One Year After Rio+20 UN Moves Ahead on New Sustainable Development Goals

4526_image001With this month marking the first anniversary of the 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, the United Nations is moving into high gear to frame new global economic, social and environmental goals – and a high-level political body to administer them.

“Rio+20 may have been criticized as more sound than substance, but its outcomes are now taking shape, and look to be influential for both governments and the private sector,” according to Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and environment.

”USCIB has followed the first steps to put Rio+20 deliverables into motion throughout the UN system,” Kennedy said. “We are assessing the opportunities and risks for business, and mapping a strategy to provide constructive input to the discussions from the start.”

At the Rio+20 Summit, governments agreed to develop Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the purpose of addressing poverty eradication, environmental protection, and sustainable consumption and production. The SDGs will likely drive and set the tone for international policy on these issues over the next decade. They will also shape the expectations that stakeholders and investors have for business on these issues. Initial SDG discussions in the UN have already raised business issues, such as mandatory integrated sustainability reporting, and the importance of good governance and enabling frameworks for investment, enterprise creation and job growth.

Speaking at a recent U.N. meeting of governments on the SDGs, Adam Greene, USCIB’s vice president for  labor affairs, corporate responsibility and governance,underscored the necessity for conditions that support job creation by the private sector, and economic growth. “Employment and inclusive growth cannot and will not happen in the absence of a conducive environment for economic growth at the national level,” he said. “Global goals are useful, but we must recognize that all the key drivers for development take place within a national context and must be implemented through national institutions.” (Click here to read the full statement.)

The SDGs will be a central element of the UN-wide Post-2015 Development Agenda, which will build on and go beyond the UN Millennium Development Goals (Click here to read a recent column from USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson on this process.). While it is not clear how the SDGs will relate to the MDGs, we expect that they will differ in at least three key aspects:

  • they will apply to all UN member countries, rather than just to developing countries;
  • they will cover a broader range of economic, social, environmental and governance issues; and
  • they may also include targets addressed to business and other stakeholder groups.

USCIB will be tracking these complex – and often confusing – discussions to their conclusion over the next year and has established a cross-cutting Working Group on the SDGs to develop USCIB positions and represent business views in the UN negotiations.

Staff contacts: Norine Kennedy and Adam Greene

More on USCIB’s Environment Committee

More on USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility Committee

More on the Green Economies Dialogue

Staff Contact:   Norine Kennedy

VP, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment
Tel: 212.703.5052

Norine Kennedy promotes U.S. business participation in international environmental policy and management initiatives, and works closely with industry, government and NGOs to promote sustainable development and green growth. She also spearheads USCIB’s strategic international engagement initiative, which seeks to advance meaningful business participation and regulatory diplomacy in inter-governmental organizations.
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