Environmental Sustainability Consultation Enters Second Phase

The World We Want19 April 2013: The Permanent Missions of Costa Rica and France, in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), held a briefing to share the preliminary findings of the Global Thematic Consultation on Environmental Sustainability in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and introduce the next phase of the consultation. The final report of the thematic consultation is expected in June 2013.

At the briefing in New York, US, on 19 April 2013, Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France, presented the outcomes of the Leadership Meeting, held in San José, Costa Rica, on 18-19 March 2013, the culmination of the consultation's first phase. The outcomes included the importance of vertical integration at regional, national and other levels, and the need to transition to new model of governance allowing for greater participation. He said the need to integrate environmental sustainability in decision-making is not an opinion shared by all but needs to be confronted.

Saul Weisleder, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica, said the environment and human development are intrinsically united. He stressed the importance of good governance, noting that good governance and strengthening the rule of law are key for the post-2015 development agenda. He also stressed the need to: be more innovative not only on production but also on consumption; to accelerate action on climate change; and to approach the ongoing post-2015 development and sustainable development goals (SDG) processes from the perspective of human rights. He emphasized education as a fundamental pillar of a sustainable future.

Jeffery Huffines, CIVICUS, on behalf of Climate Action Network International (CAN International) commended the organizers for a comprehensive series of consultations, noting this contrasted with the preparation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) where Member States, civil society and the private sector lacked the opportunity to provide “advance input into the formulation of the goals.” At the Leadership Meeting, he said, civil society representatives were unanimous on the need for a fundamental paradigm shift in the current economic model, to allow for the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development. He outlined the need for all stakeholders to change the preconceived notions of “business as usual,” and urged civil society to engage in the consultations and use the results to hold their governments accountable for their promises.

Zehra Aydin, UNEP, and George Bouma, UNDP, said this consultation is unique in its focus on hearing people's views, rather than being driven by experts or UN agencies' mandates. On key findings of the first phase, they noted: many gaps remain on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and MDG 7 despite progress, the lack of integration between the different goals, and the need to address key linkages between issues or sectors. The meeting also found that more discussion was needed on: changing the narrative on environmental sustainability; the need for transformational change; linking the global agenda to country context; and the implementation challenge. The second phase of the consultation, taking place from 15 April-26 May 2013, consists of e-discussions focused on issues that came out of the Leadership Meeting, in order to further reflect upon these issues.

During the question-and-answer session, participants discussed, inter alia, the need to address economic growth and consolidate existing ideas and proposals on alternative ways to measure growth; the urgency to act; the importance of addressing environment and poverty linkages while taking into account that this is a long-term process and requires a change in mindset; the possibility of developing alternative models of development; the importance of implementing the issues highlighted; the impact civil society can have in implementing sustainable development; and the need for accounting.[IISD RS Story on Co-Chairs' Summary] [IISD RS Coverage of Leadership Meeting] [Environmental Sustainability Consultation Website] [Webcast of Briefing]