UNEA: The Marriage of Rio +20 Outcomes

: On Friday, 20 June, 2014 a group of civil society representatives of all regions of the globe met to discuss the status of the 10 Year Framework ofChildren & Youth 10YFP Focal Points Juán, David & Sarah Programmes (10YFP) for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). Sustainable consumption and production seems to be on its way straight to the heart of the UN – in the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, this is a marriage of the trinity of the Rio+20 document – the United Nations Environment Assembly, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 10YFP on SCP

Ever since the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or “Rio +20,”[1] the 10 Year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP SCP[2]) has been housed within the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). At Open Working Group (OWG[3]) 7 last year, a group of eager and newly elected stakeholder focal points[4] (SFP) met with the 10YFP Secretariat, for the first time to explore the potential of their positions. Last week, those stakeholder focal points met again on the eves of the first session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly.[5]A group of 10YFP Focal Points

Though gaining attention, the ambiguity associated with the 10YFP carried over to this years meeting, in Nairobi, Kenya. Civil society representatives from the nine official Major Groups met, together with the 10YFP Secretariat. 10YFP, as the only formally adopted program coming from Rio +20, was a big achievement in itself. In terms of what is required from the framework, SFP do not have representation from all major groups; national focal point (NFP[6]) nominations have not concluded-there are currently 110 of 190 states that have identified NFPs; and the 10YFP Board, made up of ten seats and thirteen countries is still not functioning at its best.

The SFP meeting was essential to the further progression of the 10YFP and gave it the boost it needed. SFPs, aware of their acquired responsibilities, laid out what their perceived roles were to keep their respective interests heard. The meeting took on a discussion style and delivered pressures on the remaining Major Groups to elect SFPs. The Secretariat revealed the latest and sixth program- Sustainable Food Systems. As well, we were reassured that as popularity of the 10YFP was rising so were the financing from governments and private sector, both inside and outside the trust fund[7] for 10YFP.

The first session of UNEA, encapsulated all three Rio +20 outcomes along with the 10YFP and the SDGs. Expectations were at an all time low, though, this meeting was the best we had. Thus, the issue of “Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including sustainable consumption and production,” was welcomed at UNEA by civil society who have made great strides advocating for SCP as a stand-alone goal during the OWG sessions.

UNEA has the ability, where appropriate, to recommend draft resolutions for adoption at the UN General Assembly for UN system-wide implementation. In such a role, UNEA is ensuring the environmental pillar of sustainable development will be incorporated fully into the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The focus of SCP in the SDGs process at UNEA, will go forth, to inform ongoing discussions formulating the SDGs- the successors of the Millennium Development Goals.[8]

The first step the 10YFP SFPs took was to get a issue brief together on SCP and rally support from multiple stakeholders. Second, was to launch an awareness campaign with the use of the “I <3 SCP,” promotional buttons. These buttons, once pinned, transformed lapels and lanyards into beacons of hope to those advocating for 10YFP and signified the support of SCP in the SDGs. SFPs then took the initiative to reach out and talk to governments, NFPs and 10YFP board members on the subject.

Badging of UNEPs head Achim Steiner

Establishment of a relationship between the NFPs, the Board and the SFPs is perceived as key in promoting inter-ministerial meetings to bridge the gap between countries’ environmental ministries who are endorsing and signing on to 10YFP and development ministries that are endorsing SCP as one of the SDGs. This relationship is also potentially opening the flood gate collaboration, mobilization and general access to the mechanisms the 10YFP is designed to employ towards SCP.

Essentially a roadmap, 10YFP will used SFPs to reach the end destination, which is sustainable patterns of production and consumption. There in, SFPs are the key to making sure that the programmes in the 10YFP will be inclusive of those outside of the the “usual suspects” and ensure the financing and resources needed to sustainable consumption and production operations which have been lacking them. Thus, the inclusion of this 10YFP meeting enabled the marriage of the three outcomes of Rio +20.

As was agreed at Rio +20, the OWG process would deliver the Sustainable Development Goals as successors of the Millennium Development Goals. Six months ago SCP was not on the radar, in the upcoming and final Open Working Group session, OWG 13, SCP is all but guaranteed to be a SDG, as well as having other SDGs targeting SCP.

Civil society are waiting for the Co-Chairs to release the latest version of the SDGs outlined in the “zero draft,” in preparation for OWG 13.[9] Until then, civil society and governments will have an opportunity to reinforce the need for SCP (and stakeholder engegaement) in the High Level Political Forum next week.[10]

So what will 10YFP SFPs hope to achieve through participation in the HLPF and OWG 13 to come?

UNEA largely made progress in the areas that it was expected to deal with. However, by addressing SDGs and SCP, here it will be able to influence and bring a higher profile to the issue of SCP. The attention given to this issue is further reinforced by the 10YFP, which is essentially a measurement instrument for an SCP goal. Though, it is doubtful SCP will be left out of the final package of SDGs, it is impossible to ignore its relevance as a target in all of the SDGs and in the Post 2015 agenda.

As for the 10YFP SFPs, true breakthroughs were made at the meeting with the Secretariat and with the board members present, which marked a significant symbolic shift in the framework, and legitimacy of SCP at the international policy making level..Meetings of this nature have proved to be vital to the engagement of civil society with both the UN and Member States.

 

[1] The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) is being organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236 (A/RES/64/236), took place in Brazil in June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.

[2] The 10 Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) is a global framework of action to enhance international cooperation to accelerate the shift towards SCP in both developed and developing countries.The framework supports capacity building, and facilitates access to technical and financial assistance for developing countries for this shift. The 10YFP aims at developing, replicating and scaling up SCP and resource efficiency initiatives, at national and regional levels, decoupling environmental degradation and resource use from economic growth, and thus increasing the net contribution of economic activities to poverty eradication and social development. The framework is meant to encourage innovation and cooperation among all stakeholders.

[3]The seventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals dealt with, sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and waste); and Climate change and disaster risk reduction.

[4]Stakeholder focal points represent civil society in promoting SCP in various areas and through different activities, such as research, lobbying, advocacy, training, financing, outreach, networking and catalysing multi-stakeholder partnerships. Good examples of major groups and stakeholder contributions to SCP are registered in the Global SCP Clearinghouse.

[5]The United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) is a result of the call made by world leaders at Rio +20, to strengthen and upgrade UNEP as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and by establishing universal membership in its Governing Council. Subsequently, at the first universal session of the UNEP Governing Council held in February 2013, Member States recommended to the UN General Assembly that the Governing Council, the 58-member governing body of UNEP in place since 1972, be renamed the United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme with universal membership. In March 2013, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/67/251, formally changing the designation of the Governing Council to the “United Nations Environment Assembly”. Now all the 193 United Nations Member States, Observer States and other stakeholders participate in discussions and decision-making on issues that affect the state of the environment and global sustainability.

[6]National focal points are nominated by Governments “for engagement with the 10-year framework of programmes, with a view to ensuring contact and coordination with the board and the secretariat” (A/CONF.216/5 – paragraph 4.d).

[7]The United Nations Environment Programme will establish a trust fund for sustainable consumption and production (SCP) programmes to mobilize voluntary contributions from multiple sources, including public/donor contributions, the private sector and other sources.

[8] The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

[9] The “zero draft” released on June 2, 2014 introduced proposed goals and targets on sustainable development for the Post 2015 development agenda.

[10]The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development is the main United Nations platform dealing with sustainable development. It provides political leadership and guidance; follows up and review progress in implementing sustainable development commitments and addresses new and emerging sustainable development challenges; enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

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