UNESCO: We must not miss the opportunity of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development to set a new agenda for a sustainable 21st century. In Rio, we must see where we stand, cast a cold eye on our successes and failures and draw a new road map for the future.
We are not starting from scratch. The principles we crafted in Agenda 21 at the Earth Summit twenty years ago in Rio remain salient. The context has changed. New challenges have emerged, along with new risks. These include increasing social disparities and inequity, population growth, climate change, the deterioration and pollution of the environment, the unsustainable use of freshwater and depletion of ocean resources, as well as increasing cases of natural and human-made disasters.
The poorest, most marginalised and vulnerable communities are hit hardest. They also suffer the most from a global crisis that has financial, energy, food and environmental dimensions. All of this has thrown into doubt the viability of current models of development.
We need a new way forward
We need an approach to development that starts with individual dignity, that is centred on human growth, and that provides convincing answers to the complex social, economic and environmental questions we face. We need new indicators to guide us and new measurements of progress. Sustainable growth must be inclusive, it must be socially equitable, and it must protect our ecosystems and climate. The mantra of grow today, clean up laterf can no longer stand . for developed or developing countries. The
time when we could put off difficult choices is over. There are no more shortcuts.
We must build inclusive, green societies and economies by investing in human development and social capital. New challenges require innovative solutions, which must harness also indigenous knowledge for sustainable development. These will be born from new ways of thinking and attitudes by people of all ages and from all walks of life.
No society can afford to leave anyone aside. Green societies must allow women and men to contribute equally in leading and building a more sustainable future. We need a change of culture to tackle climate change. UNESCO will bring to Rio+20 a vision for sustainable
development that makes the most of the trans formative power of education, the sciences, culture and media.
A green future must be blue
Our ocean and its resources are deteriorating and depleting. Our ocean makes the earth habitable for people. With marine and coastal resources and industries representing more than 5% of global GDP, our ocean also provides significant social and economic benefits and plays an important role in poverty alleviation. To mitigate the rapid degradation of our ocean, Rio+20 must lay out a new vision for the governance of our ocean.
About 80 percent of the world’s population lives today in areas lacking water security. By 2025, an estimated 60 percent of the world’s population will live in water-stressed conditions, and a similar proportion will be without adequate sanitation. Rio +20 must provide new momentum to manage better the world’s freshwater resources.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during June 2012, offers an extraordinary and unique opportunity to reset the world on a sustainable development path.
Despite substantial improvements over the past 20 years in many key areas of sustainable development, the world is not on track to achieve the goals as aspired to in Agenda 21, adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and reiterated in subsequent world conferences, such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002.
While there have been some achievements in implementing Agenda 21, including the implementation of the chapters on “Science for Sustainable Development” and on “Promoting Education, Public Awareness & Training”, for which UNESCO was designated as the lead agency, much still remains to be done.
Increasing disparities, inequalities and social inequity, growing deterioration of the environment and resources, as well as concurrent energy, food and financial crises, reflect the inadequacy of the world’s current development paradigm. No development model which leaves a billion people in hunger, poverty and socially excluded will be sustainable.
Rio+20 must underpin a broader, longer-term process of redressing imbalances, a rethinking of priorities, and the necessary institutional reforms to bring about coherence in economic, environmental and social policies, which benefits all members of society.
Charting the way forward in a sustainable manner must start by recognizing that the world has changed in fundamental ways, with shifts in demographic growth, resource consumption, production patterns, climate change, and increasing natural and human-induced disasters. There has been much technological progress, from renewable energy to new vehicles for social dialogue, such as social media. Achievements have been made in attaining a number of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) goals. All of this has profound implications for UNESCO and its activities.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>