So I thought I might give a more thorough explanation to what it actually is that we from Spire work with here at Rio+20. A lot of the things concerning Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) are quite technical and it’s nice to get some insight into the UN system so as to understand what it is we’re talking about.
Firstly: The UNEP/UNEO-discussion.
There is a general agreement about the fact that the Environmental pillar in Sustainable development hasn’t been strong enough until now. So therefor the negotiationg parties is “agreeing” on a “strengthening” og UN Environment Programme. As it is now, the programme is quite small with a very little budget, not even near being able to tackle the environmental difficulties we want it to. However, the manner of this strengthening is a point of disagreement. While the best thing would be to make UNEP into a so-called specialized agency within the UN (like an organization focusing on a special area such as the WHO and UN Women), to be called UNEO, some countries and the US in particular is blocking an upgrade of this scale under the excuse that it is too expencive and would add to beuraucracy (the unofficial version being that Americans are hopelessly lagging behind in environmental counsciousness and are afraid to do anything in an election year). So they are preferring to just strengthen UNEP instead within its excisting mandate, whatever that may entail. The EU is especially unpleased with this, as a UNEO is a big thing for them. Same with Norway and some African countries.
The discussion on a Sustainable Development Council / High Level Forum
Several countries have shown a genuine interest in making Sustainable Development politics within the UN stronger, more coherent and streamlined. Therefore, the establishment of an SD council has been discussed. As of now, the body for Sustainable Development in the UN is the Commission on SD under the Economic and Social Committe (ECOSOC). It is a common view that the CSD is not as functional or effective as one would like, much to the fact that ECOSOC as an overarching institution has been watered down the last decades in terms of political strength. So, it has been a beig deal especially for Norway and the EU to establish a new and stronger institution outside of ECOSOC, under the General Assembly (such as the Human Rights Council). It now looks as if the Commission on SD is only changing superficially and is still placed within ECOSOC. The new name will be a High Level Forum with universal membership. It is not really very clear how this will work to ensure coherence in the SD politics, and not either how it will make sure that the environmental pillar is strengthened, as environment is not a relevant thing for ECOSOC. Needless to say, a lot of people is not pleased.
Ombudsperson/High level rep/High Commissioner for future generations
The idea with the Ombudsperson was to create an institution that has special responsibility to ensure a long term perspective in all politics. The future generations is to provide SD with a reckognizable face. As we in Spire suggests it, the High Commissioner should be placed under the SD council (that is not going to be), answering to the General Assembly. The High Commissioner would be a independent body that would work on SD coherence and put things in the interests of future generations on the agenda. As the text is right now, the G77 has blocked the High Commisioner and turned it into a voluntary report instead. The paragraph is as follows:
“We invite the SG to promote intergenerational dialogue and solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development, taking into account the needs of future generations, including by inviting the SG to provide a report in this regard.”
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all very unhappy with this, except for a couple of countries within the G77. Our only hope now for reviving the High Commissioner is if the text is negotiated at the High Level segment. As for now, it’s not good to know wether or not this will happen, because a lot of countries said they were more or less ok with the closed text as it is now. However, we know that for a lot of countries this is not really true. So it will be exciting to see what happens the next days.
For more updates on Rio in both English and Norwegian, read our Spireblog. I also recommend this blog which adds to our blogs from the perspective of Major Group for Children and youth. And, for Norwegians, also follow our friends from Changemaker on their blog.
Lastly, some pics from the last days: