Sunday, June 24, 2012

Outcome Document Endorsed at Brazil Conference on Sustainable Development

Leaders endorse Outcome Document

Saturday, 23 June 2012 19:07
Morris Mkwate recently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

World leaders have approved a global agreement under which United Nations member states are expected to take comprehensive steps towards sustainable development.

More than US$500 billion (in commitments) has also reportedly been mobilised in terms of the initiative that also drew 700 commitments.

The leaders endorsed the Outcome Document at the close of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil last Friday.

The document primarily advocates strategies to attain poverty reduction, social equity and environmental protection.

President Mugabe was among the more than 100 heads of state and government who attended the three-day conference.

Addressing plenary on Friday, UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon said the gathering cleared the way for practical approaches on sustainable development.

“Rio+20 has given us a solid platform to build on. Rio+20 has affirmed fundamental principles — renewed essential commitments — and given us new direction,” he was quoted as saying.

“The Outcome Document provides a firm foundation for social, economic and environmental well-being. It is now our responsibility to build on it. Now the work begins.”

The Outcome Document, entitled “The Future we Want”, contains major action points.

Among them is a process to:

Establish sustainable development goals (SDGs);

Analyse how the “green economy” can facilitate sustainable development;

Strengthen the UN Environment Programme (Unep); and

Establish a new forum for sustainable development.

Others include developing a strategy for:

Sustainable development financing;

Recognising the importance of voluntary sustainable development commitments;

Promoting gender equality; and

Adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production.

Notable among the resolutions is the proposed establishment of an inter-governmental high-level forum specifically dedicated to sustainable development.

The forum will follow up on the implementation of sustainable development, but avoid encroaching on to the functions of bodies such as Unep.

It will also work to improve co-operation and co-ordination within the UN system with special focus on programmes and policies under its jurisdiction.

Part of the document reads: “The high-level forum could:

Provide political leadership, guidance, and recommendations for sustainable development;

Enhance integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development (the environment, society and economy) in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner at all levels; and

Provide a dynamic platform for regular dialogue, and stocktaking and agenda-setting to advance sustainable development.”

Further to the document, US$513 billion was reportedly mobilised from 13 major commitments.

The underlying voluntary commitments totalling 700 were by governments, civil society groups and businesses.

Investors contributed US$50 billion towards the realisation of the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, which seeks to ensure energy access, double energy efficiency and also double the renewable energy share by 2030.

Eight multi-lateral development banks pledged US$175 billion in support of sustainable transport in developing countries.

Rio+20 came two decades after the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Prior to the conference, developing nations advocated a reaffirmation of principles adopted in 1992 such as common but differentiated responsibilities, financing of Third World sustainable development initiatives and technology transfer.

A rift emerged between developed countries and their counterparts in the South after the former sought to renege on their commitments.

However, a series of negotiations later culminated in the endorsement of the Outcome Document.

Member states concurred that the effects of the world economic crisis continue to restrict the capacity of many nations to fulfil their previous commitments.

Focus is now on alternative funding, including from emerging economic giants.

Sustainable development is essentially a balance between human requirements and environmental protection.

Energy, water, food security, jobs, cities, oceans and disasters are the foremost target areas.

President Mugabe, the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Head of State and Government, returned home from the conference yesterday.

Vice-President Nkomo, Defence Minister Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Transport and Communications counterpart, Cde Nicholas Goche, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and service chiefs were among those who received him at the Harare International Airport.

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