Between January 25 and 27, the initial discussions on the zero draft of “The Future we Want,” the intended outcome document for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development UNCSD Rio + 20, took place in New York. Approximately 100 delegates were invited to work on far-reaching, but practical outcomes consistent with current and future challenges to environmental governance and the demand for stronger international political commitments.
Representatives from member states, UN agencies and organizations, and major civil society groups offered their comments on the zero draft. Many countries called for a more balanced, ambitious, and action-oriented outcome, using the current text as the basis of the negotiations. Different organizations proposed specific strategies to guarantee the objectives of the UNCSD. UNEP, for example, suggested consolidating various frameworks for action in the zero draft into a single section, while UNDP urged for stronger commitments on energy and a more comprehensive approach for empowering women and girls.
Even though the sections on the main topics of the Rio + 20 conference, the Green Economy and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, will be analyzed later in March, it is clear that some of the specific proposals presented within these topics by some countries are starting to take shape. This is the case of the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs approach presented by the governments of Colombia and Guatemala.
The nature of the zero draft is to offer a departure point for the negotiations. Therefore, the fundamental challenges still lay ahead. To achieve a reconciliation between ambitious goals and political commitments will be a fundamental factor for the successful outcome of the summit. Additionally, a clear balance between the three pillars: environment, economy and sustainable development will need to be addressed and reconciled in Rio if the efforts to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication are to be successful.
The zero draft discussion will continue with the first round of ‘informal-informal’ negotiations on the zero draft of outcome document, and will take place in New York between March 19 and 23.
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