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Questionnaire for the Major Groups on


Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges
with Regard to Objective and Themes of UNCSD

Submission on behalf of the


Major Group on Youth and Children
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Attachment A

Questionnaire on
Renewing political commitment for sustainable development

I. Introduction

The overarching objective of UNCSD is to renew political support for sustainable


development, assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the
implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development,
and addressing new and emerging challenges.

The issue of renewed political commitment will need to be addressed in the longer
term context of how agreement among governments and other stakeholders at
UNCSD could help accelerate progress towards, inter alia: (i) the demographic goal
of stabilizing the global population; (ii) the developmental goal of extending the
benefits of development equitably to all segments of global society; and (iii) the
decoupling goal of ensuring that the use of materials and generation of wastes is
within the regenerative and absorptive capacities of the planet.

II. Questionnaire

Major groups and other stakeholders are invited to provide contributions on


experiences, success factors, challenges and risks pertaining to the UNCSD objective
“Renewing Political Commitment to Sustainable Development” in response to the
following questions which have been developed based on the discussions which took
place at the first Prepcom.

Experiences

1. Are there objective ways of measuring political commitment? What are the
relevant indicators? Which indicators are most useful from your perspective?
(e.g., New legislation enacted, Policy announcements, Budgetary allocation and
support, Prominence of relevant institutions, Level of media interest, etc.)

We see merit in the assumption of enacting Sustainable Development (SD) policies


being a good indicator for measuring political commitment. This legislation, however,
must be evaluated in terms of it’s ability to meet sustainable development goals and
the extent of its influence (either potential or observed). Nations or regions with more
comprehensive legislation should be recognised as having a higher level of political
commitment.

Therefore, we think it is important for parties, regions, as well as the international


system to perform a complete impact assessment to identify both the intended and
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unintended impacts of existing SD legislation and to ensure that the legislation is in


line with all three dimensions of sustainability.
The first step is identifying the SD indicators against which all participating States
assess their political commitment. The selection process for the indicators must also
be highly transparent and include several sessions of stakeholder dialogue. Ideally this
step would be completed in a timely fashion allowing Member States enough time to
carry out their assessments to a high level of detail and completeness. We would
propose the following dimensions to be assessed:

1) The presence of an explicit and detailed definition of SD as understood by that


nation or region (preferably indicated in a legislative document, such as the EU does
in SEC(2005) 161 to define SD indicators) or UN-system.

2) The presence of an overarching SD plan (e.g. the EU’s Strategy for Sustainable
Development here) and, if so, how comprehensive and detailed that strategy is.

3) The presence of an mechanism assuring the implementation of the Sustainable


Development strategy and it’s place in the organisation of a given state, region or
within the UN-system. For example, the Swedish Prime Minister’s Office houses a
Unit dedicated to SD.

4) The extent of involvement of citizens and their representative organisations, as a


measure for sustained political commitment for democracies. Participation is one of
the four dimensions of sustainable development under the Brundtland definition. It
entails politics, policy and decision-making as the areas that it influences. We believe
that an
excellent indicator would be whether all major groups are represented in the National
Council for Sustainable Development. This could be complemented through various
other indicators such as (a) number of organisations with sustainable development
goals in their mission statement, (b) number of individuals involved in these
organisations, (c) level of impact/ambition of these organisations (i.e. how much do
their activities fulfill or promote
SD goals? Number of individuals and/or decision-makers reached through educational
or lobbying activities are possible metrics). As discussed in Section III of Agenda 21,
strengthening the role of major group participants is crucial for achieving progress
towards SD.

5) The extent of popular and media interest in SD goals is an additional indicator for
popular interest and therefore sustained or future political commitment. Please note,
however, that both popular and media interest are not suitable direct indicators for
existing political commitment to SD, only for potential sustained or future political
commitment. It is useful to identify the potential for future political commitment but
this must be kept distinct
from an analysis of existing political commitment.
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6) Assess the breadth and efficacy of any implemented policies against the SD
indicators. An increased knowledge of the effectiveness of existing SD policies will
ideally guide future efforts to implement and modify such policies.

2. Based if possible on these indicators, how would you evaluate the political
commitment today to sustainable development in the country(ies)/region(s) of
interest to your group, compared to 1992? How would you evaluate the political
commitment of the international community compared to 1992?

In general, one could argue that there has been mixed progress in terms of political
commitment to sustainable development. While acknowledging that it requires
significant research and global agreement on the process, we believe that generating
an accurate estimation of political commitment for each nation, region and within the
UN-system is paramount.

A meaningful comparison across nations, and among international governance levels


is crucial in assessing where political commitment is located, and most important,
there where it’s lacking. Therefore, it should be the responsibility of States
participating in the High Level
Conference on Sustainable Development (HLCSD), with the guidance of the
secretariat, to undertake this analysis at the national, regional and international level
prior to the 2012 conference. However, as the indicators discussed above illustrate, an
accurate estimation of political commitment for each nation that would be meaningful
across nations requires significant research and global agreement on the assessment
process.

This is not a process that can be carried out completely here. However, this is an
extremely valuable process that Member States should agree to undertake before the
2012 conference. Obviously, such an assessment must be highly transparent and
incorporate stakeholder positions, including several sessions of stakeholder dialogue.
This is not only an informative process, but would also allow Parties with little or
underdeveloped experience in utilising SD indicators and impact assessments to begin
refining this process. They can be encouraged to maintain this process even after the
2012
meeting.

Success Factors

3. What actions have been introduced in your country to strengthen political support
for sustainable development?

One of the most crucial factors for achieving political support for Sustainable
Development is the presence and activity of a highly engaged and concerned civil
society. For example,the environmental movement in the US is constantly seeking
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more ambitious policy at the federal level: Power Shift 2009, Power Vote, the Great
Power Race and 10/10/10. for example, were meant to create more political
momentum towards passing climate and energy policy in the US and around the
world. The youth environmental movement is organizing and highly involved in these
initiatives.

While civil society has not always been successful in generating political support for
SD (e.g. the above-mentioned examples did not result in any climate policy in the
US), the absence of a broad and strong civil society would further erode political
support for SD, assuming that politicians in democracies are responsive to massive
demonstrations of public support for a certain policy pathway. These initiatives do not
always succeed in changing the minds of politicians who are already either
antagonistic or ambivalent towards SD goals such as climate and energy legislation,
but broad popular pressure from civil society has been instrumental in making
progress on various issues across the globe. (e.g. in state-level or local level
environmental policy making in the US).

Another strategy for countering the “anti-environmentalism” seen many countries


would be education on the need for SD from very young ages. For example, recycling
became a more accepted (though, admittedly, not completely well-implemented or
effective) tool for environmentalism in the US after mainstream advocacy and school
efforts to encourage it since the beginnings of its widespread implementation in the
late 1960s. Again, often these educational efforts began and still continue today
outside the formal school system, and often in, for example, youth clubs and youth
organisations like Scouts and 4H.

A quick review of the history of waste generation and recycling reveals that during
war time, with the accompanying shortages of metal, fabrics, etc., governments have
embarked on campaigns to encourage citizens to reduce waste, increase efficiency and
to save their garbage. An important question to ask is how to generate this sense of
urgency over the finite availability of resources in everyday life, outside times of
crisis? How is this urgency generated? During war time, it is likely a sense of fear that
drives a heightened awareness of consumption patterns, compounded by more
concerted government efforts to encourage such activity.

For example, increasing political commitment for SD for a US audience, will likely
require very specific lobbying for issues falling under SD, rather than pushing for SD
as a whole. Advocating “sustainable development” is likely to sound to US voters as
an radical leftist agenda from which the benefits are highly unclear. Advocating
“conservative use” of specific, targeted resources might be more palatable language.

Fear appears as a powerful emotion to evoke, but it is not likely to be the best strategy
for encouraging long term commitment to SD. This is because fear cannot be
sustained over long periods of time and because it would be preferable for consumers
to actively incorporate actions that support SD into their lifestyles to strengthen their
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investment in the idea and its processes. Education can play an important role in
encouraging consumers to appropriate SD (or its disaggregated parts) into their
national and local narratives.

An important strategy identified by the environmental community is to frame


lobbying or political support for addressing global environmental issues in terms of
how they impact individuals and communities in very concrete ways. For example, in
the US, much of the lobbying for renewable energy is argued on the grounds of
national energy security and job creation, two tangible issues at the federal and local
level, and not on the grounds of climate change, which is still a controversial issue for
the political right. Because most (though not all) of the threats of climate change will
occur on a global scale, and it is based on science that many do not understand, it is
difficult for US voters to rally behind it. There appears to be more support for
renewable energy legislation than climate legislation in the US, likely because the
benefits of renewable energy are more obvious to voters. As pointed out above,
increasing political support for SD would therefore likely require very specific
lobbying for issues falling under SD, rather than pushing for SD as a whole.

Again using the US as an example, some of the most prominent arguments against
environmental regulation and initiatives is that there is little or no economic benefit,
or that the economic costs are too high. These arguments rarely account for the costs
of externalities and/or future costs, which reveals the assumption that environmental
costs and/or costs to future generations are not valued equally to immediate economic
costs. In this instance there is very strong discounting for future concerns. Therefore,
it is important to note that not only do decision-makers believe there are trade-offs
among the three pillars of SD, but they strongly devalue the environmental pillar.

This focus on short-term economic concerns is likely exacerbated by the immediacy


of election cycles. Governments tend to plan and decide with the next election in
mind and the prospect of being re-elected, making it difficult for governments to
make decisions which would be perceived as politically damaging. Therefore difficult
decisions are often postponed or modified in order not to offend an electorate. For
example, a decision not to log, or not to fish, that may be desirable for reasons of
sustainable development would not be contemplated in the run-up to an election
because of the unemployment it would cause.

Historically, commitment to sustainable use of a product or resource is not brought


about purely by political will, but rather directly tied to its decline in popularity as a
commodity (see, for example, the whaling industry). This highlights the need for
sustainable, economically competitive substitutes to the unsustainable goods and
resources currently used, such as fossil fuels, rare earth metals, and fish stocks. It
appears the political will materializes when such substitutions are more economically
attractive or when resource stocks reach critically low levels (in the example of fish
stocks, near or total collapse). Even in the example of fish stocks, where this
conservation issue has reached crisis proportions in some areas of the world, political
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action has still been insufficient for achieving sustainability. In the example of the EU
Common Fisheries Policy, which establishes fishing-day quotas for each Member
State, only 72% of allowed EU fishing effort was deployed in 2006.4 This indicates a
lack of political will to require sustainable practices, even though the policy
framework is in place to do so. This is not promising for those nations that lack the
policy framework as well.

Because sustainable development requires long-term thinking and most likely, a


certain level of sacrifice in the present, it does not fit in the current global paradigm
seeking constant and immediate economic growth. Decision makers will have to
come to terms with this disconnect, and cease speaking simultaneously about the need
for sustainable development and yet not implementing policies that would support it.
Developing quantitative global SD goals may help politicians and civil society
understand more clearly the necessary actions.

4. Are there specific sectors or areas (e.g., water, energy, biodiversity, other) where
national political commitment to achieve sustainable development goals has been
especially strong? If so, what factors explain that commitment?

5. What examples or experiences from other areas demonstrate how political support
for critical issues was enhanced (e.g., MDGs, climate change)? How could they be
applied to SD?

Challenges

6. Looking forward to the next 10 years, what are your’s highest priorities for
accelerating progress towards sustainable development?

We consider the need to elevate new and emerging challenges on the international
political agenda on Sustainable Development. These challenges, some of which have
reached the point of crisis and will continue to do so in the future, include food,
energy, water and financing for sustainable development (e.g. 0,7% ODA,
climatefinancing, ...).

We believe that a world population rising to approximately 9 billion in the coming


decades will bring about significant pressures on all sectors of the world economy, but
specifically to agricultural systems as it becomes next to being the main provider of
food and feed, also an important provider of other services such as fuel, fibre and
flowers and even leisure. On the other hand, agriculture is also a net contributor, both
directly as indirectly to the existing challenges of climate change, biodiversity and
drought and desertification as well as driving other resource related problems.5 Food,
energy and water security are and will continue to grow as critical geopolitical
issues. Radical, systemic transitions are needed.
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Access to clean drinking water and sanitation continues to be an unmet Millennium


Development Goal. In the past year, the UNGA has recognized water as a human
right, and yet no central structure or MEA directly deals with comprehensive water
issues such as access to water, water conservation, water management and sanitation
issues, etc. Although review processes under the CSD have raised continuing
challenges and best practices related to water issues, the international community will
need to continue addressing water as a cross cutting issue in a number of MEA
contexts (UNFCCC, UNCCD, etc). Furthermore, greater efforts will need to be made
to support local initiatives and more comprehensive policies to combat water scarcity
as it accelerates with climate change and contamination issues remain prevalent
worldwide.

However, we also want to stress that in recent times there has been some growing
political attention to these issues with, for example, the Copenhagen Accord
promising some shorttrack financing for climate change, the recognition of water as a
Human Right, the recent report on food-security by the UN, as well as even
references in older documents such as the Brundtland report and the report of the
Club of Rome. However, it is paramount to devise a more integrated approach for
securing decent food, water and energy provisions for the global population in the
coming decades. Failure to do so may produce disastrous results.

7. How can international cooperation ensure support for sustainable development?


What are your expectations for UNCSD in this regard?

While, for example, the number of world leaders present at COP15 indicated an
unprecedented level of political momentum and support, we have seen only vague,
nonbinding accord emanate from it. This clearly indicates that aspects such as the
process leading up to a summit or conference and even some of the more technical
organisational details are crucial for harnessing the power of the political support
gathered in the forms of the Heads of State attending. The HLCSD should broker
renewed commitment to a holistic, global agreement on Sustainable Development. We
therefore expect heads of state and their respective ministers of finance to attend the
conference, ready to gift agreements with strong compliance mechanisms as a result
of their political commitment.

However, as argued above, we also believe that such an agreement should be


formulated with the integrated efforts of both state and non-state actors throughout the
planning process leading up to the 2012 conference, as well as at the conference itself.
The UNCSD could therefore act as a new platform for engagement of SD
stakeholders and facilitate a new paradigm of international environmental
governance, in which both state and non-state actors work to come to consensus on
key issues which affect the global population. This request for input is a good start to
such a process, but the inclusiveness of participation in planning and information
sharing must continue.
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The increased participation of non-state actors should become a new strong and
enforceable principle in national and global decision-making processes. Only then can
civil society fully assist in strengthening the political commitment as well as
contributing their knowledge, ideas and ability to assist with implementation. This can
increase both the efficacy of global-level agreements and initiatives as well as allow
non-state stakeholders to become more invested in SD efforts. In particular, as young
people we believe that we can contribute in efforts relevant to both formal and non-
formal education on sustainable living and development, as we believe that education
is crucial for achieving the abovementioned goals.

Risks

8.Among senior national policy makers in the country(ies) or region(s) of interest to


your group, would you say the predominant view of the three pillars of sustainable
development is that: ____there are difficult trade-offs among them? ____ they are
strongly complementary? Please briefly elaborate on your answer.
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Attachment C

Questionnaire on
Addressing New and Emerging Challenges

I. Introduction

Although there is no such thing as a definitive list of “new and emerging challenges”,
the following are the most significant ones:

Climate Change, as new evidence has emerged to suggest that the danger is a
more imminent one than previously thought.
Rising water scarcity and increased desertification
The unfolding of the financial crisis in developed countries, and its
transmission to other countries through financial markets as well as through
the ensuing global recession.
Halting progress, and even reversal in progress, towards MDGs despite
consistent political support.
Food crisis, caused by the rapid escalation of food prices.
Energy crisis, precipitated by the unprecedented volatility in energy prices.
Other environmental trends that had worsened more rapidly than anticipated,
including concerns that some “planetary boundaries” had been exceeded,
especially biodiversity;
Degradation of marine ecosystems
Inefficient and wasteful patterns of consumption and production; and
A succession of disasters.

All countries face these challenges, but they differ widely in their ability to cope with
the risks and shocks inherent in them. Challenges have been exacerbated in
developing countries by poverty, competition for scarce resources, the rapid pace of
rural/urban migration, and the concomitant challenges to provide food, infrastructure
and access to basic health, water and energy services.

The sustainable development challenge posed by climate change illustrates well the
importance of a holistic response from the international community.

II. Questionnaire
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Major groups and other stakeholders are invited to provide contributions and inputs
on experiences, success factors, challenges and risks pertaining to GA Resolution
64/236’s call for “Addressing new and emerging challenges” in response to the
following questions, which have been developed based on the discussions that took
place at the first Prepcom.

Experiences

1. What five new and emerging challenges are likely to affect most significantly the
prospects for sustainable development in the coming decade? Please rank in order
of importance.

We consider the need to elevate new and emerging challenges on the international
political agenda on Sustainable Development. These challenges, some of which have
reached the point of crisis and will continue to do so in the future, include food,
energy, water and financing for sustainable development (e.g. 0,7% ODA,
climatefinancing, ...).

We believe that a world population rising to approximately 9 billion in the coming


decades will bring about significant pressures on all sectors of the world economy, but
specifically to agricultural systems as it becomes next to being the main provider of
food and feed, also an important provider of other services such as fuel, fibre and
flowers and even leisure. On the other hand, agriculture is also a net contributor, both
directly as indirectly to the existing challenges of climate change, biodiversity and
drought and desertification as well as driving other resource related problems. Food,
energy and water security are and will continue to grow as critical geopolitical
issues.

Access to clean drinking water and sanitation continues to be an unmet Millennium


Development Goal. In the past year, the UNGA has recognized water as a human
right, and yet no central structure or MEA directly deals with comprehensive water
issues such as access to water, water conservation, water management and sanitation
issues, etc. Although review processes under the CSD have raised continuing
challenges and best practices related to water issues, the international community will
need to continue addressing water as a cross cutting issue in a number of MEA
contexts (UNFCCC, UNCCD, etc).

2. What mechanisms have been put in place in the country(ies) or region(s) of


interest to your group to address these challenges: At the local level? At the
national level?

3. In which of these areas has support from the international community been
forthcoming? In what areas is new or enhanced international support needed?
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On recent times there has been some growing political attention to these issues with,
for example, the Copenhagen Accord promising some shorttrack financing for climate
change, the recognition of water as a Human Right, the recent report on food-security
by the UN, as well as even references in older documents such as the Brundtland
report and the report of the Club of Rome. However, it is paramount to devise a more
integrated approach for securing decent food, water and energy provisions for the
global population in the coming decades. Failure to do so may produce disastrous
results.

As mentioned above, the new and emerging challenges are closely related to the
already identified challenges. As specified in the 3 Rio conventions, tackling climate
change, biodiversity loss, drought and desertification are priorities. These challenges
to sustainable development are not new, but one could hardly argue that we have fully
tackled these challenges. Especially when combined with recent global crises, and the
new and emerging challenges, it is clear that a more holistic approach is needed in
order to avoid compromising a decent life for young and future generations. We think
that there are a set of common issues, as well as a common solutions (e.g. a joint
REDD+ facility) that would integrate existing and new concerns. Also, we believe it
is crucial to underpin new dimensions to the already identified challenges, for
example the link between Climate Change and Security.

4. What new and emerging challenges should be acted upon at UNCSD?

Next to the above-mentioned issues (e.g. food, energy and water) we believe that
tackling the new and emerging challenges, as well as those already identified, can be
done in several ways, and even provide a basis for further deepening and legitimising
current strategies for reducing injustices and inequities. We want to underline that the
current instruments within the field of Sustainable Development contain balanced
language aiming to reconcile environmental integrity and the right to development.

However, it is insufficient to consider the principle of “common but differentiated


responsibilities” only from a spatial perspective, thereby failing to account for
intergenerational justice and equity. We believe that we should strengthen both the
norms of spatial and temporal justice and equity on the international level. With
regards to the temporal justice, we clearly see that
young and future generations have few legal norms to enforce accountability to them.
We specifically want to see the HLCSD establish a higher political profile for young
and future generations in three dimensions:
1) Conserving options for young and future generations;
2) Conserving quality for young and future generations; and
3) Conserving access for young and future generations.
Only by establishing these norms at the international level, as well as engaging young
stakeholders and utilising their knowledge and ideas in the process of establishing
such norms, can both intertemporal and global equity be appropriately incorporated
into SD goals.
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Also the identified challenges identified at Rio in 1992 need some attention. Climate
change is likely to impact many facets of the global environment and will affect
efforts to implement sustainable practices, namely by changing the limits to certain
economic activities. For example, a changing climate will mean that various species
already at risk from habitat loss due to anthropogenic sprawl will become more
vulnerable, increasing the need for even more stringent efforts to protect biodiversity.
It will also impact fresh water resources, and therefore agricultural systems, as well as
creating potential for large-scale immigration and new stresses on resources in areas
of changing population dynamics.

Therefore, addressing climate change would be a priority for integrating progress


towards multiple sustainable development goals, though it would only address more
longterm challenges. Sub-priorities for addressing climate change include:
1) A global price on greenhouse gas emissions;
2) Establishing steady, sufficient flow of technical and financial aid to developing
countries, facilitating a transition to low-carbon economies which meet more than
basic human needs; and
3) Countries establishing and/or meeting their energy efficiency, renewable energy
and GHG emissions reduction quotas.

Efforts will also be needed to address the most pressing environmental concerns,
which are further exacerbated by climate change.
Halting the loss of global biodiversity will require concentrated efforts above and
beyond simply reducing the rate of climate change. More near term priorities include:
1) Establishing integrated ecosystem management to creates structures for addressing
competing needs of various stakeholders;
2) Radically rethinking conservation strategies, which must be based more on
building resilience and capacity for adaptation in ecosystems (e.g. mobile protected
areas, protection of migratory corridors);
3) Reducing the spread of invasive species by developing multilateral policies and
monitoring programs.

The HLCSD can generate renewed commitment to a global agreement on GHG


reductions within the UNFCCC as a cornerstone of the actions needed for SD. We
expect heads of state to attend the conference, having already agreed on a global
climate deal at the UNFCCC COP17, and ready to sign an agreement that they will
fulfill their duties to address climate change as well as additional pressing
environmental challenges (highlighted specifically in the agreement document).

Such a document could be formulated with the integrated efforts of both state and
nonstate actors throughout the planning process leading up to the 2012 conference.
The HLCSD could therefore act as a new platform for engagement of SD stakeholders
and facilitate a new paradigm of international environmental governance, in which
both state and non-state actors work to come to consensus on key issues which affect
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the global population. This request for input is a good start to such a process, but the
inclusiveness
of participation in planning and information sharing must continue.

Success Factors

5. What factors explain the successful ability to address new and emerging
challenges?
adequate financial resources
strong government leadership
investment in essential infrastructure
dedicated government programmes
literacy and awareness among the population
effective communication systems
availability of data and technical capacity
speed and adequacy of international support
leadership by international organizations
south-south cooperation
regional cooperation

6. What steps have been taken or are under consideration in the country(ies) or
region(s) of interest to your group to enhance these success factors?

Challenges

7. How can the link between science, education, and policy be strengthened to
address the new and emerging challenges, especially those identified above?

Education and especially education for sustainable development is crucial in


achieving lifestyle- and behavioural changes. Therefore, sustainable development
should be integrated in all study curricula, at all levels, whether primary, secondary,
vocational or tertiary. People with different interests and skill sets have their
differentiated role to play in ensuring true sustainable development takes place.
Without empowering all individuals, especially young people, we cannot mobilize the
boundless human capital that can potentially bring about significant, positive change
to the unsustainable status quo.

Furthermore, non-formal learning, especially by youth-led organisations, should be


stimulated and recognised as a valuable tool for SD education.
In addition, forums, discussions, debates and public consultations on sustainability
issues must be utilised to allow different stakeholders to voice their opinions and
introduce perspectives that may translate to concrete policy actions. There must be an
active citizen and civil society participation in policy creation as it is the job of
governments to represent these viewpoints.
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With regards to science and policy, a stronger science-policy interface definitely has
to be forged. Decision-making by political leaders must be increasingly influenced by
what scientific research indicates is necessary. Governments must also encourage the
development of technological innovations and research without the tainting of special
interest groups.

Young people should be included at all levels of the decision-making processes


related to climate policy and other aspects of SD, such as the National Sustainable
Development Councils. The meaningful involvement of young people in decision-
making can increase support for and implementation of any education, training and
public awareness strategy.

8. How can international support be harnessed effectively to address these


challenges?

Participation is a key issue for Youth and Children, as children


and young people comprise easily half of the world population. Reminiscent of the
charter of the United Nations, which references “we, the peoples of the United
Nations” rather than discussing nation-states, the final report on the World
Commission on Environment and Development, foresees a “political system that
secures effective citizen participation in decision making”.

From the perspective of civil society, one could say that the glass is half full or half
empty. Great steps forward have been made, with civil society participation, and
youth participation in particular, being politically recognised in Agenda 21.
Furthermore, the institutions concerned with Sustainable Development, especially in
the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the three Rio Conventions,
have expressed concern over their ability to more effectively engage civil society,
though there appears to be inconsistent and insufficient progress in this direction.

We believe stakeholder engagement could be enhanced through participation of


civil society representatives within the decision making structures dealing with
climate change, biodiversity, desertification, and other international
environmental agreements. Recalling that participation is a prerequisite for
sustainable development, we can only note that other experiences across the UN
system such as the policy bureau of UNAIDS, the Office of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) have all included
civil society representatives in their respective bureaux.

Regarding youth participation, we want to draw attention to two specific practices.


Firstly, in the youth sector of the Council of Europe, representatives of youth civil
society and representatives of government enter into co-management.# They both
participate in decision making via consensus, an example of this regional organisation
making decisions that concern us, together with us. Another example of participation
are the official youth delegates across the UN system. Because official youth
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delegates are integrated in their official delegations, they are a powerful means for
enhancing youth-participation.

Stakeholders, including young people, must be included at all levels of decision


making processes related to Sustainable Development policy. The meaningful
involvement of young people in decision making is crucial for the quality, legitimacy
and credibility of the system. Unfortunately, this development has not been seen
within the field of Sustainable Development. While we acknowledge the efforts being
made to codify such norms at the regional level with the Aarhus convention, the
recent example of civil society participation at the UNFCCC COP15 as well as the
lack of diversity of youth currently engaged in the SD decision making process
indicates the need for stronger and more tangible action in this area, such as
committing additional resources to the UN CSD trust fund in order to strengthen
participation from the Global South.

Risks

9. Do the new and emerging challenges pose a fundamental risk to the prospects of
economic growth and development in the country(ies) or region(s) of interest to
your group?

10. How can the risks to the poor and other vulnerable populations be addressed?
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Attachment E

Questionnaire on
Institutional framework for sustainable development

I. Introduction

Institutional support for sustainable development works horizontally across different


domains, agencies, ministries, functional groups, and countries, while the traditional
organization of authority and action is vertical, precisely along the lines of the same
agencies and ministries and other specialities. So, the challenge is to identify
institutional elements that can facilitate integration, on a continued basis, across
existing lines of authority and programme structures, without undermining or
displacing them.
At the international level, UNCED led to the establishment of three main institutional
structures to pursue sustainable development, namely the Commission on Sustainable
Development (CSD) for political leadership, the Inter-Agency Coordination on
Sustainable Development (IACSD) for coordination within the UN system, and the
High Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development (HLB) for intellectual
guidance. CSD remains the principal policy making institution on sustainable
development within the UN system, but the other two structures were discontinued.
Since Rio, many UN bodies and international organizations have aligned their work
with the principles of sustainable development, which is referred to in the 2005 World
Summit Outcome (GA Resolution A/RES/06/1) as “a key element of the overarching
framework of United Nations activities”.

At national levels, early innovations include national sustainable development


councils (NSDC), and integrated strategies. The experience with NSDCs needs to be
assessed to identify lessons of success as well as failure. The process of developing
integrated strategies has taken root, including in the form of national sustainable
development strategies (NSDS), but there is a need to review this experience to assess
how best the goal of integration can be advanced, and in particular whether the
existence of several competing strategy processes (e.g., PRSP, development plan,
national conservation strategy) can undermine the very goal of integration.

At local levels, Local Agendas 21 were developed by local institutions and urban
municipalities, and again there is a need to draw lessons from this experience.

II. Questionnaire

Major groups and other stakeholders are invited to provide contributions and inputs
on experiences, success factors, challenges and risks pertaining to the UNCSD theme
“Institutional framework for sustainable development” in response to the following
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questions, which have been developed based on the discussions that took place at the
first Prepcom.

Experiences

1. Various changes in the global institutional framework for sustainable development


have been discussed. What is the importance of the following avenues for reform?

 Strengthen existing institutions


 Merge institutions
 Improve coordination among existing institutions
 Establish new institutions
 Change mandate(s) of institution(s)
 Streamline institutions

Kindly explain your choices, indicating what concrete measures could be


considered in this regard.

Sustainable Development as a holistic concept has been defined to encompass the


three dimensions of social, environmental, and economic issues, and yet UN
institutions remain isolated across these lines and lack in comprehensive dialogue and
collaboration. Whether new institutions are created or existing ones are revamped, it
is clear that in order to achieve SD they will need to bring together a diverse range of
non-state actors and
governments and address economic, social, and environmental issues in a holistic and
interconnected way. Concretely this suggests that given the nature of the complexity
and interrelated issues that are part of sustainable development, SD should be better
integrated into the heart of the UN work.

Existing institutions such as UNEP, be strengthened in their mandate to work more


closely in implementation and bring together a wide range of stakeholders and NGOs
to partner in achieving SD policy goals. UNEP should function as a facilitator
between international policies and local implementation by partnering with NGOs,
local organizations, and municipalities to provide capacity building, information, and
work with these local entities to help best achieve SD policies at the local level.

We support better integration of civil society and stakeholders into the institutional
framework and decision making process as one way to better support implementation
of SD policies. A reoccurring challenge of SD is the gap between international policy
making and local level implementation. In order to address this, there must be
increased capacity building and investment from a broader range of civil society
actors that can help governments implement these policies. UNEP and other central
SD institutions should also work closely with all Major Groups to help implement
policies. Stakeholders often have a strong local connection and knowledge that can be
essential in bringing international policies and translating them to on the ground
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action in various communities, but stakeholders need to be supported by institutions


with funding and programs, as well as incorporated into decision-making processes so
there is knowledge and investment to bring policies back.

Ideally the HLCSD will take many of recommendations from member states,
international institutions and civil society to strengthen governance around SD. It is
clear that UNEP’s role needs to be reconsidered as well as the way civil society can
positively contribute to the decision making process and be partners in implementing
policies. The greatest risk at the HLCSD in relation to governance would be if the
process failed to be a model of good governance itself and didn’t include diverse
voices and those of civil society. So far, we have been encouraged by the Secretariats
efforts in preparation to ensure meaningful input that includes civil society. We are
hopeful for a meaningful and substantial revision of international environmental
governance at the HLCSD in Rio.

2. How can the institutional framework ensure effective synergies between the CSD
and other existing inter-governmental instruments and processes, including
different multilateral agreements, UN programmes and funds, and regional
processes?

We would like to see the UNGA take a more prominent role in dealing with SD and
perhaps UNCSD be moved as a UNGA commission rather than commission under the
ECOSOC. As the UNCSD has a broad and far-reaching mandate to oversee the
implementation of the Agenda 21, it’s current place of as a functional ECOSOC
commission seems to contrast
with the high-profile leadership role it’s mandate requests. Upgrading it’s lower status
in the international institutional hierarchy, is paramount.

3. How can the institutional framework ensure effective coordination among


different agencies and organizations responsible for aspects of sustainable
development?

We believe that the Conventions should continue to promote dialogue through the
Environmental Management Group and the Joint-Liaison Group on the interconnected
issues that are currently separated and discussed in separate forums, such as
UNFCCC, UNCCD, CBD, etc. The Environmental Management Group and the Joint-
Liaison Group could also be strengthened in its work by involving non-state actors
that are implementing relevant policies. Non-state actors could share in best practices
and provide insight for how policies in these different forums can better work together
to achieve SD on the ground.

The most significant challenges for Environmental Management Group is finding


ways to work together and collaborate on an issue that falls across so many different
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areas and UN entities. In some ways creating a strong central structure would at least
allow for clear leadership on who should facilitate this collaboration process, but it
will nonetheless be essential to work with other UN agencies, civil society, and
convention structures across all three dimensions of SD. Another challenge for
international institutions is that they must remain in the international sphere and yet
they must strive to work closely with national and local organization to ensure
meaningful implementation that is not necessarily the same model for all
communities, but brings together local knowledge to implement SD in the community
and country. Therefore international institutions cannot always provide top-down
support and funding, but should work with local organizations to understand the
context and how to best achieve SD goals within the community.

Another pathway is to harmonise the international agenda on Sustainable


Development with the international framework on Development Cooperation. As
Sustainable Development contains a lot of language on the “right for development” it
would make sense to make more concrete institutional arrangements with e.g. the
MDGs, the Accra Agenda for Action and the Paris Declaration. The HLCSD could
become a key moment in elaborating a post 2015 framework for development,
eventually formulating the successor of the MDGs, the Sustainable Development
Goals.

4. Do(es) the country(ies) of interest to your group have an active national


sustainable development council (NSDC) in place? Yes/No. Do you think an
active NSDC could facilitate national preparations for UNCSD? If so, how?

5. In your assessment, how effective have national sustainable development


strategies (NSDS) been in promoting integrated decision making?

6. Has your group been actively involved in developing and/or implementing local
agendas 21? If so, where?

7. In the country(ies) of interest to your group, what role have sub-national and local
sustainable development councils played in implementing sustainable
development since Rio? What role has your group played in such councils?

Although Agenda 21 has paved the way for stakeholder representation, youth
especially still face underrepresentation in NSDCs. For example, the Belgian NSDC
only has the National Youth Councils as an observer, while other Agenda 21 groups
such as Business and Trade Unions are full members. There is clearly a need to renew
commitment in these processes to integrating Agenda 21 groups, especially youth.
Also because of the transient nature of youth and the lack of funding in many cases,
more of a proactive effort may need to be made from governments to ensure diverse
and meaningful youth representation within NSDCs and other processes.
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National organizations need to be given the knowledge and support to understand and
implement SD policies from the international level. Some of their biggest challenges
can be financial support and capacity-building to help implement policies and access
to information on international policies and how they may fit in with domestic based
work. It would make sense to facilitate the sharing of learning-mistakes and best-
practices among states.

8. Since the UNCED (Rio) in 1992, has the participation of major groups and other
relevant stakeholders in national decision-making processes on sustainable
development significantly increased? Yes/No. Please indicate which of the
following forms of engagement of major groups in decision making are
commonly used in the country(ies) or region(s) of interest to your group (ranking
in order of importance with 1 equal most important):
participation in policy development
public hearings
partnerships
scientific panels
inclusion in international delegations
multi-stakeholder consultations for international meetings

9. Name the governments with which your group has had the closest collaboration.
For each, briefly describe the main features of the collaboration.

Success Factors

10. Are there examples, whether in the sustainable development domain or in related
policy domains (e.g., MDGs, other), where an effective institutional framework
has contributed to significant positive outcomes at national level? international
level?

More specifically, one successful framework model to consider is the Carpathian


Convention reuniting all countries around the Carpathes. The Carpathian Convention
aims to act as a transnational framework for cooperation and multi-sectoral policy and
coordination, a platform for joint strategies for sustainable development and a forum
for dialogue between all stakeholders.

1) The model transcends drawn borders of states or counties and instead bring
together actors around an ecological issue. An international framework will ultimately
need to support implementation and collaboration with actors across national/local
levels and state boundaries.

2) It provides a model for how larger policies can be coupled with action on a more
local scale to ensure meaningful implementation.
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11. How can the lessons from such successes be used to enhance the effectiveness of
the institutional framework for sustainable development? Are the lessons relevant
to the Commission on Sustainable Development?

12. How can the lessons from such successes be used to enhance the effectiveness of
international environmental governance/policy guidance?

13. What in your experience have been the most effective means of strengthening
major groups’ and other stakeholder’s participation in national sustainable
development efforts?

Of particular importance to assist in the implementation of all these strategies is to


increase participation of non-state actors in national and global decision-making
processes, thereby maximising the use of their knowledge, ideas and ability to assist
with implementation. This can increase both the efficacy of global-level agreements
and initiatives as well as allow non-state stakeholders to become more invested in SD
efforts.

With the adoption of Agenda 21, UN–sponsored conferences have increasingly tended
to promote broader public participation. The CSD has adopted the principle of multi–
stakeholder dialogues. These provide a forum in which different groups with diverse
interests can interact with one another to establish common ground, thus contributing
to building trust between all parties as well as between governments. Within
international environmental institutions, the range of NGO involvement has been
extended—from the agenda setting stage to the decision making stage. A positive
move forward would be to ensure that any reforms within the international
environmental governance system adhere to good governance principles such as those
in the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision
Making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. However, as this convention
is only regional in scope, and bearing in mind CSO-participation at the recent
UNFCCC COP15, we would call for the HLCSD to critically improve and strengthen
the participation of Civil Society in International Sustainable Development
governance.

Challenges

14. What are the most significant challenges facing international institutions charged
with promoting sustainable development?
There is a clear lack of enforcement and dispute settlement to corner an effective
International Governance for Sustainable Development. MRV between the different
MEAs varies and does not seem to be as effective as e.g. WTO dispute settlement.

We would propose considering giving the International Court of Justice compulsory


jurisdiction on matters concerning sustainable development such as climate change
and the needs and interests of future generations. Learning from the GATT panel
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dispute resolution system, we would urge to, pursuant article 22 of the UN Charter, to
establish an judicial body that would have the power to refer cases to the International
Court of Justice. Another option would be to expand the mandate of the UN Security
Council, broadening the exercise of it’s mandate by including environmental issues
and their security related issues within it’s activities.

15. What are the most significant challenges facing national institutions charged with
promoting sustainable development in the country(ies) of interest to your group?

Risks

16. What decisions should UNCSD aim to reach on the institutional framework for
sustainable development? What are the main risks threatening a successful
UNCSD outcome on the institutional framework?