UNCSD Informal Consultations Conclude, Additional Negotiating Time Scheduled

4 May 2012: The second round of “informal informal” consultations on the draft outcome document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) made some progress in clarifying positions and finding compromise text, and agreed on 21 paragraphs ad referendum (pending agreement on the final text). Given the large amount of bracketed text remaining, the Bureau scheduled an additional week of negotiations prior to the June Rio+20 event.

The second round of informal consultations took place from 23 April-4 May 2012, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Titled “The Future We Want” and 19 pages in length, the zero draft of the outcome document was released on 10 January 2012. This version incorporated input from UN Member States and other stakeholders, as well as comments offered during the Second Intersessional Meeting for the UNCSD (Intersessional II) in December 2011. The zero draft then was discussed at meetings held at UN Headquarters in January and March 2012, when delegates proposed numerous amendments. At the conclusion of the March meeting, the draft had grown to 206 pages in length, including all of the proposed amendments.

From 23 April-4 May, delegates endeavored to make progress on the draft text, in what was originally slated to be the last round of informal informal negotiations prior to the Preparatory Committee's third and final meeting (PrepCom III) in Rio de Janeiro in June, just prior to UNCSD itself. However, at the end of the meeting, 400 paragraphs remained bracketed, including text on issues such as the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) - including the future status of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) - and a proposal to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Recognizing the considerable work that was still required, and based on a meeting earlier in the day with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who emphasized that Rio+20 is a once-in-a-generation event, the UNCSD Bureau decided on 4 May to hold an additional negotiating session prior to the Conference. This session will take place from 29 May-2 June 2012, at UN Headquarters in New York. [IISD RS Meeting Coverage]