UNCSD Bureau Releases “Zero Draft”

RIO+2010 January 2012: The Co-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) have circulated the “zero draft” of the outcome document of the Conference. The draft is intended to serve as the basis for negotiations between now and the Conference, scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20-22 June 2012.

Titled “The Future We Want,” the document contains five sections, in line with the agreement reached at the Bureau's 20th meeting on 22 December 2011 and based on the recommendations of delegates at the Second Intersessional Meeting of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

In the section on preamble/stage setting, the draft would have heads of State and government gathering for Rio+20 express: determination to eradicate poverty and strive for economic growth that benefits all; commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015; commitment to addressing emerging issues from a human development perspective while protecting the planet; and determination to pursue the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD). “Taken together our actions should fill the implementation gaps and achieve greater integration among the three pillars of sustainable development – the economic, the social and the environmental.”

In the section on renewing political commitment, leaders would: reaffirm Rio principles and past action plans; assess 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 (Integration, Implementation, Coherence); address engaging Major Groups; and commit to a Framework for Action, which refers to governance and filling implementation gaps, the global partnership for sustainable development, and a framework requiring private companies to integrate sustainability information within the reporting cycle.

In the section on green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, the draft says a green economy should be based on the Rio principles, and that sustainable development must remain the overarching goal. It affirms the ability of each country to make its own choices, and adds that international support will be necessary for structural adjustments in developing countries. A green economy “should be an opportunity to all countries and a threat to none,” disavowing new trade barriers and conditionalities.

Per the draft, leaders would support the creation of an international knowledge-sharing platform on green economy, which could include: a menu of policy options; a toolbox of good practices in applying green economy policies at regional, national and local levels; a set of indicators to measure progress; and a directory of technical services, technology and financing that could assist developing countries.

Leaders would agree to provide and promote additional financing for developing countries, eliminate unhelpful subsidies, and support research and capacity development. They would also agree to be guided by a roadmap and timeline, including establishment of indicators by 2012-2015, implementation by 2015-2030, and a comprehensive assessment of progress by 2030.

The section on institutional framework for sustainable development outlines principles for any reformed structure and outlines proposals in three major areas. Regarding the “GA, ECOSOC, CSD, SDC” proposal, leaders would either reaffirm the role of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) or resolve to transform it into a Sustainable Development Council (SDC). Regarding the “UNEP, specialized agency on environment proposal, IFIs, UN operational activities at country level,” leaders would decide either to strengthen the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) capacity by establishing universal membership in its Governing Council and calling for significantly increasing its financial base, or to establish a UN specialized agency for the environment with universal membership of its Governing Council, based on UNEP, with a revised and strengthened mandate, supported by stable, adequate and predictable financial contributions and operating on an equal footing with other UN specialized agencies. Regarding regional, national and local reforms, the document calls for strengthening regional and sub-regional mechanisms, and for countries to establish national sustainable development councils.

In the section on framework for action and follow-up, leaders would commit to actions in the following areas: food security; water; energy; cities; green jobs-social inclusion; oceans and seas, SIDS, including an agreement to negotiate at implementing agreement to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ); natural disasters; climate change; forests and biodiversity; land degradation and desertification; mountains; chemicals and waste; Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP); education; and gender equality. They would agree to launch a process to devise, by 2015, a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mechanism for reporting on progress, and they ask the Secretary-General for proposals on indicators and specific targets. Finally, they would ask the Secretary-General to initiate the development of indicators to complement Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and better integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development. Finally, commitments on Means of Implementation would address Finance, Science and Technology, Capacity Building, Trade, and Registry/compendium of commitments. [Publication: The Future We Want (Zero Draft)]