sustainable energy sources to 20% of the energy mix by 2020.

Robert Aisi, Head of Delegation, Papua New Guinea, emphasized the importance of the Blue Economy, the Coral Triangle Initiative, and the GGGI, of which Papua New Guinea is a founding member. Marlene Moses, Head of Delegation, Nauru, called for early appointment of the Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on SIDS, to be held in the Pacific in 2014.


The outcome of the Conference, titled “The Future We Want” (A/CONF.216/L.1) contains 283 paragraphs and is 53 pages long. It is organized into six sections: Our common vision; Renewing political commitment; Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; Institutional framework for sustainable development; Framework for action and follow-up; and Means of implementation. The following summary presents key points of debate for each section, followed by a summary of the adopted text.

Editor’s note: Only some country or group names in “The Future We Want” are referenced to highlight key positions. For a comprehensive overview of country positions, please refer to our entire Rio+20 process coverage. Archived coverage is available at

I. OUR COMMON VISION: This section of the document was facilitated by Mohamed Khalil (Egypt) and Zaheer Janjua (Pakistan) during the third meeting of the PrepCom and by Amb. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo during the Pre-Conference Consultations.

At the close of PrepCom III, 9 of 13 paragraphs in this section had been agreed ad referendum. Remaining points of contention included: reference to “extreme” poverty and hunger; CBDR; whether to refer to “changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable” or “promoting sustainable” patterns of consumption and production; and the right to food.

Final Outcome: Section I has 13 paragraphs on, inter alia: eradicating poverty and freeing humanity from poverty and hunger; CBDR; recognizing that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development. It also recognizes the importance of freedom, peace and security and respect for all human rights, including the right to development and to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food.

II. RENEWING POLITICAL COMMITMENT: This section was discussed together with Section I of the outcome document (Our Common Vision). Mohamed Khalil (Egypt) and Zaheer Janjua (Pakistan) facilitated the discussions during PrepCom III, while Amb. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo facilitated the Pre-Conference Consultations.

On 15 June, when PrepCom III came to an end, 17 of 43 paragraphs in this section had been agreed ad referendum. Elements that remained in brackets included: the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and its Principles, including CBDR; the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Key Actions for Further Implementation of the Programme of Action, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; the “principle of non-regression” in environmental law; the ongoing discussions on human security in the UNGA; the need for a global strategy on youth and employment; trade; removing obstacles to the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, in particular peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation; territorial integrity; the gap in implementation of commitments; middle-income countries; moving text on climate change, technology transfer and trade to other sections of the text; recognizing the rights of nature; launching a process to develop models of best practices, in relation to corporate sustainability reporting; and mentioning the contributions that NGOs “could” or “do” make to sustainable development. During discussions in Rio, a group also requested changing a reference from “vulnerable groups” to “people in vulnerable situations.”

Final Outcome: Section II is composed of three subsections, titled: Reaffirming the Rio Principles and past action plans; 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; and Engaging major groups and other stakeholders. These subsections include 42 paragraphs on:

•  reaffirmation of all the principles of the Rio Declaration, including, inter alia, CBDR;

•  reaffirmation of the commitment to fully implement the Rio Declaration, other past agreements and the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits, including the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and Key Actions for Further Implementation of the Programme of Action, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action;

•  the need to make progress in implementing previous commitments, and on continued and strengthened international cooperation, particularly in the areas of finance, debt, trade and technology transfer, as mutually agreed;

•  one in five people on this planet still living in extreme poverty, noting the ongoing discussions on human security in the UNGA and on increasing our efforts to achieve sustainable development;

•  support for developing countries in their efforts to eradicate poverty and to promote empowerment of the poor and people in vulnerable situations;

•  the need for sustainable development strategies to proactively address youth employment at all levels and on the need for a global strategy on youth and employment building on the work of the International Labour Organization (ILO);

•  urgent and ambitious action to combat climate change, in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC;

•  refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the UN Charter that impede the full achievement of economic and social development;

•  removal of obstacles to the full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, and that this shall not be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state;

•  recognition of the special challenges facing the most vulnerable countries as well as the specific challenges facing middle-income countries;

•  recognizing the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development;

•  encouragement of industry, interested governments as well as relevant stakeholders to develop models for best practice and facilitate action for the integration of sustainability reporting; and

•  the valuable contributions that non-governmental organizations could and do make in promoting sustainable development.

III. GREEN ECONOMY IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY ERADICATION: “Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” was one of the principal themes of the UNCSD, based on the UNGA decision that established the Conference. During PrepCom III, delegates addressed this section in a series of “splinter groups” facilitated by Patrick Wittmann (Canada). On the second day of the PrepCom splinter group, the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) withdrew from negotiations for one evening, noting that insufficient progress had been made on their demands in the negotiations on MOI. The G-77/China resisted European Union’s (EU) language on a transition to a green economy, viewing this as too prescriptive. They advocated a more flexible approach, viewing the green economy as one of the tools for approaching sustainable development. Switzerland provided compromise language on green economy policies for the transition towards sustainable development. The G-77/China pressed for language on social inclusion, and for a linkage between sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and the principle of CBDR. The EU complained about the prevalence of negative terms referring to the green economy, and the US questioned G-77/China language referring to the burden on developing countries.

In a paragraph on sustainable patterns of production and consumption, biodiversity and natural resources, growth, and lifestyle change, a number of delegations expressed difficulty with references to lifestyles. The EU, US and Japan insisted on a qualifying reference to conditionalities in the context of ODA, inserting the word “unwarranted.” The G-77/China objected to language on “green jobs” and the US provided compromise text on job creation. On the integration of social and environmental factors, the G-77/China noted that developing countries did not have the capacity for full cost accounting.

By the PrepCom’s closing plenary, about half the text in this section, seven paragraphs and five subparagraphs, had been agreed ad referendum.

The Pre-Conference Informal Consultations, facilitated by Amb. André Corrêa do Lago (Brazil) focused on a number of cross-cutting issues, including those being addressed in the Means of Implementation discussions. There was some frustration that text being proposed relied on older documents, some dating back 20 years. The facilitator responded that everything that has happened during the past 20 years had been enabled, in part, by documents agreed 10 and 20 years ago. He said no country has a green economy, and while some sectors, companies and cities have made progress, there was no country that is not also protecting traditional jobs and businesses. The facilitator told delegates that he would note their comments that had addressed a number of unresolved issues.

Final Outcome: This section affirms that there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country to achieve sustainable development, and the green economy is considered one of the important tools, guided by the Rio Principles, Agenda 21, the JPOI and contributing to the MDGs. A paragraph on green economy policies addresses, inter alia:

•  national sovereignty over natural resources;

•  participation by all relevant stakeholders;

•  sustained and inclusive growth;

•  international cooperation on finance, among other matters;

•  unwarranted conditionalities on ODA;

•  trade discrimination;

•  technology gaps;

•  indigenous peoples and non-market approaches;

•  poverty eradication;

•  social protection floors;

•  SCP; and

•  overcoming poverty and inequality.

On implementation of policies, there is recognition that each country can choose an appropriate approach, resource efficiency, equitable growth and job creation, and of the importance of evaluating a range of social, environmental and economic factors in decision making. On partnerships and networks, the document notes positive experiences in some countries, including in developing countries, of adopting green economy policies. There is recognition of the power of communication technologies, of linking finance, technology and capacity building, and in emphasis on the importance of governments in showing leadership. Relevant stakeholders, including the UN regional economic commissions and other UN bodies, international organizations, intergovernmental organizations and Major Groups are invited to support developing countries’ efforts, and business and industry are invited to develop sustainability strategies that integrate green economy policies. This section also addresses the role of cooperatives and micro-enterprises, public-private partnerships, the critical role of technology and technology transfer with reference to the JPOI, and assistance.

IV. INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: During the PrepCom, delegates met in a splinter group that was facilitated initially by Marianne Loe (Norway) and then by Idunn Eidheim (Norway). Negotiations continued during the Pre-Conference Informal Consultations, with sessions facilitated by Amb. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo (Brazil) and informal discussions facilitated by Amb. Luis Alfonso de Alba (Mexico).

A. Strengthening the Three Dimensions of Sustainable Development: In this subsection, delegates discussed civil society engagement, with differences persisting over the venues for stakeholder involvement and placement of the related text, and on concerns over monitoring roles.

Final Outcome: The document agrees, inter alia, to: strengthen IFSD, including by promoting the “full and effective participation of all countries in decision making processes”; promote the review and stocktaking of progress in implementation of all sustainable development commitments, including those related to MOI; and enhance the participation and “effective engagement” of civil society. It calls for capacity building especially for developing countries, including in conducting their own monitoring and assessments.

B. Strengthening Intergovernmental Arrangements for Sustainable Development: This subsection includes the UNGA, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the high-level political forum. The splinter group considered, among other issues, a proposal on the establishment of a sustainable development council in the form of a special high-level session of ECOSOC. On the high-level political forum, the splinter group agreed it should have five key functions: agenda setting; follow-up; civil society engagement; science-policy interface; and UN system coordination. Delegates agreed on the need for high-level system-wide participation of UN agencies, funds and programmes with other relevant multilateral bodies, and a report for policy-makers that would integrate social, economic and environmental data assessments.

Further discussions during the Pre-Conference Consultations focused on: the relationship of the proposed high-level political forum with ECOSOC; avoiding duplication of ECOSOC and UNGA functions, and differentiation from the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD); the future of the CSD during the transition; timeline; referring to “participants” or “members”; and whether its functions should include monitoring or agenda setting. There was a request to reinsert a paragraph establishing a high commissioner for future generations.

Delegates finally agreed that the high-level forum “could” rather than “will” undertake certain functions. A new sentence was inserted on “the need for promoting intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations,” inviting the Secretary-General to present a report.

Final Outcome: The document calls for the UNGA to further integrate sustainable development in its work, including through high-level dialogues. It commits to strengthening ECOSOC, and looks forward to the Review of the Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of ECOSOC.

It decides to establish a universal intergovernmental high-level political forum, building on the CSD and its “inclusive participation modalities” and “subsequently replacing” the CSD. The high-level forum “could,” inter alia: follow up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments made at previous UN summits and conferences; and strengthen the science-policy interface including in the form of a global sustainable development report. An intergovernmental process under the UNGA will define its format and organizational aspects, with the aim of convening the first high-level forum at the 68th session of the UNGA.

The outcome document also invites the Secretary-General to present a report on the needs of future generations.

C. Environmental Pillar in the Context of Sustainable Development: The splinter group agreed to establish universal membership of the UNEP Governing Council, and discussed but did not agree to establish an executive body to enhance oversight between sessions. Delegates introduced text about implementation in the UN system of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building. Differences persisted over use of the term “voluntary” with reference to transfer of technology, and informal discussions focused on the proposal to transform UNEP into a specialized agency, financing and other issues. Throughout the UNCSD negotiating process, the EU and the African Group called for transforming UNEP into a UN Environment Organization, which was opposed by the US, Canada, Japan and others.

Final Outcome:The document invites the UNGA, during its 67th session, to adopt a resolution strengthening and upgrading UNEP by, inter alia:

•  establishing universal membership in its Governing Council;

•  strengthening its engagement in key UN coordination bodies;

•  providing capacity building as well as facilitating access to technology;

•  progressively consolidating headquarters functions in Nairobi as well as strengthening its regional presence; and

•  ensuring the active participation of all relevant stakeholders, drawing on best practices and models from relevant multilateral institutions.

It also encourages parties to multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) to consider further measures for enhancing coordination and cooperation.

D. International Financial Institutions and UN Operational Activities: Delegates discussed sustainability management in UN facilities and operations, including language on cost-effectiveness and accountability. On sustainable development strategies at all levels, delegates added text on “effective analysis and assessment of information,” and deleted a reference to “effective national monitoring and assessment capacity at the appropriate levels.” On access to information, public participation and justice, some delegates suggested the text should refer to issues more broadly than “environmental matters.”

Final Outcome:The document reaffirms the importance of broadening and strengthening the participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making and norm setting, referencing recent decisions on reform of the Bretton Woods institutions. It requests the Secretary-General to report to the UNGA through ECOSOC on progress made in mainstreaming the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the UN system; looks forward to receiving the outcome of the independent evaluation of the “Delivering As One” initiative; and calls on the UN system to take into account sustainable development practices in the management of facilities and operations.

E. Regional, National, Sub-National, Local: Developing countries proposed a paragraph on establishing an international mechanism under the UNGA to promote, implement and monitor concrete actions for bridging the technology gap. Others opposed this, citing possible overlaps with the work of existing organizations, including the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Final Outcome: The document recognizes the importance of integrated social, economic, and environmental data and information, as well as effective analysis and assessment of implementation to decision-making processes; and encourages action at the various levels to promote access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters. It calls on countries to strengthen national, sub-national and/or local institutions or relevant multi-stakeholder bodies and process, as appropriate.

V. FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION AND FOLLOW-UP: This section of the text addresses 26 topics. During the PrepCom, splinter group deliberations were facilitated by: Charles Barber (US) and Elfriede More (EU) on forests, biodiversity, mountains, poverty and food; Heidi Kvalsoren (Norway) and France Jacovella (Canada) on gender, education, health, cities, transport and mining; Chris Schweizer (Australia) on oceans; Nobuharu Imanishi (Japan) and Agnieszka Karpinska (Poland) on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and jobs; Jimena Leiva (Guatemala) on SCP, water and climate change; and Rueanna Haynes (Trinidad and Tobago) on SIDS and regions. During the Pre-Conference Informal Consultations, Minister Maria Teresa Mesquita Pessôa facilitated several meetings on oceans, Amb. Figueiredo facilitated discussions on energy, and Paulino Franco de Carvalho Neto facilitated a meeting on the other thematic areas.

A. Thematic Areas and Cross-Sectoral Issues: Debates on the introduction to the subsection focused on text regarding overcoming gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, references to the Rio Principles, as well as to goals, targets and indicators.

Final Outcome: The chapeau in the final outcome document commits countries to actions enumerated in the thematic and cross-sectoral issue sections, supported, as appropriate, by MOI, to address remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development. It also: recognizes that goals, targets and indicators, including, where appropriate, gender-sensitive indicators, are valuable in measuring and accelerating progress; and implementation of the actions can be enhanced by voluntary information, knowledge and experience sharing,

Poverty eradication:In this three-paragraph section, delegates debated text regarding expanding development opportunities, universal access to social services, a reference to the ILO recommendation on social protection floors, and whether to encourage initiatives that provide or enhance social protection for all.

Final Outcome: The three paragraphs in this section of the outcome document, inter alia:

•  recognize that progress in reducing poverty has been uneven, especially in least developed countries (LDCs) and Africa;

•  recognize that sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth in developing countries is a key requirement for eradicating poverty and hunger and achieving the MDGs;

•  emphasize that developing countries should provide an enabling environment aimed at expanding their development opportunities;

•  emphasize that the UN development agenda should accord highest priority to eradicating poverty, addressing its root causes and challenges through integrated, coordinated and coherent strategies at all levels; and

•  state that social protection systems that address and reduce inequality and social exclusion are essential to eradicating poverty and advancing the achievement of the MDGs.

Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture:During the discussions on this subsection, delegates disagreed on a reference to “positive externalities,” rejected an attempt to introduce a reference to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and disagreed on introducing stronger language of commitment. On the work of the Committee on Food Security (CFS), delegates reaffirmed its “inclusive nature.” Differences persisted on whether and how to reference the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment.

Final Outcome:This 13-paragraph outcome reaffirms the commitment to the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, as well as to enhancing food security and access to adequate, safe and nutritious food for present and future generations. It also emphasizes the need to revitalize the agricultural and rural development sectors, notably in developing countries, in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner. Among other elements, it further:

•  recognizes the need to significantly reduce post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food chain and to maintain natural ecological processes that support food production systems;

•  stresses the need to enhance sustainable livestock production systems and the crucial role of healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture for food security and nutrition;

•  resolves to take action to enhance agricultural research, extension services, training and education, as well as to improve access to information, technical knowledge and know-how;

•  encourages countries to give consideration to implementing the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security;

•  stresses the need to address the root causes of excessive food price volatility and to manage risks linked to high and excessively volatile prices in agricultural commodities; and

•  reaffirms that a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system will promote agricultural and rural development in developing countries and contribute to world food security.

Water and sanitation:During splinter group discussions, points of divergence included text on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, a target of 2030 for significantly improving water efficiency and reducing water losses, language on commitment to improving integrated water resource management, and reference to “according to national legislation.”

Final Outcome:This six-paragraph outcome, inter alia:

•  underlines the critical importance of water and sanitation within the three dimensions of sustainable development;

•  reaffirms the JPOI and Millennium Declaration commitments to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation;

•  commits to the progressive realization of access to safe and affordable drinking water and basic sanitation for all, and reiterates the commitment to support such efforts, in particular for developing countries;

•  reaffirms commitments to progressively realize the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation;

•  recognizes the key role that ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality;

•  underlines the need to adopt measures to address floods, droughts and water scarcity, and to mobilize financial resources and investment in infrastructure for water and sanitation services; and

•  stresses the need to adopt measures to significantly reduce water pollution, increase water quality, significantly improve wastewater treatment and water efficiency, and reduce water losses.

Energy:Delegates discussed whether the title for this subsection should refer to “sustainable energy” as well as: 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” (SE4All) initiative and its goals; and fossil fuel subsidies. Informal side consultations as well as a Pre-Conference Informal Consultation group discussed this text, with the latter focusing primarily on the proposed paragraph on fossil fuel subsidies, including questions about its placement. In the final decision, the paragraph on fossil fuel subsidies was moved to the SCP subsection.

Final Outcome: This five-paragraph outcome:

•  recognizes the critical role that energy plays in the development process, and commits to facilitate support for access to sustainable modern energy services by the 1.4 billion people worldwide currently without them;

•  emphasizes the need to address the challenge of access to sustainable modern energy services for all;

•  reaffirms support for the implementation of national and subnational policies and strategies;

•  commits to supporting efforts on electrification and dissemination of sustainable cooking and heating solutions;

•  recognizes the need for energy efficiency measures in urban planning, buildings and transportation, and in the production of goods and services and product design;

•  recognizes the importance of promoting incentives favoring, and removing disincentives to, energy efficiency and the diversification of the energy mix; and

•  notes the SE4All initiative and expresses determination to make sustainable energy for all a reality, while recognizing that countries set priorities according to their specific challenges, capacities and circumstances, including their energy mix.

Sustainable tourism:This subsection was agreed ad referendum during the informal informal consultations in New York.

Final Outcome: The two paragraphs of this subsection, inter alia: recognize the need to support sustainable tourism activities and relevant capacity building, and call for enhanced support in developing countries; encourage the promotion of investment in sustainable tourism, including eco-tourism and cultural tourism, and underline the importance of establishing, where necessary, appropriate guidelines and regulations in accordance with national priorities and legislation for promoting and supporting sustainable tourism.

Sustainable transport: For this subsection, delegates debated calls for establishing sustainable transport systems, international support for developing countries, and linkages with planning and urban design.

Final Outcome: The two-paragraph outcome, inter alia: recognizes the importance of efficient movement of people and goods and access to environmentally sound, safe and affordable transportation; supports the development of sustainable transport systems; recognizes the need to promote an integrated approach to policymaking at national, regional and local levels for transport services and systems to promote sustainable development; and recognizes the need to take into account the special development needs of landlocked and transit developing countries while establishing sustainable transit transport systems, and acknowledges the need for international support to developing countries in this regard.

Sustainable cities and human settlements:Issues debated in Rio concerned: urban-rural linkages, the elderly and disabled, green urban spaces, climate risks, resource-efficient infrastructure and technology, sustainable behavior and lifestyles, non-motorized transport modes, UNEP, and technical and financial assistance for developing countries. Delegates also discussed referencing the need for adequate and predictable financial contributions to the UN-HABITAT and Human Settlements Foundation, and whether to single out the UN-HABITAT Agenda, among other initiatives.

Final Outcome: The four paragraphs in this subsection, inter alia:

•  recognize the need for a holistic approach to urban development and human settlements that provides for affordable housing and infrastructure and prioritizes slum upgrading and urban regeneration;

•  commit to work towards improving the quality of human settlements, including the living and working conditions of both urban and rural dwellers in the context of poverty eradication;

•  commit to promote an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities and urban settlements; and

•  commit to promote sustainable development policies that support inclusive housing and social services.

The paragraph also stresses the need to strengthen existing cooperation mechanisms or platforms, partnership arrangements and other implementation tools to advance the coordinated implementation of the UN-HABITAT Agenda, and recognizes the continuing need for adequate and predictable financial contributions to the UN-HABITAT and Human Settlements Foundation.

Health and population:This subsection arrived in Rio with two paragraphs agreed ad referendum, one on non-communicable diseases and the other on considering population trends and projections in development strategies and policies. The other seven proposed paragraphs contained brackets, with those most contested concerning sexual and reproductive health, Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), the role of the World Health Organization (WHO), and language linking reductions in air, water and chemical pollution to positive effects on health. Several modifications were brought to paragraphs on implementing the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and on reducing maternal and child mortality and improving the health of women, adolescents and children.

Final Outcome: This subsection includes nine paragraphs on:

•  recognizing that health is a precondition for and an outcome and indicator of sustainable development and calling for the right to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;

•  the importance of universal health coverage;

•  emphasizing that HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases remain serious global concerns, and renewing and strengthening the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases;

•  the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases and the positive health effects of reducing air, water and chemical pollution;

•  TRIPS, public health and access to medicines for all;

•  collaboration and cooperation at the national and international levels to strengthen health systems and support the leadership role of the WHO;

•  considering population trends and projects in national, rural and urban development strategies and policies;

•  full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, including commitments leading to sexual and reproductive health and promotion of all human rights in this context; and

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

Promoting full and productive employment, decent work for all, and social protections: During the PrepCom splinter group deliberations in Rio, delegates could not agree on references to green jobs, economic growth, and enhancing core resources of UN funds, programmes and agencies, among others.

Final Outcome: This subsection contains 11 paragraphs. It recognizes that poverty eradication, full and productive employment and decent work for all, and social integration and protection are interrelated and mutually reinforcing, and the need for enabling environments. The outcome also, inter alia:

•  urges all governments to address the global challenge of youth employment;

•  calls on countries to enhance infrastructure investment for sustainable development and agrees to support UN funds, programmes and agencies to help assist and promote developing countries’ efforts;

•  commits to work toward safe and decent working conditions and access to social protection and education for informal unpaid workers;

•  encourages the sharing of experiences and best practices in combating high unemployment and underemployment, particularly among young people;

•  stresses the need to provide social protection to all members of society;

•  supports global dialogue on best practices for social protection programmes;

•  notes ILO Recommendation 202; and

•  calls on states to promote and protect effectively the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of the migration status, and to address international migration through international, regional or bilateral cooperation and dialogue.

Oceans and seas:Debates on this 20-paragraph subsection included: identification of a target date for restoring the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems; how to refer to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); whether to “agree to initiate, as soon as possible, the negotiation, in the framework of the UNGA, of an implementing agreement to UNCLOS that would address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction;” language on fisheries, including references to stock levels, sustainable yields, and biological characteristics; and subsidies. In reference to the latter, some delegations cautioned that this could undermine the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiating mandate on subsidies.

Final Outcome: This subsection:

•  stresses the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and coastal areas;

•  recognizes the importance of UNCLOS and urges all parties to fully implement their obligations under the Convention;

•  supports the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment;

•  recognizes the importance of conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and the ongoing work of the UNGA  ad hoc open-ended informal working group to study issues relating to BBNJ, and commits to address this issue, including by taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under UNCLOS, before the end of the 69th session of the UNGA; and

•  commits to take action to reduce marine pollution.

Additional paragraphs call for action related to:

•  the threat of alien invasive species;

•  sea level rise and coastal erosion;

•  ocean acidification;

•  ocean fertilization;

•  maintaining or restoring depleted stocks, including through development and implementation of science-based management plans;

•  implementation of the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks by its parties, and implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) international plans of action and technical guidelines;

•  the elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU);

•  recognizing the need for transparency and accountability in fisheries management by regional fisheries management organizations;

•  encouraging states to eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU and overcapacity, without prejudicing the WTO Doha and Hong Kong ministerial mandates or the need to conclude these negotiations;

•  capacity-building strategies for conservation and sustainable use, including through improved market access for fish;

•  access to fisheries and markets by subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fishers and indigenous peoples;

•  contributions of coral reefs; and

•  the importance of area-based conservation measures, including marine protected areas.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS):At the beginning of PrepCom III this subsection had a paragraph agreed ad referendum on continued and enhanced efforts to assist SIDS in implementing the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI). A splinter group agreed ad referendum to two more paragraphs, one on the special challenges of SIDS, and another on a Third International Conference on SIDS.

Final Outcome: The document reaffirms that SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities, and acknowledges that climate change and sea level rise pose threats to SIDS’ survival and viability. It calls for continued and enhanced efforts to assist SIDS in implementing the BPOA and MSI and for strengthened UN system support to SIDS to address ongoing and emerging challenges. It also calls for the Third International Conference on SIDS to be held in 2014 and requests the UNGA, at its 67th session, to decide on the modalities.

Least developed countries: The single paragraph on LDCs was agreed ad referendum during pre-Rio informal informal consultations in New York.

Final Outcome: The paragraph agrees to effectively implement the Istanbul Programme of Action and to fully integrate its priority areas into the framework for action, with a view to contributing to enabling half of the LDCs to meet graduation criteria by 2020.

Landlocked Least Developed Countries:The single paragraph on landlocked least developing countries (LLDCs), proposed by the G-77/China but reserved on by the US and EU during the informal informal consultations in New York, was resolved during the splinter group in Rio by changing a call to “encourage” the international community to accelerate action instead of “invite” a list of specific categories of actors to do so.

Final Outcome: The outcome invites member states, including development partners, organizations of the UN system and other relevant international, regional and sub-regional organizations, to speed up the implementation of the specific actions in the five priorities agreed upon in the Almaty Programme of Action and those contained in the Declaration on the midterm review in a better-coordinated manner, with a particular emphasis on transport, communications and energy.

Africa: During splinter group negotiations on this, among other issues, delegates considered using agreed text from various sources, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development resolutions.

Final Outcome:The document contains two paragraphs. The first acknowledges that some progress has been made towards the fulfillment of international commitments related to Africa’s development needs, but that significant challenges remain in achieving sustainable development in the region. The second, inter alia: calls on the international community to enhance support and fulfill commitments to advance actions in areas critical to Africa’s sustainable development; and recognizes the need for African countries to make continued efforts to create enabling environments for inclusive growth in support of sustainable development and for the international community to make continued efforts to increase the flow of new and additional resources for financing for development from all sources.

Regional Efforts: During the informal informal consultations in New York, the G-77/China proposed, and the EU and US bracketed, separate paragraphs on sustainable development initiatives in the Arab region, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific region. Discussions in the splinter group revealed continued disagreement on this subsection.

Final Outcome: The single paragraph in the outcome document encourages coordinated regional actions to promote sustainable development, recognizes and welcomes steps taken in this regard in the Arab, Latin America and Caribbean and Asia-Pacific regions, and calls for action at all levels for their further development and implementation.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR):On this four-paragraph subsection, delegates discussed references to, inter alia: ensuring human security; developing a post-2015 framework on DRR; committing to adequate, timely and predictable resources for DRR in order to enhance resilience of cities and communities to disasters; providing technology transfer; strengthening in a timely manner risk assessment and DRR instruments; and integrating climate change adaptation considerations into investment, decision making and planning of humanitarian and development actions.

Final Outcome: This subsection, inter alia:

•  reaffirms the commitment to the Hyogo Framework and calls for its accelerated implementation;

•  calls for DRR and building disaster resilience to be integrated into policies, plans, programmes and budgets at all levels;

•  calls for governments at all levels and relevant sub-regional, regional and international organizations to commit to adequate, timely and predictable resources for DRR;

•  commits to undertake and strengthen in a timely manner risk assessment and DRR instruments;

•  calls for more coordinated and comprehensive strategies that integrate DRR and climate change adaptation considerations into public and private investment, decision making and planning of humanitarian and development actions; and

•  calls for integrating a gender perspective into the design and implementation of all phases of disaster risk management.

Climate change:The text used as a basis for the negotiations in Rio had five heavily bracketed 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. One particular area of contention was reference to CBDR, with delegations such as the US, Canada, Japan and Australia requesting its deletion and the G-77/China supporting its retention. Among the other issues of divergence were references to specific UNFCCC COPs, disproportionate impact on women, prompt operationalization of the Green Climate Fund, and immediate action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

Final Outcome: The subsection on climate change includes three paragraphs on:

•  the threat of climate change, vulnerability of developing countries to climate change, and that adaption to climate change represents an immediate and urgent global priority;

•  an effective and appropriate international response with a view to accelerate the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions;

•  recalling that the UNFCCC provides that parties should protect the climate system on the basis of equity and in accordance with CBDR;

•  mobilizing funding and welcoming the launch of the Green Climate Fund; and

•  urging parties to implement commitments under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and to build upon progress achieved including at COP 17 in Durban.

Forests: Among other issues in this subsection, delegates replaced text calling for efforts to “tackle the drivers of deforestation,” with text from the February 2011 Ministerial Declaration from the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Additional debates focused on: REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries), including whether it should be addressed under climate change; illegal logging, whether to mention commitments to achieve sustainable forest governance frameworks and achieve sustainable forest management by 2020, and to halt global forest cover loss by 2030; difficulties over references to robust and transparent forest governance and law enforcement; improved land use planning and allocation; and market instruments such as voluntary certification.

Final Outcome: The document contains four paragraphs, including recognition of the role of UNFF and inviting the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) and other stakeholders to continue supporting it. It reaffirms the wide range of products and services that forests provide, and supports all efforts to slow, halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation, including, inter alia, promoting trade in legally-harvested forest products. The text references the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries, and calls for increased efforts to strengthen forest governance frameworks and MOI. It commits to improve the livelihoods of people and communities by creating the conditions needed for them to sustainably manage forests, including through strengthening cooperation arrangements in the areas of finance, trade, transfer of environmentally sound technologies, capacity building and governance, as well as by promoting secure land tenure. It calls for urgent implementation of the Non-legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests and the Ministerial Declaration of the high-level segment of the ninth session of UNFF, and commits to working through the governing bodies of member organizations of the CPF to integrate the sustainable management of all types of forests into their strategies and programmes.

Biodiversity: Issues debated in this subsection included: the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the severity of biodiversity loss; commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) three objectives and importance of implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020; references to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing (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 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); and the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). During the splinter group negotiations, several delegations proposed adding reference to ecosystem services and removing a paragraph on the fair and equitable sharing of benefits of genetic resources. Differences remained on whether CITES “ensures” or “should contribute to” tangible benefits for local people, and some expressed concern that adopting CITES terms such as “non-detrimental” would not make sense to those unfamiliar with the CITES process.

Final Outcome:The final document recognizes traditional knowledge; contribution of indigenous peoples and local communities; commitment to CBD objectives and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It notes the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol and invites parties to the CBD to ratify or accede to the Protocol. It encourages investments, through appropriate incentives and policies for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and restoration of degraded ecosystems; and stakeholder involvement in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as access to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from utilization of genetic resources, with the vision of living in harmony with nature.

The text recognizes CITES’ role in several areas, including that it “should contribute” to tangible benefits for local people; and ensures that no species entering into international trade is threatened with extinction, also stressing the importance that listing of such species be based on “agreed criteria.” It takes note of the establishment of IPBES, and invites an early commencement of its work so as to provide policy-relevant information for decision makers.

Desertification, land degradation and drought:During the splinter group discussions, delegates agreed in principle on a paragraph expressing deep concern over cyclical drought and famine in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, but disagreed over referencing action by the international community. Delegations disagreed over references to: soil; a “land degradation neutral world” or “zero net rate of land degradation;” whether to include references to specific initiatives; and whether to reference an ongoing process to discuss options for the provision of scientific advice to the parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Final Outcome: The five paragraphs of this outcome, inter alia:

•  stress that desertification, land degradation, and drought are challenges of a global dimension and continue to pose serious challenges to the sustainable development of all countries, in particular developing countries, LDCs, LLDCs and Africa;

•  call for urgent action through short-, medium- and long-term measures at all levels to address cyclical drought and famine in Africa;

•  recognize the need for urgent action to reverse land degradation and indicate states will strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world;

•  encourage and recognize the importance of partnerships and initiatives;

•  take note of the decision of the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD to establish an Ad Hoc Working Group to discuss specific options for the provision of scientific advice to its parties; and

•  invite states and relevant organizations to cooperate in the sharing of related information, forecasting and early warning systems.

Mountains:The debates on this section included a reference to a proposal strengthening “regional” arrangements, and a call for support for developing countries.

Final Outcome: The three paragraphs in this section: recognize the benefits of mountain regions for sustainable development, the crucial role of mountain ecosystems in providing water resources and the fragility of mountain ecosystems; recognize mountains as home to often marginalized communities, and invite strengthening of existing arrangements, agreements and centers of excellence for sustainable mountain development; and call for greater efforts towards the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, encouraging states to adopt a long-term vision and holistic approaches.

Chemicals and waste: During splinter group deliberations, a paragraph was agreed ad referendum concerning increased coordination and cooperation among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and encouraging continued coordination and cooperation among them and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Delegates also debated, inter alia: references to long-term funding for SAICM; reducing landfilling significantly by 2030; the decision by the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Basel Convention regarding the Ban Amendment; cooperation on transboundary air pollution; phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); whether to call for a successful conclusion in 2013 of the negotiations for a global legally binding instrument on mercury; and a decision following up the UNEP Consultative Process on Financing Options for Chemicals and Waste.

Final Outcome: This 11-paragraph subsection:

•  calls for the effective implementation and strengthening of SAICM;

•  states that additional efforts are needed to enhance work towards strengthening the capacity for sound chemical and waste management, including through partnerships, technical assistance and improved governance structures;

•  commits to increase energy recovery from waste;

•  states that solid wastes that pose particular challenges, such as e-waste and plastics, should be addressed;

•  calls for the development and enforcement of comprehensive national and local waste management policies, strategies, laws and regulations;

•  urges countries and other stakeholders to take all possible measures to prevent the unsound management of hazardous wastes and their illegal dumping, and welcomes relevant decisions taken at Basel COP10;

•  encourages the development of environmentally sound and safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in products and processes;

•  encourages, inter alia, life-cycle assessment, public information, extended producer responsibility, research and development, sustainable design and knowledge sharing, as appropriate;

•  welcomes the ongoing negotiations for a globally legally binding instrument on mercury;

•  supports a gradual phase-down in HFC consumption and production; and

•  anticipates the forthcoming proposals by the UNEP Executive Director on financing options to be considered by the International Conference on Chemicals Management and the 27th session of the UNEP Governing Council.

Sustainable Consumption and Production: During splinter group deliberations, delegates discussed what entity could or should adopt the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP), with one delegation questioning whether the Conference could instruct another institution to do something and others calling for flexibility, and supporting agreement on the paragraph on the adoption of the 10YFP.

Due to questions about the placement of a paragraph on fossil fuel subsidies, which were raised in the negotiating group facilitated by Amb. Figueiredo on energy issues, the text was moved into this subsection in the final outcome document. In those discussions, one delegation, noting discussion on this topic at the concurrent G20 Summit in Mexico, proposed alternative text stating that countries reaffirm the commitments they have made to phase-out harmful and inefficient subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and undermine sustainable development, and invite others to do the same, taking fully into account the specific conditions and different levels of development of individual countries, and protecting the poor.

Final Outcome: The three paragraphs in the final outcome document recall the 10YFP’s roots in the JPOI and adopt the 10YFP, as contained in document A/CONF.216/5, and invite the UNGA at its 67th session to designate a member state body to take any necessary steps to fully operationalize the Framework. The subsidies paragraph reaffirms commitments by countries to phase out harmful and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and undermine sustainable development, and invites others to consider rationalizing inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by removing market distortions, including restructuring taxation and phasing out harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries.

Mining:Points of divergence on this theme included options on “managed effectively and properly” or “properly managed and effectively regulated” on text on mining as an opportunity to meet internationally agreed development goals, calling on countries to “strengthen” versus recognizing the importance of “strong and effective” legal and regulatory frameworks for the mining sector, and language on “improvement of accountability and transparency.”   

Final Outcome: The two paragraphs in this subsection: acknowledge that minerals and metals make a major contribution to the world economy and modern societies, and, inter alia, when managed effectively and properly can contribute to internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs; and recognize the importance of strong and effective legal and regulatory frameworks, policies and practices for the mining sector, and call on governments and business to promote the continuous improvement of accountability and transparency.

Education:Negotiation on the five paragraphs in this subsection was largely concluded during the informal informal negotiations in New York. A paragraph on non-formal education was added, and a reference urging educational institutions to set an example of sustainability on their campuses and communities was changed to “consider adopting good practices in sustainability management.”

Final Outcome: The subsection reaffirms commitments to the right to education, and to strengthening international cooperation towards universal access to primary education, particularly for developing countries. Further paragraphs resolve to:

•  improve the capacity of education systems for sustainable development, including the development of curricula around sustainability and the teaching of sustainable development as an integrated component across disciplines;

•  encourage member states to promote sustainable development awareness among youth, including by promoting programmes for non-formal education;

•  emphasize the importance of international cooperation for greater investment in quality of education;

•  encourage good practices in sustainability management on campuses and communities; and

•  underscore the importance of research and innovation in education programmes including entrepreneurship and business skills training, professional, technical, vocational training and lifelong learning, geared to bridging skills gaps for advancing national sustainable development objectives.

The text refers to the MDGs as well as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

Gender equality and women’s empowerment:The text used as a basis for the negotiations in Rio included four out of nine paragraphs agreed ad referendum. Significant difference remained on a paragraph referencing “reproductive rights,” with the G-77/China stating it had not been able to agree on a joint position on this. A number of countries supported retention of this reference, while others wanted it deleted. The final text refers to “sexual and reproductive health.” Switzerland requested retaining the link to gender and climate change, which was not included in the text. One paragraph on mainstreaming gender into decision-making was agreed ad referendum

Final Outcome:The subsection includes nine paragraphs on:

•  reaffirming the vital role of women and the need for their full and equal participation and leadership in all areas of sustainable development and to accelerate the implementation of various commitments;

•  recognizing that progress on gender equality has not been fully realized and prioritizing measures to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women;

•  unlocking the potential of women as drivers of sustainable development and creating an enabling environment for improving the situation of women and girls;

•  actively promoting the collection, analysis and use of gender-sensitive indicators and sex-disaggregated data;

•  committing to equal rights and opportunities for women in political and economic decision-making and resource allocation and removing barriers that prevent women from being full participants in the economy;

•  promoting equal access of women and girls to education, basic services, economic opportunities and health-care services, including addressing women’s sexual and reproductive health;

•  supporting the work of the UN system, including UN-Women, in promoting and achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women; and

•  integrating gender equality in the empowerment of women in the decision making in programme cycles of, inter alia, international organizations, UN agencies, international finance institutions and the private sector.

B. Sustainable Development Goals: Selwin Hart (Barbados) facilitated this group before the closure of PrepCom III. The discussions focused primarily on a process for the development of the SDGs. The G-77/China preferred to establish a process under the UNGA to negotiate the SDGs, while the EU, Switzerland, Norway, and others preferred establishing a non-negotiated process driven by the UN Secretary-General. Key points of debate included referencing CBDR in a paragraph related to SDGs that fully respect the Rio Principles, and whether key indicative themes to develop the SDGs should be provided in the text.

During the splinter group deliberations, delegates discussed, inter alia: whether to retain language on targets and indicators; whether to include reference to differentiation by national circumstances; the linkages between reporting at the regional and global levels; whether the process of SDG development should be intergovernmental; the role of the UNGA in endorsing the outcomes of this process; a structure that provides the necessary technical backstopping; and the need for strong and active stakeholder involvement. Based on an alternative text developed by the facilitator, delegates continued to debate the inclusion of a reference to CBDR, among other issues.

During the Pre-Conference Consultations, which were facilitated by Amb. Raphael Azeredo (Brazil), delegates continued to discuss: CBDR; whether to include key indicative themes on which the SDGs should focus; the process to develop the SDGs; and the definition of a steering committee constituted no later than the opening of the 67th session of the UNGA and comprising 30 experts nominated by member states.

The G-77/China qualified as a “red wall” proposed negotiation of the goals by a committee. The EU asked for a science-based process with inputs from all sectors. The G-77/China introduced a proposal that: replaced “experts” with “relevant representatives” nominated by their government; suggested 47 members (rather than 30) in the committee; called for every meeting of the committee to circulate a report for information; called for the report to be reviewed by UNGA; and proposed to open the meetings to member states or other stakeholders. Some delegates were concerned that this proposal would create an overloaded bureaucracy. The EU preferred finding alternatives to an intergovernmental process and identification of indicative themes for the SDGs. The facilitator urged delegations to engage in conversation and develop a solution.

Final Outcome: The outcome includes seven paragraphs on:

•  remaining firmly committed to the full and timely achievement of the MDGs;

•  recognizing the importance and utility of a set of SDGs that are based on Agenda 21 and the JPOI, which, inter alia, fully respect all Rio Principles, and take into account different national circumstances, capacities and priorities;

•  underscoring what the SDGs should be, including addressing and being focused on priority areas for the achievement of sustainable development, being guided by the outcome document;

•  establishing an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on SDGs, open to all stakeholders with a view to developing global SDGs to be agreed by the UNGA, and constituting an open working group comprising 30 representatives, nominated by member states no later than the opening of the 67th session of the UNGA. This working group would decide on its method of work, including developing modalities, to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the UN system in its work and would submit a report to the 68th session of the UNGA containing a proposal for SDGs for consideration and appropriate action;

•  stating the need to: ensure coordination and coherence with the processes considering the post-2015 development agenda; provide initial input to the work of the working group by the UN Secretary-General in consultations with national governments and through an inter-agency technical support team and expert panels as needed; and report regularly on the progress of work to the UNGA;

•  recognizing the need to assess progress towards the achievement of the goals, accompanied by targets and indicators while taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development; and

•  requesting the relevant bodies of the UN system to support the regional economic commissions to collect and compile national inputs and on further committing to mobilize financial resources and capacity building, particularly for developing countries to achieve this endeavor.

VI. MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION: This section was discussed during a splinter group during PrepCom III, facilitated by Selwin Hart (Barbados), and during the Pre-Conference Consultations, facilitated by Amb. André Corrêa do Lago (Brazil), with additional discussions taking place in informal groups. Negotiations focused on subsections on finance, technology, capacity building, trade and registry of commitments. A section on broader measures of progress was moved to Section II-B of the outcome document.

On the chapeau, the PrepCom facilitator suggested its deletion, whereas several delegates, including the US, Norway and the EU, wanted to retain some language, such as reference to national priorities. 

Final Outcome: One paragraph addresses the means of implementation identified in a variety of fora such as Agenda 21 and the JPOI, and the need for significant mobilization of resources to promote sustainable development.

A. Finance: The document used as a basis for negotiations in Rio had no paragraphs agreed ad referendum. During the PrepCom, the facilitator introduced streamlined text after informal consultations with several delegates, noting that it needed a more balanced focus on ODA, South-South cooperation, and the effective use of finance.

The G-77/China stressed the need to focus debate on establishing a resource mobilization framework. Some delegates, including Switzerland and New Zealand, had sympathy for such a framework, noting that funds already exist for some thematic areas, while others, such as the US and Canada, wanted to remove reference to this.

The facilitator asked delegates to reflect and identify a resource mobilization framework without numerical targets. The G-77/China rejected the facilitator’s text on a resource mobilization framework and introduced a new proposal, which detailed the need for an intergovernmental process under UNGA to define a sustainable development financing framework/mechanism. Impressions from delegates included concern on launching a process without knowing its intent in advance and coherence and coordination with other ongoing UN processes.

During the Pre-Conference Consultations, several delegates, including the US, Norway, Australia and the EU, expressed concern about highlighting ODA over other sources of finance and establishing an intergovernmental process for the mobilization of resources. The G-77/China reiterated the need for a sustainable development financing “mechanism/framework” instead of a “strategy,” and for the removal of reference to corruption.

Final Outcome:The outcome includes 16 paragraphs on:

•  enhancing financial support from all sources for sustainable development for all countries;

•  mobilization of resources from a variety of sources and the effective use of financing to give strong support to developing countries;

•  an intergovernmental process under the auspices of the UNGA to prepare a report proposing options on a sustainable development financing strategy;

•  an intergovernmental committee, comprising 30 experts nominated by regional groups, to implement this process, concluding its work in 2014;

•  UNGA consideration of the report of the intergovernmental committee;

•  the fulfillment of all commitments related to ODA;

•  increased efforts to improve the quality of ODA and to increase its development impact;

•  the changing aid architecture;

•  the important achievements of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and support for further simplification of procedures and assistance to LDCs, SIDS and Africa in accessing GEF resources;

•  fighting corruption and illicit financial flows;

•  innovative financing mechanisms; and

•  a dynamic, inclusive, well-functioning, socially and environmentally responsible private sector.

B. Technology: The document used as a basis for negotiations in Rio had no paragraphs agreed ad referendum. Delegates did not accept the facilitator’s proposed title of “Technology, Development and Transfer,” with the facilitator recognizing that the broadest title is “Technology.” Delegates debated and could not come to consensus on: the need for enabling environments for “dissemination” versus “transfer of” environmentally sound technologies; the role of patent protection and intellectual property rights; and options to facilitate clean technology dissemination to developing countries. The US, with Canada, continued to stress the need for technology transfer to be voluntary and on mutually agreed terms and conditions. Text on recognizing the need to facilitate informed policy decision-making on sustainable development issues was agreed ad referendum.

Final Outcome:The subsection includes eight paragraphs on:

•  the importance of technology transfer to developing countries and provisions on technology transfer, among others, as agreed in the JPOI;

•  access by all countries to environmentally sound technologies, new knowledge, know-how and expertise;

•  enabling environments for development, adaptation, dissemination and transfer of environmentally sound technology;

•  strengthened national, scientific and technological capacities for sustainable development;

•  identifying options for a technology transfer facilitation mechanism;

•  the importance of space-technology-based data, in situ monitoring and reliable geospatial information for sustainable development policymaking;

•  the importance of strengthening international, regional and national capacities in research and technology assessment; and

•  the need to facilitate informed policy decision-making on sustainable development

C. Capacity building: While most of the text was agreed ad referendum at the beginning of PrepCom III, delegates debated language on supporting developing countries in capacity building “and development” for developing resource-efficient and inclusive economies, and agreed language on North-South cooperation. Reference to urging all countries to increase capacity-building support to developing countries was deleted after requests from the G-77/China and the US, and alternative text stressing the voluntary nature of natural resource assessments was introduced.

Final Outcome:The outcome includes four paragraphs on:

•  strengthening technical and scientific cooperation, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation;

•  implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building;

•  enhancing national capabilities and the quality of research for policy- and decision-making processes; and

•  developing resource-efficient and inclusive economies through sharing sustainable practices, integrating DRR and resilience into development plans, supporting North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, and promoting public-private partnerships.

D. Trade: The text used as a basis for negotiations in Rio had no paragraphs agreed ad referendum. After consensus could not be achieved, the PrepCom facilitator streamlined text reaffirming: that international trade is an engine for inclusive and sustained growth and development; increasing developing versus developed country market access and the need to address protectionist tendencies; and trade capacity building and facilitation. Delegates were polarized on including reference to the need to continue WTO negotiations on liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services and on committing to take action on subsidies that are market distorting and inhibit sustainable development, with the G-77/China recommending that these “red line” issues be deleted from the text. Given the polarized debate on trade, the facilitator proposed deleting the entire section. Two “straight forward” paragraphs were retained to underscore the importance of rules-based, open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system and to increase efforts on the Doha Development Agenda.

Final Outcome:The outcome includes two paragraphs on: how trade liberalization can stimulate economic growth and development worldwide; and strengthening the multilateral trading system.

E. Registry of commitments: The G-77/China originally opposed the registry of commitments but eventually agreed to its retention, but requested moving it to Section II.C, which was opposed by the US.

Final Outcome:The outcome includes one paragraph inviting voluntary commitments by all stakeholders to implement concrete actions to promote sustainable development and poverty eradication.


Amb. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Executive Secretary, Brazil National Commission for Rio+20, opened the closing plenary session on Friday evening, 22 June, at 6:47 pm. The rapporteurs of the four roundtables presented their reports on “Looking at the way forward in implementing the expected outcomes of the Conference.” On the report of the Credentials Committee (A/CONF.216/6), since the Committee’s meeting, formal credentials were received for Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Nepal, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates and Zambia.

Amb. Figueiredo then invited delegates to consider the outcome document of the conference (A/CONF.216/L.1), which was adopted without objection at 7:15 pm. He noted that a minor clarification will be made to change “women’s empowerment” to the agreed expression of “empowerment of women” throughout the text.

Algeria, for the G-77/China, paid tribute to the leadership of Brazil. He said that the greatest achievement of the Conference is “undoubtedly, the rehabilitation of multilateral diplomacy” as the best guarantee of the future we wish. He then introduced a resolution thanking the people and Government of Brazil (A/CONF.216/L.2).

Bolivia expressed reservations regarding all references to the green economy and any interpretation that may be construed as commodification of the functions and cycles of nature. He also reserved on the rationalization of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies in paragraph 225, upheld food sovereignty as the right of peoples to determine their own policies for distribution of food, and interpreted the strengthening of capacities in science and technology as including indigenous knowledge.

Denmark, on behalf of the EU, welcomed the outcome document’s acknowledgement of a green economy in achieving poverty eradication, and declared that the EU will remain fully engaged in defining and operationalizing SDGs. He said the EU had hoped for a more ambitious outcome, including timelines and targets, and pledged to increase the participation of civil society in decision-making processes, noting the shared challenge to implement the document.

Ecuador expressed reservations on paragraph 225 regarding rationalization of fossil fuel subsidies, and reiterated a concept of development as “living well.” He highlighted the concept of the rights of nature in Ecuador’s constitution, and called for a new social contract in this regard, including a change in systems and values. Venezuela notified delegates that she had provided her reservations on the outcome document to the Secretariat in writing.

Iceland, speaking also for Norway, said they joined the consensus despite the lack of reference to women’s reproductive rights and noted that these rights are included in other agreed documents, such as the Cairo Programme of Action. Peru said, inter alia, that the timing of the Conference was ideal considering the multiple crises and welcomed the strengthening of the environmental pillar in the outcome document.

Canada said the outcome document is a balanced, forward-looking document and his country sees the reaffirmation of a human right to water and sanitation as aspirational, and indicated a number of qualifications for Canada’s interpretation of this right. The US said the outcome document marks a real advance for sustainable development, regretted that the outcome does not reference women’s reproductive rights, and said it would give the Secretariat written comments on its reservations.

Kenya welcomed a balanced outcome and called for translating this outcome into action. Switzerland expressed support for the adoption of the outcome document, noting that “we made progress but we missed the historical opportunity.” He expressed hope that debates will catalyze actions that go beyond the document.

The Holy See stressed that the human person should be at the center of concerns in sustainable development, and reaffirmed the right to life, water, food, health, education and work. For the outcome document subsections on “Health and Population” and “Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women,” he said the Holy See reaffirmed the reservations it had noted in the Cairo Declaration and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The Republic of Congo called for setting up a world environmental organization that reflects the functions of UNEP, and expressed hope that after Rio discussions will continue toward that end. Chile praised the outcome document and reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable development. Nicaragua said that the main issues of the 1992 Earth Summit remain 20 years on, and the international community should avoid trying to change the subject or diluting past commitments.

Rapporteur Tania Valerie Raguž (Croatia) outlined the report of the Conference (A/CONF.216/L.3), and the Conference authorized her to complete the report, reflecting the events of the final day.

UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang said he did not doubt that the outcome document would provide an enduring legacy, and said the next step would be to use it as the basis for action. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President, 66th session of the UNGA, said the 67th UNGA session would dedicate its best efforts to make the right decisions to implement the outcome.

 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the adoption of the outcome document, and highlighted the accomplishments of the Conference, such as agreeing to establish SDGs, strengthening the institutional infrastructure, reaffirming the right to water and food, and agreeing on the 10YFP on SCP. He thanked the Brazilian Government and President Dilma Rousseff for her personal leadership and dedication to Rio+20, and said that “the speeches are over, now the work begins.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff thanked the Heads of State and Government who helped build consensus and collective commitment and said “we can now celebrate the future we want.” She highlighted outcomes of the Conference, such as the importance of the SDGs and the high-level political forum, and stressed that UNEP will be further strengthened to assist poorer countries to implement policies. She announced that Brazil will contribute US$6 million to UNEP’s fund targeting developing countries, and will direct US$10 million towards climate change challenges in Africa, LDCs and SIDS. She also announced the creation of the Center on Sustainable Development (Rio+Center), which will be based in Rio. President Rousseff encouraged each country to make commitments that should “make progress way beyond the scope of the document,” and underscored that “Rio is a starting point, not a ceiling.” She noted that Rio+20 was a landmark event for business engagement and involvement with debates on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and the platform to build voluntary commitments to action. She said that Rio+20 was the most participatory conference in history and stressed that this event is a “global expression of democracy.” In closing, she noted that people said multilateralism was dying out, but Rio+20 demonstrated multilateralism is a legitimate pathway to build solutions for global problems. President Rousseff declared Rio+20 closed at 8:41 pm.


“Don’t hesitate to go too far, the truth lies beyond it.” (Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize for Literature)

One of the harshest critics of the political outcome from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) was the legacy of the “Spirit of Rio” itself. That spirit walked the corridors of RioCentro in the form of The Elders of the process and members of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability who—like prophets of old standing at the threshold between the old world and the new—issued profound calls for a “great transformation” and a “new narrative” for the age of the Anthropocene. The Secretary-General’s High Level Panel declared: “In this epoch, there is an unacceptable risk that human pressures on the planet, should they continue on a business as usual trajectory, will trigger abrupt and irreversible changes with catastrophic outcomes for human societies and life as we know it.” Together with the Major Groups and the multitudes who gathered to create a festival of initiatives in Rio, their elevated appeal to a sense of urgency, moral purpose and a science-led debate served only to underline the vast distance that has opened up between the practices of sustainable development on the ground and the ability of multilateral negotiations to set the pace.

So how will the outcome of the UNCSD be assessed when the dust settles? There has been no shortage of instant critiques of the negotiated text, titled “The Future We Want.” But just as early downbeat assessments of the 1992 Earth Summit gave way to a recognition that the world’s leaders had, in fact, caught the zeitgeist and shifted the language of development for good, will the understated recommendations in the Rio+20 document provide sufficient clarity and direction for an effective, science-led agenda for sustainable development?  Of particular importance will be the period between now and 2013, when, inter alia, the final review will take place of the Millennium Development Goals and a transition must be lined up for the launch of universal Sustainable Development Goals. It is in this light that this analysis examines the following questions: what were the key outcomes from Rio+20; why did Brazil force an early consensus in Rio and what factors influenced their approach to the Conference Presidency; and what are the prospects for a science-led era of leadership and governance in the age of the Anthropocene?


For an appreciation of the constraints that framed the treatment of the major themes of the UNCSD, it is worth recalling the wider geopolitical and economic environments that shaped this event. This Summit took place as the US presidential electoral cycle entered its final months and in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in the Euro zone. The negotiations also had to compete with other political developments, forcing some prominent world leaders to stay away.

These constraints in the wider political environment led to a series of outcomes in the negotiated text that, in effect, “kicked the can down the road” when it came to detailed decision-making. For example, in the Means of Implementation negotiations, the US was one of the delegations that put down an early marker, indicating that there would be no new money on the table.

A long-drawn out series of preparatory negotiations served only to further undermine confidence in the multilateral system’s ability to deal with sustainable development. Less than half the draft text had been agreed by the time delegations arrived in their rooms in Rio de Janeiro and media speculation about the prospects for the Conference had hit the floor. 

Under these circumstances, the Brazilian hosts opted to embark on a carefully calibrated iteration of delegations’ positions, based on an intensive listening exercise. They insisted that an effective approach to “red lines” was to identify only those issues that amounted to “violations of representation,” in other words, those issues that capitals could not accept in the text. Delegations were invited to acknowledge that their aspirations— regardless of how strongly they felt—could not effectively be regarded as red line issues, given the collective nature of negotiations and the inevitability of having to accept wins and losses, or a fair distribution of discomfort. This approach meant that Brazil’s compilation texts were designed for an optimal rather than an ideal set of outcomes.

Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD): There are two principal outcomes under the heading of IFSD: a decision to establish a universal intergovernmental high-level political forum to eventually replace the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD); and the strengthening of UNEP.

From the outset, the mandate and functioning of the CSD have been the subject of contention as the UN has come to learn some harsh lessons over the past twenty years as the organization has attempted to reflect the conceptual requirement of integrating the three pillars of sustainable development in its institutional design. The bureaucratic tendency to respond to such demands through a proliferation of mandates and incremental institutional reform rarely delivers the goods and, indeed, may set the very objective back by setting up and exacerbating existing intra-institutional competition for resources. This explains the repeated references over the past twenty years of intergovernmental decisions to system coherence and the need to address over-lapping mandates. Even as the Rio+20 negotiations on issues such as UNEP were on-going, some recommendations sparked a flurry of faxes and memos across parts of the UN system with deep interests in the patchwork of mandates related to sustainable development.

Negotiations on the high-level political forum focused on functions rather than a well-defined outcome. Its chief function will be to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development. The final format will be determined by an “intergovernmental, transparent and inclusive negotiation process” under the UNGA, with a view to convening the first session at the beginning of the 68th session. The prospects for the successful implementation of this decision will rely on the UN’s leadership capacity to turn the language of the negotiated text on an “action oriented agenda” and the avoidance of “overlap” into reality. Some are looking, in particular, to the UN Secretary-General to champion a break from established patterns in the negotiation of sustainable development that have too often resulted in outputs that have been emasculated in the intergovernmental process, and end up gathering dust on book shelves.

One example of an issue where further discussion is likely to be aired at the 67th session of the General Assembly is the persistent question of “strengthening and upgrading” UNEP. The outcome document agreed on universal membership of the Governing Council and improved funding. However, the European Union and a number of African countries continue to hold on to their aspiration to see UNEP transformed into a United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO)—with the status of a specialized agency—in the belief that this would empower the standing of the environment pillar alongside the social and economic dimensions. Right up to the closing plenary on Friday, there were suggestions that one or two delegations might attempt to re-open the negotiated text in an attempt to reintroduce their demand for a UNEO, in defiance of a US warning that they would re-open some of the other most difficult elements in the text should the UNEO issue come back onto the table. The US does not share the European enthusiasm for a revised UNEP mandate, as they tend to see UNEP’s existing policy role as rather generous as it stands. So the Europeans and other advocates of a transformed UNEP have a job on their hands to convince others of the merits of a transformed UNEP.

Means of Implementation (MOI): As the PrepCom began, key arguments and concerns on the traditional battleground of finance and technology transfer were well rehearsed and entrenched. MOI debates around finance go to the heart of the global deal that, supposedly, underwrote the decisions of the first Rio Conference. At one point, in what turned out to be a short-lived gesture, the G-77/China walked out of a negotiating session on the green economy to underline their concerns about a lack of movement on MOI. Proposals for financial contributions—running into hundreds of billions of dollars up to and beyond 2018—were taken off the table after the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and others insisted that Rio+20 was not a “pledging conference.” In a trend that was evident in pledges announced outside the negotiations, the text also recognizes additional resources for implementation provided on a South-South basis.

The G-77/China called on developed countries to commit to providing new and additional resources, new flexibilities in the intellectual property rights regime, and the establishment of an international mechanism to facilitate technology transfer under UNGA. Delegations fell back on JPOI language after failure to move forward on technology transfer issues such as intellectual property rights and the TRIPS agreement. The final text includes an agreement to start an intergovernmental process under the UNGA to propose options on an effective sustainable development financing strategy, and requests relevant UN agencies to identify options for a facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies. On trade, the “red line” issues of liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services and on committing to take actions on market distorting subsidies were not identified in separate paragraphs but were noted as “important issues” that need to be addressed. Most of the language on trade was deleted in a “nuclear option” proposed by the PrepCom facilitator, which cleared out contentious language and relocated a paragraph on subsidies to the subsection on sustainable consumption and production. The only two paragraphs retained were “straight forward” to underscore the importance of a rules-based, open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system and to redouble efforts on the Doha Development Agenda.

Green Economy: Flagged as one of the key themes of the UNCSD, and championed by UNEP, the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication met with fierce resistance from the G-77/China. Bolivia summed up the opposition, asserting that no single development model—whatever its color—should be imposed, and that the rights of developing states to pursue their own development paths must be upheld. Observers were quick to note, however, that Heads of State and ministers from a number of G-77/China countries addressing the plenary were clearly not “on message” as they made repeated references to the “green economy.”

The position of the G-77/China led to the creation of a very defensive and highly qualified text in this section of the document, with the EU and others enjoying only a partial success in putting forward the case for the green economy. Nevertheless, UNEP concluded after the Conference that the agenda is still largely on track.

A far-reaching and related achievement is recognition of the need for broader measures of progress to complement GDP in order to better inform policy decisions. This serves as a slight corrective for the repeated references to economic growth throughout the negotiated text, where new indicators would begin to measure the environmental and social costs of material well-being and shore up emerging ideas about living well and alternative models of prosperity. In related developments, the text also adopts the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production, which was first called for in the JPOI, and corporate sustainability reporting.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Agreement on a process to develop universal SDGs was one of the most important political decisions of the Conference, given its centrality in helping to define the post-2015 development agenda. Based on a Brazilian compromise text, the document attempts to placate both the EU’s concerns that the process is science-led, while protecting the G-77/China’s concerns about the rights of government experts to participate in the elaboration of the SDGs. The EU lost out in its demand that the Conference decision go beyond process issues, given G-77/China’s resistance to calling for a more detailed consideration of the themes and timelines for the SDGs.

On the prospects for the SDGs, those close to the process see a narrow window of time in which to ensure the smooth passage of short, meaningful and inspiring goals that can capture the public imagination. Some indicated that the hope is that a smooth “passing of the baton” can be lined up by a Special Session of the General Assembly in September 2013, with a transition from the final review of the MDGs to adoption of SDGs. However, it will not be easy to craft language that is both universal and capable of transcending the extreme sensitivities of countries and regions at very different points on the development spectrum: ranging all the way from the Bolivarian states asserting a radically plural post-colonial discourse of multiple development models through to what is regarded as a monocultural alternative that originates in the capitals of leading developed countries, who stand accused of making the world safe for Hollywood and the unsustainable consumption of celebrity lifestyles.

At the heart of the dispute over the SDGs is an issue that became much more explicit during the Rio+20 negotiations: the quality of debate and the extent to which the output is informed by scientific findings. The SDG process will be one to watch to gauge the success of advocates, including the Rio Elders and the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, who have concluded that an enhanced science-policy interface is required as part of the solution to improving the quality of multilateral negotiations and their outcomes.

Oceans: Discussions on a key oceans paragraph—marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction—were particularly representative of conflict over Rio+20’s role, given that most thematic issues are being discussed in other international fora. Just one month before Rio+20, many of the same delegates in the consultation group had met in New York for the fifth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ), and had discussed the same questions. Yet, delegates reported that it had been beneficial to have the conversations in Rio. The outcome, however, was not the strong message that many were looking for, setting a two-year timeline for taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under UNCLOS on BBNJ. Despite this disappointment, a number of NGOs welcomed the other paragraphs on fisheries and food security as very positive.

Voluntary Commitments: Rio+20 was much more than its negotiated outcome. The Conference organizers, and indeed, the outcome document itself, acknowledge that governments cannot deliver sustainable development alone. At RioCentro and throughout Rio during the week, a festival of sustainable development-related activities took place, involving tens of thousands of participants. Many of the world’s leading proponents of sustainability spent most if not all of their time addressing important “side events.” Voluntary agreements were entered into by governments, NGOs, and major groups, including 500 companies and universities. Governments are involved in 50 of the 692 commitments, accounting for only 7%.

However, lingering questions remain: to what extent are these commitments additional, have resources been committed, and will they be monitored and evaluated? These seem to be left to civil society to sort out in order to hold government, industry and other organizations accountable. But the overarching question is the extent to which this bottom-up approach can contribute to actions needed to address the sustainability crises identified by the scientific community.


Participants in the UNCSD negotiations and summit watchers were treated to a highly unusual moment in the history of multilateral environmental negotiations on sustainable development. By successfully facilitating—perhaps forcing—a consensus early in the process, the Brazilians preserved the quality and integrity of the main outcome, “The Future We Want.” In doing so they also preserved the legacy of the original Rio “Earth Summit,” which is closely identified with the city, thus saving two summits.

The host country’s decision to intervene prior to the Conference and launch the pre-conference informal consultations was, undoubtedly, driven in part by the fact that they shared a widely held view that a prolongation of intense negotiations was unlikely to result in an improved document. Their confident leadership style drew negative comparisons with the lackluster management of the preparatory process as a whole. Had the Conference negotiations been allowed to proceed in the traditional manner to the bitter end—with the media reporting stand-offs, late nights and rumors of collapse (a real risk here)—the Brazilian hosts would have received much of the blame. By taking some of the media attention off the negotiating text and allowing a greater focus to fall on the much more positive news generated by a festival of side events throughout Rio, the host country calculated that the negotiating text would also emerge in a much better light. By salvaging perceptions of the process, the host country may, at least, have encouraged observers to take a closer look at the negotiated text and appreciate that a sound judgment should be held off until future decisions are formed and taken at the level of the UNGA, for example. As one delegate commented: “No summit can be reduced to a text!”

So the host country set out to make sure that the Rio+20 process could “bring back a certain rationality to the negotiations.” They had noted the lessons from recent climate negotiations where late night stand-offs and subsequent poor decisions have been followed by months of interpretation, re-interpretation and, occasionally, breakdowns in consensus. The host country had been deeply concerned by the resulting loss of confidence in the ability of the multilateral process to deal effectively with sustainable development issues. They were motivated by a desire not only to preserve the legacy of Rio, but to preserve the reputation of multilateralism itself. For Brazil and others, multilateralism provides an important purchase on shaping the international environment. They sought to bring back this dimension of how well the intergovernmental negotiating process can work if delegations can agree on things without the unnecessary brinkmanship, exhausting late nights and confusion. Secondly, they did everything in their power to preserve the unity of purpose within the G-77/China in order to simplify the consultation process on the preparation of the negotiating text during pre-conference informal discussions. And finally, they made a series of judgment calls on the text, based on a careful assessment of how the world has changed in the twenty years since the first Rio “Earth Summit,” and this enabled them to reach a series of understandings—sometimes uncomfortable—with the delegations. Brazil’s confident and high stakes approach to the Rio+20 negotiations exemplified its status as an emerging broker and guardian of the multilateral system, thus ensuring that they repeated their 1992 achievement in bringing the UNCSD to a successful conclusion.


As the Nobel Laureates, scientific leaders and others reminded those in RioCentro, this is the era where humankind has become the dominant driver of geological change on earth, forcing a recognition that all activity must now be judged against its contribution to the creation of a civilization that can flourish within the “safe operating space for humanity” defined by social and ecological boundaries. This will be an era that some believe demands nothing less than a “great transformation” or new narrative with an unprecedented turn in our approaches to all three dimensions of sustainable development—viewed not in isolation but as a “triple helix.”

For the science community, Rio hosted some important events, among them the launch of the “Future Earth” initiative, a research-based collaboration between several UN agencies and others, and a dialogue between Nobel laureates and young people. The formal opening of the conference with ministers featured a video prepared by “Planet Under Pressure,” and the outcome document itself includes a call to strengthen the science-policy interface.

We are experiencing a foretaste of a not-so-distant future in which ecological stresses will feed into profound challenges for our political institutions. Paradoxically, at this moment of transition, these institutions have also been exposed, in the course of the past twenty years, as largely unfit for purpose. In the context of sustainable development and climate politics, these institutions have suffered a popular loss of confidence that in itself is a source of risk. Too often, there is a perception that science gets left at the door.

All of this helps to explain, to some extent, the strange disconnect between the assessments of Rio+20 by civil society and many of the government delegates. There is a deep interest in preserving the integrity of multilateralism on the part of governments. But there is awareness too, that these same international institutions have been damaged by their failure to produce solutions that rise to the moment, effectively integrate the latest scientific evidence, and address the world as it is and not as it once was. In their Declaration on the eve of the Conference, “The Future We Choose,” The Elders, Nobel laureates and members of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel made some important observations about the need for a fully integrated science-based approach built on partnerships between the public and private sectors, and with civil society. During a workshop to put the final touches on their Declaration, several talked about a new contract between science and society on the issues of sustainable development. The Declaration states: “Such an integrated model which reflects the scientific consensus and is guided by the principles of responsibility and equity will and must provide a systemic solution that ensures the wise stewardship of the planet and its people.”

The popular perception among observers of multilateral negotiations that the most up-to-date science on the three pillars of sustainable development is seldom reflected when government delegations have gathered on occasions such as the UNCSD is becoming an explicit issue that will make or break confidence in the multilateral system’s approach to the environment and development. For how long, for example, can the science-based concept of “planetary boundaries” be ruled out of the discussion, as they were during discussions at Rio+20, in the face of calls for their inclusion from Major Groups, including Youth and Children. Discussions on the green economy were also a pale reflection of current global research on a new political economy of sustainable development that would place new economics at the heart of macroeconomic decision making at this time when fresh thinking is required to respond to the systemic crises around traditional models of growth.


In a final statement to a meeting of Major Groups at Rio+20, the Children and Youth caucus presented their judgment on the deliberations that failed to inspire them. They told the government delegations: “We came here to celebrate our generation. We have danced, dreamed and loved on the streets of Rio and found something to believe in. You have chosen not to celebrate with us.” It was a feature of Rio+20 that this youthful, radical and always hopeful challenge coincided in many ways with insights of The Elders of the Rio process.

One common theme across delegations and civil society has been a realization that governments cannot deliver sustainable development alone. The negotiating text recognizes the role of a wider global movement for sustainability. Unlike World Cup football there are no spectators in the game of sustainable development. To paraphrase the popular Mayan saying: “We are not simply the generation that we have been waiting for; we are the leaders we have been waiting for.”

Critical assessments of the multilateral process are useful but only insofar as they serve both to inform the legitimate aspiration to hold governments to account and identify responsibilities for the multitudes to translate even these limited ambitions into “The Future We Want,” while holding open the infinitely demanding proposition that the truth is also about a common future that we have not yet imagined.


Fourth Session of the INC to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury: This meeting is scheduled to be the fourth of five Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) meetings to negotiate a legally binding instrument on mercury.  dates: 27 June - 2 July 2012  location: Punta del Este, Uruguay contact: UNEP Mercury Programme  phone: +41-22-917-8192  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email:  www:

Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the ABS Protocol: The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Equitable Benefit-sharing Arising from their Utilization (ABS) will take place in India.  dates: 2-6 July 2012  location: New Delhi, India  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  www:

Second Meeting of the IWG on the Mid-term Evaluation of the UNCCD Strategy: The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) called for the creation of an Intersessional Working Group (IWG) on the mid-term evaluation of the ten-year Strategy for the Convention. dates: 2-6 July 2012  location: Bonn, Germany contact: UNCCD Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-2800  fax: +49-228-815-2898/99  email: www:

2012 ECOSOC Substantive Session: The 2012 Substantive Session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will comprise: a High-Level Segment from 2-9 July, which will include the Annual Ministerial Review from 2-3 July and the Development Cooperation Forum from 5-6 July; the Coordination Segment from 10-12 July; the Operational Activities Segment from 13-17 July; the Humanitarian Affairs Segment from 18-20 July; and the General Segment from 23-27 July. The session’s agenda will include issues related to sustainable development, during the thematic discussion on macroeconomic policies for productive capacity, employment creation, sustainable development and the achievement of the MDGs.  dates: 2-27 July 2012  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: Navid Hanif, ECOSOC Secretariat, DESA phone: +1-212-963-8415  fax: +1-212-963-1712  email:  www:

33rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government: The 33rd meeting of the Conference of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government will focus on, among other things, the results of Rio+20, and a draft five-year strategic plan for reform of the CARICOM Secretariat. dates: 4-6 July 2012  location: Saint Lucia  contact: CARICOM Secretariat  phone: +592-222-0094  fax: +592-222-0171 email:  www:

Ramsar COP 11: The 11th meeting of the contracting parties (COP 11) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat will be preceded by the 44th meeting of Standing Committee planned for 4 July 2012, and an additional day of regional meetings on 5-6 July. The Standing Committee agreed that the broad theme for World Wetlands Day 2012 and COP 11 is “Wetlands, Tourism and Recreation.”   dates: 6-13 July 2012  location: Bucharest, Romania  contact: Ramsar Secretariat  phone: +41-22-999-0170   fax: +41-22-999-0169  email:  www:

62nd Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee: The CITES Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention and oversees the management of the Secretariat’s budget; coordinates and oversees, where required, the work of other committees and working groups; carries out tasks given to it by the Conference of the Parties; and drafts resolutions for consideration by the Conference of the Parties.  dates: 23-27 July 2012  location: Geneva, Switzerland  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17  email:   www:

32nd Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group or Parties to the Montreal Protocol: The 32nd Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG-32) will prepare decisions for consideration at the 24th session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. dates: 23-27 July 2012  location: Bangkok, Thailand  contact: Ozone Secretariat  phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-4691 email:  www:

Additional Sessions of the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Groups: This meeting will include sessions of the: Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP); Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA); and Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).  dates: 30 August - 5 September 2012  location: Bangkok, Thailand  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: secretariat@unfccc.intwww:

World Urban Forum 6 (WUF6): This Forum will focus on the theme “The Urban Future,” and will feature six thematic open dialogues, including one on environment, urban mobility and energy. WUF 6 will also include a series of roundtables conducted by different peer groups, a World Urban Youth Assembly, a Gender Equality Action Assembly, and a Business Assembly.  dates: 1-7 September 2012  location: Napoli, Italy  contact: WUF Secretariat  phone: +254 20 762 3334  email:  www: 

Second Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change: The Conference, which will include a High-Level Meeting, is co-organized by the Governments of Viet Nam and the Netherlands, in collaboration with other partners, including the World Bank and the FAO. The meeting is organized around the theme “Hunger for Action” and will take stock of the implementation of the Roadmap for Action established at the 2010 conference in The Hague, the Netherlands. It will also set priorities for action while demonstrating early action on climate-smart agriculture as a driver for green growth. dates: 3-7 September 2012  location: Hanoi, Viet Nam  contact: Tran Kim Long, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development  phone: +(84-4) 38434682  fax: +(84-4) 37330752  www:

Third Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3): This meeting is expected to consider, inter alia: adding nanotechnology and hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products to the Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM) Global Plan of Action; adding endocrine disruptors and persistent pharmaceutical pollutants to the emerging issues; and the future of financing SAICM implementation after the expiration of the Quick Start Programme. dates: 17-21 September 2012  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8532  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: www:

67th Session of the UN General Assembly: The 67th regular session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 67) will convene at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, 18 September 2012. The General Debate will open on Tuesday, 25 September. The preliminary list of items to be included in the provisional agenda is contained in document A/67/50. A draft programme of work of the plenary is expected to be issued in July 2012.  date: 18 September 2012   location: UN Headquarters, New York  www:

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Peter Doran, Ph.D., Delia Paul, Keith Ripley, Nathalie Risse, Ph.D., James Van Alstine, Ph.D, and Lynn Wagner, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Leila Mead. 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), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the Government of Australia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2012 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 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.