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Initial Discussions on the “Zero Draft” of the Outcome Document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012
A three-day round of initial negotiations over the proposed (zero draft) outcome document for Rio +20 entitled “The Future we Want” was concluded at the UN Headquarters in New York on 27 January 2012. Member States, United Nations agencies and a variety of civil society actors participated in the first informal round of negotiations, which will be followed by three more negotiating sessions in March, April/May and June in the lead-up to Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Brazil on 20-22 June this year.

Prior to the January discussions, written comments were submitted by the delegations on the first two sections of the zero draft (the Preamble/Stage Setting and Renewing Political Commitment ) and, as a result, the first round of negotiations revolved around these sections. The submission of written comments on the remaining sections (Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, and Framework for Action and Follow-Up) was concluded on 29 February 2012. The Secretariat is in the process of developing a compilation document from these comments, which will be used during the first informal-informal negotiations on the draft outcome document, scheduled from 19 to 23 March 2012. 

As emphasised by Rio+20 Secretary-General Sha Zukang, the main outcomes of this initial round of negotiations, were the following:
  • The fact that the zero draft was accepted as a starting point for negotiations and the delegates have begun negotiations was “encouraging”. It is in the hands of governments to make the draft ambitious and action-oriented, and ensure accountability.
  • The realization that the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) could be one of the most important contributions of Rio +20, provided that they would be defined with a clear timeframe and would give clear direction to build green economies appropriate to national circumstances. The SDGs could help guide a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The emerged contradicting arguments concerning the relation and possible interconnection between the SDGs and the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals ) require further clarification and a robust framework for action for the SDGs.
  • There was a call for putting in place a strengthened institutional framework, followed by a request for further guidance on the options.

Source: IISD Reporting Services, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), Zero Draft: The Future We Want
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