SDG2012 is Stakeholder Forum's programme on Sustainable Development Governance (SDG) towards Rio+20. The programme includes our work as secretariat for the sustainable development network which is managed by the Climate and Sustainability Platform, ANPED and IUCN. Our programme and our work with the network seeks to make a contribution to one of the two main themes identified for Rio+20 - the institutional framework for sustainable development. The programme includes a number of elements:
As part of the SDG2012 programme Stakeholder Forum wrote and commissioned a series of think pieces on sustainable development governance. The think pieces focus on a range of issues, including:
• The global institutional framework for sustainable development - including the role of the Commission for Sustainable Development, the management of sustainable development across the UN system, the status of sustainable development within ECOSOC, and other issues.
•Reform of International Environmental Governance - the role of UNEP in advancing the environmental pillar of sustainable development globally, the relationship between environment and trade,
•Global finance and sustainable development - the mainstreaming of sustainable development into International Finance Institutions (IFIs), the role of IFIs in advancing environmental objectives
•National, regional and local governance for sustainable development - the role of National Sustainable Development Councils, the role of local governance in advancing sustainable development
•Civil society - the role of civil society in the governance of sustainable development , in enhancing accountability, in monitoring and in implementing
•Corporate Accountability for sustainable development - the role of corporate accountability in advancing sustainable development, and the relative merits of voluntary methods vs regulation
•Compliance and Enforcement - the need for global mechanisms to better ensure compliance to global agreements relating to sustainable development
If you interested in writing on any of these themes, or have any articles or publications that you would like to share with Stakeholder Forum, please contact Farooq Ullah, Head of Policy and Advocacy, who is managing sdg2012.
By Ingeborg Niestroy,Secretary General, European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC)
The article captures the diffusion of Sustainable Development Councils (SDCs), providing analysis of different models regarding tasks and function, as well as good practice examples and some insights on failures and challenges. As there is little data available for the global picture, the article focuses on Europe, where it is based on surveys and other studies.
By Uchita de Zoysa
SCP is assumed to become a discussion topic under a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. This is to frame the conceptual framework of SCP. But if the SCP dialogue is to provide a tangible outcome of UNCSD 2012, it should be positioned as a governance discussion. Therefore, SCP Governance needs to now emerge in the UNCSD 2012 agenda and the discussions should be framed under the institutional framework for sustainable development.
A Preliminary Examination of the Possibilities for the Institutional Representation of the Interest of Future Generations and Environmental Protection within the System of the United Nations
By Horváth Luca Kornélia, Office for the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner
This study examines the possible ways of establishing a new United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Future Generations/Environment. At the same time we keep in mind the task of increasing the effectiveness of the UN’s environmental functions by rationalising the competences of present bodies.
Lessons from GATT/WTO for enhancing UNEP
By Alejo Etchart, Environmental Consultant and Advisor to Stakeholder Forum
This document analyses some implications of the GATT/WTO regime, as well as of the process of transformation from GATT to WTO, for the environmental governance and for an eventual upgrade of the UNEP. It particularly addresses some questions to help Stakeholder Forum (SF) take a position on the validity of GATT/WTO model as a reference for that eventual upgrade, possibly in the form of a World Environment Organization (WEO).
Sustainable Development Governance and a Sustainable Development Board
By Mohammed T. El Ashry - Senior Fellow, UN Foundation
This paper examines how despite all the highpowered gatherings, agreements and commitments, little progress has been achieved in improving the environment and in pursuing sustainable development.
Sustainable development enjoys widespread recognition as a policy goal which, if implemented, is capable of providing “healthy and fulfilling lives for the current generation,while entrusting to future generations the means to do the same” (UNCED definition of 1992). Progress has been made in this regard since the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 - for example, on sustainable development metrics. Yet, despite several international processes and agreements over the last 20 years,long-identified unsustainable trends continue.
By Jan-Gustav Strandaneas, Stakeholder ForumEstablishing a new United Nations Council on Sustainable Development would be a momentous decision, and one that would signal to the world the critical urgency and the high priority given to the issue of sustainable development. A series of environmental urgencies, increasing disparities and lack of global social equity, absence of equitable financial development, failures of the three pillars of sustainable development all substantially documented, have created a situation in which it has become a political necessity to act simply to save the future of the world
By Klauss Bosselmann, Peter Brown and Brendan Mackey
In response to the agenda for Rio+20, we address here a major problem in sustainable development that brings together the issues of a green economy and institutional arrangements: how can we make more secure, abundant and widely shared those classes of public goods that are central to sustainable development but which cannot be satisfactorily addressed through market-based macroeconomic policy instruments? In addressing this question, we take as a presupposition that the international community’s search for more sustainable ways of living is to be guided by ethical principles as articulated in international hard and soft law, along with civil society declarations
By Johannah Bernstein, International Environmental Lawyer
International environmental governance (IEG) has been the subject of reform for the past two decades. Efforts have taken the form of high-level advisory groups, independent commissions, task forces, UN General Assembly consultations and ministerial consultative groups. This paper looks at the need for a new paradigm for environmental governance that is firmly rooted in a global good ethos, which not only recognizes the interconnected nature of worsening global challenges, but which also emphasises the importance of authority and resources to compel collective action in the face of narrow national interests.
Sustainable Development Governance towards Rio+20: Framing the Debate
By Jan-Gustav Strandeneas, for Stakeholder Forum
This paper outlines the history of global governance for sustainable development, charting some of the significant milestones and also identifying the challenges to progress and reform. It outlines some recommendations for taking forward sustainable development in the UN system, and stresses the need for immediate and ambitious reform.
By Dr Maria Ivanova, University of Massachusets
This paper addresses the need for reform of the environmental pillar of sustainable development at the global level, and responds to the recent developments from the UNEP Consultative Group of Ministers and High Level Representatives on IEG reform. Dr Ivanova outlines the contours of the current IEG reform debate, and juxtaposes them with some of the underlying challenges in addressing environmental issues globally. Whilst reform options represent a significant step in the right direction, more fundamental reform is needed to advance environmental objectives globally.
This paper outlines the need for reform of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) as part of a broader package of sustainable development governance reforms. It argues that the decision-making of IFIs is sometimes at odds with the objectives of the UN – operating within the language of finance and development, rather than environment and human rights. As the World Bank and other IFIs begin to play an increasingly important role in financing sustainable development, they will need to find ways to better collaborate with UN agencies. Rio2012 must advance a dialogue on how to reconcile the Bank's focus on economic growth with UN imperatives of environmental and human rights.
It is envisaged that the ICE would become the principal court dealing with international environmental law, helping to clarify existing treaties and other international environmental obligations for states and for all other parties including trans-national corporations. It would do this through dispute resolution, advisory opinions, and the adjudication of contentious issues presently unclear or unresolved.
Efforts to improve the institutional framework for sustainable development at all levels, and international environmental governance institutions, must include strengthening of science-policy links, as existing and new institutions require access to the best scientific knowledge available. This includes knowledge in the social and economic sciences, as well as interaction with research communities worldwide. This also requires criteria for good 'science for policy', including scientific quality and credibility; policy relevance and coherence, and legitimacy in a political context.
This paper makes the case for the establishment of a World Environment Organisation. It traces the development of the debate for a WEO over the past 40 years, and outlines the different models that have been proposed. Biermann argues that the transformation of UNEP into a Specialized Agency - either a World Environment Organisation or a UN Environment Organisation - would follow a long-standing policy of functional specialisation within the UN system and would significantly enhance the authority of UNEP. Such a set-up would allow the negotiation of environmental Treaties within 'sub-committees' of the UNEO General Assembly, which would then be adopted by the membership, thus moving away from the current fragmented system of Multilateral Environmental Agreements. It could also significantly enhance efficiency through the development of common reporting frameworks across multiple environmental regimes, thereby reducing the reporting burden on developing countries. The development of a WEO is presented not as a 'silver bullet' but as an important building block for the enhanced effectiveness of earth system governance.
By Frans Verhagen
This think-piece proposes that the present unjust, unsustainable, and, therefore, unstable international monetary system, which presently functions without a standard, be transformed into one that has carbon-based standard. Such a carbon-based monetary system, the most important pillar of the Tierra Fee & Dividend (TFD) global governance system, put forward in this proposal, would replace the present one, characterized by financial imbalances, volatile exchange rates, currency disputes, currency manipulation and speculation and, last but not least, a global reserve system that costs non-hard currency nations billions of dollars annually. Additionally, such a transformation would contribute to solving the challenges posed by the climate crisis, sustainable development and a dysfunctional monetary system simultaneously in that it would also provide the basis for an integrated global governance system. Thus the TFD addresses itself to the two main objectives of the Rio 2012 Earth Summit process, i.e. promotion of a green economy as part of sustainable development and the establishment of a global governance system. Moreover, as noted above, it also addresses the climate crisis, an area of concern that is not included in the present planning process though it is widely acknowledged to heavily impact economies—green or otherwise—and all programs of sustainable development.
Such a transition is already evolving, but will take vision and leadership at this crucial time to leverage and extend it. A preemptory focus on traditional government regulatory control will fail to harness these hugely important forces and in so doing will effectively stifle necessary efforts to extend environmental protection and sustainability deeper into the technical, economic and consumer decision-making that is shaping our future around the Globe.
By Konrad Otto-Zimmermann
This paper argues that the conceptualisation of international environmental governance must be broadened. Currently discussions all-too-often revolve around reform of the UN system, which does not encompass a broader perspective on how best to govern the global commons. The role of cities and local government is crucial in the broader conceptualisation of governance. By 2050 cities may account for 90% of the global economy – to address the challenge that this will pose, local governments will need to take leadership in implementing innovative initiatives to reduce environmental impact. This kind of action is exemplified by the launch of the Cities for Climate Protection campaign for voluntary CO2 emission reductions in the aftermath of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Building on this, the paper argues for 'responsive evolution' in global governance, developing multi-stakeholder and multi-layered governance to make global institutional arrangements more responsive to tomorrow's needs.
This paper argues that governments that have not already done so must establish legal rights to access to information, public participation and justice and all governments must demonstrate that they are implementing these rights. This paper argues that the Rio+20 outcome should include an affirmation of these rights, including a commitment to the development of new global and regional treaties.
Stakeholder Forum is inviting a diversity of stakeholders globally who are experts in sustainable development governance to join our sdg2012 network. The network brings together those who have contributed to the think pieces as well as other stakeholders to share and exchange on issues relating to sustainable development governance, and to identify synergies and common positions where relevant.
The network is open to those who have a significant expertise in sustainable development governance, so if you feel you have something to bring to this network, please contact Farooq Ullah.
Based on the think-pieces and the discussions undertaken through the sdg2012 network, Stakeholder Forum has made submissions to the preparatory process for Rio+20, as well as external processes such as the UNEP Consultative Group of Ministers and High Level Representatives on IEG. Stakeholders within the sdg2012 group were invited to contribute to and endorse these submissions.
Stakeholder Forum produced a document to input to the Consultative Group on Environmental Governance. To view the document click here.
For the UNCSD preparatory process, Stakeholder Forum provided input into the outcome document for the Rio+20 Conference. To read the zero draft submission click here. Stakeholder Forum later undertook an analysis of the zero draft submissions. The analysis identifies the likely concepts and initiatives of the Rio+20 conference. To read the analysis click here.
Sustainable development governance is a complex issue, and its prominence on the agenda for Rio+20 represents a milestone in a historic and evolving process to make institutions and governance structures at all levels fit for purpose. Many stakeholders, and even many government representatives, are not necessarily familiar with the history of the global debate on sustainable development governance, and may not be fully aware of some of the most important developments.
To help stakeholders at all levels to familiarise themselves with this theme, Stakeholder Forum is producing a number of resources that will help to demystify SDG and make in accessible to a broader range of actors. This includes:
Pocket Guide to Sustainable Development Governance, 2nd Edition
This guide was jointly initiated by Stakeholder Forum and the Commonwealth Secretariat in response to the perceived ‘knowledge gap’ on the history and dynamics of global governance for sustainable development. A first edition was published in 2011 and this second edition was updated in February 2012. To download the 2nd Edition guide as a PDF click here.
Pocket Guide to Sustainable Development Governance
This guide, published in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat, provides an overview of the concepts, proposals, processes and significant milestones on sustainable development governance at the global level. It is available to download as a PDF here.
SDG Dossier will provide an online clearing-house for all information relating to global SDG and IEG. It will build on and replace Stakeholder Forum's IEG dossier, and will provide regular updates on all relevant developments and events relating to SDG. The dossier will include a dedicated list-serve where stakeholders can subscribe for regular updates.