The Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 20 to 22 June 2012 with the key outcome for South Africa being the recognition of green economy policies as a viable tool for advancing sustainable development and poverty eradication.
The aims of the conference were to secure a renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed upon commitments as well as addressing new and emerging challenges. The conference was convened under two over-arching themes: “A green economy within the context of sustainable development” and “Poverty reduction and Institutional framework for sustainable development”.
The South African Government viewed the Rio +20 conference to be a critical milestone in the Global Sustainable Development regime, especially on key elements that included an agreement on the need to establish a Sustainable Development Council and General Assembly level and to upgrade the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to become the authoritative voice on environmental governance with the view to promote coherence in the coordination of the environment leg of sustainable development.
The conference also pronounced a process geared towards developing a set of sustainable development goals in line with the post 2015 development agenda. Another pronouncement the department is pleased about is the establishment of a sustainable development finance mechanism and that a clear process towards such a mechanism has been defined.
Furthermore, the global community has agreed on the establishment of a “High Level Political Forum” that will build on the functions of the Commission on Sustainable Development. This decision is aimed at strengthening the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development at a global level and promotes effective implementation of the sustainable development agenda.
Our Government is gratified regarding the adoption of the Global Framework for Sustainable Consumption and Production and the recognition of the importance of a multilateral instrument that will be geared at managing marine biodiversity beyond national borders. South Africa was the lead voice in calling for the recognition of the strategic role played by marine resources for sustainable development
The South African government is already working towards promoting coherence in the initiatives that are aimed at promoting sustainable consumption and production and the country will be moving into the implementation phase of the green economy initiatives as one of the tools to achieving sustainable development. To this effect, an acknowledgement of sustainability reporting for publicly listed companies and institutions is also seen as a significant milestone taken at Rio +20 and the South African Government will provide the necessary enabling framework for corporate sustainability performance and reporting.
South Africa has extended an invitation to its fellow member states to come together to contribute to the process created under the Finance “Means of Implementation” in the Rio+20 agreements. The process provides for the launch of an intergovernmental process to propose options on an effective Sustainable Development Financing Strategy to be considered by the UN General Assembly by 2014.
This process will “assess financing needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing instruments and frameworks, and evaluate additional initiatives, with a view to prepare a report proposing options to facilitate the mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives”, and calls for “a broad consultation with relevant international and regional financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders” to undertake this work.
While several positive funding initiatives and mechanisms are underway, we welcome the call for greater coherence and coordination to support sustainable development. We wish to particularly highlight the need to identify challenges that currently inhibit sustained finance for sustainable development by developing particularly least developed countries. Left unaddressed, there is the unfortunate risk that the growing discourse on financing the green economy would be decoupled from creating enabling financial “ecosystems” that mainstream sustainable development finance in support of the delivery of the goals committed to at Rio+20.
Creating an equitable and inclusive sustainable development finance landscape is a critical component of creating the Future We Want. Therefore, the South African government will lead a member states engagement during the fourth quarter 2012 to reflect on the critical elements to activate work towards the development of a Sustainable Development Financing strategy to facilitate mobilization of resources and their effective use in achieving sustainable development objectives
Therefore, the Government is proud to announce that the outcomes of the Rio +20 conference are in line with national developmental interests and that the commitments reached advance the decisions taken at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg in 2002.