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Brazil, Host of UNCSD, Proposes Change of Dates

Rio+204 November 2011: Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), briefed States and other stakeholders on Conference preparations, indicating a proposed change of dates for the Conference itself as well as the third session of its Preparatory Committee (PrepCom III).

Sha provided a summary of views that have emerged through the preparatory process, including: the idea of sustainable development goals (SDGs); the importance of “three magic words – integration, implementation, and coherence” in the Conference's consideration of Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD); and strong interest in the creation of a Sustainable Development Council (SDC) and in strengthening the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), improving coherence at the regional and national levels, and strengthening the UN's contribution at all levels, potentially using the Delivering as One initiative as a model.

On green economy, Sha said States have expressed both interest and concern, leading to an understanding that such a shift must account for specific national circumstances. He described emerging consensus that a green economy is not an excuse for green protectionism in trade or conditionality in aid and finance; and that it could be a way to promote solutions that synergize both growth and environmental protection, and include the poor as “active participants, and the main beneficiaries.”

Sha noted that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has prepared a series of Issue Briefs to inform the preparatory process. Upcoming briefs in the series will cover: oceans, agriculture and food security, energy, sustainable cities, SDGs, and green jobs. He also announced that the independent study prepared by a DESA consultant on IFSD has been posted online. The study analyzes the legal, financial and structural implications of the five options identified in the Nairobi-Helsinki Outcome of the 26th Session of the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF).

On upcoming elements of the preparatory process, Sha noted that 507 contributions had been submitted for the Compilation Document by the 1 November 2011 deadline. This total includes 57 contributions from member States, five from political groups, 58 from UN system entities and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), four from regional preparatory meetings, and 402 from Major Groups.

He said the UNCSD Bureau, which will meet next on 8 November 2011, will provide guidance on the issuing of the Compilation Document by late November. Subsequently, at Intersessional II, taking place from 15-17 December 2011, States will provide views on the structure, content and format of the Outcome Document, to guide the Co-Chairs in drafting its “zero draft” by mid-January 2011. Negotiations on the draft are expected to begin at the end of January, and to take place in week-long informal consultations in February, March and April 2011. Sha expressed hope that PrepCom III would complete these negotiations. He acknowledged that this would be “a miracle,” but encouraged States to accomplish it anyway and surprise everyone.

Finally, Sha announced that he had been advised earlier that morning that Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, had just announced her proposal that the Conference dates be changed from 4-6 June 2011 to 20-22 June 2011. Sha said that the dates of preparatory and negotiating meetings also may be adjusted accordingly, and that the Bureau would offer guidance on this matter.

The representative of Brazil added that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Rousseff had met and decided to reconsider the dates of both the Conference and PrepCom III, “to allow for participation at the highest level.” The new proposed dates are as follows: PrepCom III, 13-15 June 2011; UNCSD, 20-22 June 2011. The intervening four days would provide time for other events, as in the original schedule.

It was noted that States are currently negotiating a resolution on Implementation of Agenda 21 (under agenda sub-item 19 (a) of the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee), which will define modalities for the Conference.

Sha also urged States to donate as generously as possible to the Trust Fund supporting the preparation of developing countries' national reports to the Conference. [IISD RS Sources] [Remarks by Sha Zukang]