A strong governance framework is critical for advancing sustainable development

25 March 2012, New York, United States - A strong governance framework, including implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, is critical for advancing sustainable development. This was the key message of a workshop entitled “Improving the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development - A Deep Dive into Governance Issues and the Rio+20 Zero Draft”, 25 March 2012, New York, United States. The workshop sought to define ambitious and visionary outcomes on the second theme of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, Rio+20, June 2012) “Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development” (IFSD). It was organized by The Access Initiative (TAI) in collaboration with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UNITAR, and the World Future Council. The event took place in the margins of the third Intersessional Meeting of the UNCSD and brought together over 100 participants from Government, civil society, business and international organizations. UNITAR partnered in the event, in light of its collaboration with some nine developing countries to support national capacity development related to Principle 10 which promotes access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

Ms. Amina Mohamed and Mr. Jose Luis Balmaceda.Following the welcoming remarks by Ms. Amina Mohamed, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, the workshop was opened by Mr. Jose Luis Balmaceda, Director, Environment Department at the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Balmaceda highlighted: “Any institutional framework must strike a balance between the three pillars of sustainable development and must provide adequate provisions for effective participation of stakeholders.” He further said that Chile had proposed the adoption of a regional Convention on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration to foster access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

Working Group DiscussionsThe working groups and presentations centered on the following topics: Implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and Compendium of Commitments; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); International Environmental Governance and the next generation of Sustainable Development Governance; as well as Ombudsperson for Future Generations. Key messages that derived from the discussions included inter alia:

  • Principle 10 implementation and the proposed Compendium of Commitments require strong accountability and monitoring mechanisms to be effective.
  • A robust governance framework for sustainable development can be part of the SDGs, but foremost needs a strong reference in other parts of the Rio outcome document.
  • Rio+20 should agree on the transformation of the Commission on Sustainable Development into a Council with renewed political authority.
  • International environmental governance is an integral part of the IFSD framework and both need strengthening. Rio+20 is expected to deliver on the upgrade of UNEP into a specialized agency.
  • The establishment of an Ombudsperson for Future Generation can help to bring the long-term view and intergenerational equity to policy making.

A document with all messages from the workshop can be downloaded here.

The UNCSD (Rio+20) is being held in Rio de Janeiro, 20-22 June 2012. The objective of the Rio+20 Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges. The Conference focuses on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.