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UNITAR Launches Rio Preparation Forum

25 October 2011: The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) recently held a special briefing on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), as the first event in its Rio Preparation Forum (RPF) initiative. The workshop addressed the two themes of the Conference: the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) and a green economy.

Convening on 25 October 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, the briefing featured presentations by Nikhil Chandavarkar, Officer-in-Charge, Division for Sustainable Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and Maria Teresa Mesquita Pessôa, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN.

Chandavarkar highlighted the “landmark statement” made by UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, US, on 28 June 2011, which identified seven emerging issues from the preparatory meetings held to date at the regional and international levels. He expressed the hope that, in addition to the “focused political document” expected as the official outcome, the Conference also would result in various stakeholder initiatives and partnerships. On means of implementation, he suggested that Rio+20 could launch a development financing mechanism, potentially similar to the Green Climate Fund, to “go beyond classic ODA.” On the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), Chandavarkar said establishing a Sustainable Development Council (SDC) modeled on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) would not require changing the UN Charter but could be decided by the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Given a strong enough mandate, he said, an SDC could monitor implementation through peer reviews. Finally, he said States had not yet reached consensus on sustainable development goals (SDGs) but that the UNCSD could set in motion a consultation process, potentially addressing both the post-2015 development agenda and possible SDGs.

Mesquita Pessoa added that, on IFSD, Brazil had launched the idea of an umbrella structure but it was not fully defined. She said Brazil is interested in the forthcoming independent study on the various options.

In addition to this special briefing, UNITAR's RPF initiative also will host: a high-level side event during the Second Intersessional Meeting for the UNCSD, in December 2011, on “technologies for sustainable development;” a full-day workshop, titled “Holistic Examination of Sustainable Development, taking into consideration the notion of Harmony with Nature,” on 10 January 2012; a full-day workshop titled, “Green Economy Realities – Benefits and Obstacles,” in late February 2012; and a full-day, wrap-up workshop, titled “Moving toward Rio 2012, Integration of Perspectives, Policy Dilemmas, and Expectations for Beyond June 2012,” in April 2012.

The RPF aims increase knowledge of “the complexities of sustainable development issues” and provide delegates with tools to participate in the negotiation process. [UNITAR Press Release] [Webpage on Special Briefing] [Sha Zukang Statement at National Press Club] [IISD RS Sources]