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policy briefs on sustainable development
policy briefs on sustainable development
INTRODUCTION As youth, we will inherit a world shaped by the outcomes of Rio+20. Over the past century, we have consistently seen the needs of future generations neglected while ecosystems are abused and the people who depend on them are disregarded. This must end at Rio+20. Global economic and ecological crises are no longer distant possibilities; they are an immediate reality that requires bold collective action by the world's governments—something we have yet to see. Rio+20 is an opportunity to safeguard our future planet, but the current character of negotiations will not accomplish this. Not only are they progressing slowly, but incredibly important issues are consistently being watered down or completely ignored. We call for a Rio+20 outcome that ensures bold and immediate action to protect the right of future generations to lead meaningful, dignified and healthy lives. We have drafted a number of policy suggestions based on the ongoing negotiations and call on Member States and the Secretariat to consider these proposals, while recognizing Rio's potential to become a global turning point. GUIDING PRINCIPLES A robust Rio+20 outcome must: 1. Protect future generations and the most marginalized. 2. Build on, rather than reiterate, past agreements. 3. Have an accountability framework to ensure concrete action. 4. Employ the precautionary principle, especially in relation to planetary boundaries. 5. Support the "polluter pays" principle by employing true cost accounting. 6. Be human rights based. 7. Respect gender equality. 8. Support peace and nonviolence. 9. Be based on common but differentiated responsibility, while considering countries’ respective capabilities. 10. Employ a participatory approach to governance structures and policies. Each of these principles is an integral part of sustainable development and cannot be ignored. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CONTRIBUTORS Marisol Becerra, Rebecca Chan, Sarah Dayringer, Matt Maiorana, Olimar Maisonet-Guzmán, Hudson McFann, Emily Nosse-Leirer, Sarah Pendergast, Mike Sandmel, Sameera Savarala, Sophia Sennett May 2012 © SustainUS. All Rights Reserved. SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development www.sustainus.org
sexual and reproductive rights
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), global population is currently 7 billion and is projected to rise to 9 billion by the end of the century. The need to be conscious of the carrying capacity of the planet will play a fundamental role in all future work for poverty eradication and protection of the environment. Evidence presented by the UNFPA shows that human rights based approaches are effective in changing demographic trends. As shown in a 2010 report by Susheela Singh et development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should...promote appropriate demographic policies.” The Fifth Millenium Development Goal aims to “achieve universal access to reproductive health” by 2015. The UN International Conference on Population and Development, held in 1994, recognized the “basic right” of women and their partners to choose “the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means...to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health” (ICPD Program of Action, para 7.3). The 21st century is the time to finally make family planning methods and education about them easily available and acceptable, not only for the sake of women, but for the sake of all people today and in the future. SustainUS therefore calls for the inclusion of text promoting reproductive and sexual health and rights in the Rio+20 Outcome Document. As young people, we recognize the fundamental importance that women’s rights will have on our future world. Although the negotiating text regarding sexual and reproductive rights have improved dramatically since the 2nd Intersessional Meeting, there is still resistance from key groups and Member States. Those states who are actively opposing any and all language proposing sexual and reproductive health, are adopting a position we see as antithetical to the very concept of sustainable development. We urge all Member States and organizations of the United Nations to support text that recognizes these fundamental rights for women and for the benefit of all people. ■ ___________________________________________________
al., published in Studies in Family Planning, a full 41% of pregnancies worldwide are unintended. Availability and easy access to family planning methods slow population growth, reduce stress on the environment, and decrease poverty. Consequently, the impacts of reproductive rights and health extend far beyond women. Omitting safeguards for demographic policies supporting women’s right to choose the number, timing and spacing of their pregnancies compromises the realization of all other sustainable development objectives. All issues of women's empowerment, including education and inclusion in the workforce, are enabled in large part by these choices. Given the impact of childbearing and childrearing on a woman’s life, we believe that a woman’s fundamental human right to self-determination includes the right to choose the timing and spacing of pregnancies, and that a woman who cannot easily control her childbearing will not be able to easily control other aspects of her life. Access to family planning methods can help lift families out of poverty and provide better futures for their children, including better nutrition and education. The link between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive rights and sustainable development has been noted in numerous other international agreements. Rio Principle 8 emphasizes that “to achieve sustainable
peace and conflict
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ At the First Round of Informal-Informal Negotiations and 3rd Intersessional Meeting, some Member States proposed expanding the negotiating text's section on disasters to address both natural and manmade disasters, including armed conflict. The relationship between disasters and conflicts is indeed widely recognized, with their effects often addressed in tandem, including by UNEP. Specifically, and consistent with Rio Principle 25, states have proposed text emphasizing the need to address the interlinkages among security, development and environment. This proposal is an important step toward integrating a focus on peace and conflict into the Rio+20 Outcome Document. Now it must sustainable development benefits all” (para 5). The outcomes of the UNCED and WSSD help demonstrate that peace has consistently been acknowledged as a prerequisite for sustainable development. Rio+20 must therefore ensure that ending conflict, addressing its enduring impacts and achieving peace are priority objectives for the international community. This emphasis must be coupled with concrete commitments addressing gaps in implementation, as well as new and emerging challenges, with particular focus on conflict’s impact on young people. In 2008, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon insisted that the protection of children in armed conflict is “a moral call” that “deserves to be placed above politics” and “requires innovative, fearless engagement by all stakeholders.” Indeed, as Graça Machel highlighted in her landmark 1996 report, the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, young people around the world continue to face numerous threats as a result of conflict. Many of these threats, including land contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance, persist for generations after the formal end to hostilities. Conflicts also compromise the delivery of basic services such as education and healthcare, further contributing to the vulnerability of children and youth. Moreover, the opportunities for young people to benefit from sustainable development remain severely hindered by conflict in many parts of the world. Indeed, a number of reports and assessments—including by UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict—show how conflicts have posed an obstacle to achievement of the MDGs. In Resilient People, Resilient Planet (2012), the Global Sustainability Panel (GSP) insists that “[p]articular attention needs to be paid to the development challenges faced by low-income countries experiencing or emerging from conflict” (para 238). In these countries, the GSP explains, conflict has contributed “to the fragility of their situations and the insecurity of their citizens.” Bearing in mind the persistent impacts of conflict on development, SustainUS joins the Major Group for Children and Youth in calling for any framework for Sustainable Development Goals to feature targets and indicators on peace and conflict, with young people actively and meaningfully engaged as valuable participants in conflict prevention, as well as post-conflict environmental cleanup, sustainable development and peacemaking, at all levels. ■ ___________________________________________________
be expanded and made more action-oriented. This proposal and its further expansion have ample precedent, as peace and conflict figured prominently in negotiations at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (UNCED), as well as the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. In fact, two Rio Principles are dedicated exclusively to addressing peace and conflict. Principle 24 reminds us that “[w]arfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development,” and Principle 25 emphasizes that “[p]eace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.” Furthermore, in the Johannesburg Declaration, states committed “to act together, united by a common determination to save our planet, promote human development and achieve universal prosperity and peace” (para 35). Armed conflict was named a “severe threat” to sustainable development, while states “reaffirmed [their] pledge to place particular focus on, and give priority attention to, the fight against” it (para 19). In the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, peace and security are called “essential for achieving sustainable development and ensuring that
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Water is essential to meeting the multiple demands of consumption, sanitation, agriculture and energy, among many other important areas. As such, it must be part of any discussions on the green economy. Existing initiatives seek to tackle different aspects of the water challenge, including environmental services, sanitation, infrastructure and health. However, this fragmentation of existing water commitments weakens water stakeholders’ ability to develop a unified voice to define the role that water will play at Rio+20. Ensuring clean and accessible water is essential for lifting people from poverty and for achieving a decent quality of life. Poor infrastructure and lack of integrated management are responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world. Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively affect food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families. To make matters worse, severe droughts afflict some of the world's poorest countries, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. resources are already scarce relative to the population. The JPOI provides a framework to implement the original Earth Summit commitments, with special focuses on Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity (WEHAB). Agenda 21 and the JPOI emphasize the importance of increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a central element of poverty reduction. The Millennium Declaration and the JPOI also include timelines for the implementation of water-related commitments. Progress on the Water Challenge Reports from groups like the World Health Organization and UN-Water demonstrate that the world is not on track to meet established water management goals. Additionally, institutional problems exacerbate the water challenge. This is in large part because national strategies regarding the use of economic and natural resources often override the goals set by international agreements. Other priorities such as increasing energy access or developing agriculture often compete with water access in developing countries that are forced to stretch limited resources. Key Issues at Rio+20 Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus: There is a need to integrate water into development and sectoral policies, in particular agricultural, rural and urban development and energy policies, to promote efficient water use throughout all productive sectors. Governments and the private sector must facilitate research and incentives to promote water efficiency and water quality monitoring technologies. Right to Water: The UN has recognized the importance of defining water as an independent right since 2010. The right to water guarantees all citizens “sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.” The UN has also adopted guidelines for the realization of the right to drinking water and sanitation and unifying principles for public action. Consequently, green economy policies must respect the human right to water. Transboundary Cooperation: The achievement of an equitable distribution of water and cooperation among water users will only be achieved if Member States recognize existing transboundary and water basin agreements. This will also facilitate the participation of all stakeholders, including women and children in the promotion of sound water management. ■ ___________________________________________________
Existing International Commitments The international community has a number of existing commitments that aim to protect water resources. UN documents such as the 1992 Earth Summit’s Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and the Millennium Declaration contain timelines of commitments for increasing water access and improving water management. Recently, there has been growing concern over a “global water crisis” resulting from increasing demand for finite fresh water resources, contamination of water supplies and degradation of ecosystems due to mismanagement of water. Amplifying these issues are population growth, urbanization, industrialization and intensification of agriculture. Water will be a critical factor in development strategies for the future, particularly in the growing number of areas where water
fossil fuel subsidies
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Breaking our dependence on fossil fuels is a key requirement for sustainable development and needs to be a top priority for any Rio+20 outcome. Climate change represents a grave threat to international development and the health of our communities, a fact that has been made even more clear by the devastating extreme weather events and oil spills of the past few years. The localized costs of exploration, extraction and inaction will be extraordinarily high and, indeed, already are. We need to actively usher in a new clean energy economy as quickly as possible. The amount of financial support given to the fossil fuel industry in the form of subsidies is staggering and represents a complete rejection of sustainable development. Conservative estimates put the global annual total at roughly $409 billion (USD) spent on consumption-side subsidies, according to the International Energy Agency, and upwards of $100 billion given directly to the coal, oil and gas industries for production, according to the Global Studies Initiative. As young people, our future is being directly compromised by these subsidies which take taxpayer money to support the profit margins of multi-billion dollar corporations and undermine innovation in the energy sector. Fossil fuel subsidies need to be redirected to renewable energy deployment, energy access initiatives and climate adaptation support for the most vulnerable communities. Some countries have already taken the first steps towards reform, having agreed to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies at both the G20 Summit in 2009 and the following APEC leaders meeting. These two groups comprise over 50 of the world’s richest countries, yet—despite formal political commitments—no action has been taken. As a show of good faith, we call on these countries to make good on their agreements and be the first to redirect their fossil fuel subsidies. We call on all Member States to adopt the following at Rio+20: 1) A Process to Phase out Fossil Fuel Subsidies by 2015 In 2009, the G20 countries agreed to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.” Since then there has been little progress. We need countries to agree on a robust framework for action and a set timeline to ensure fossil fuel subsidies are redirected as quickly as possible.
2) A Standard Definition of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Annual Reporting Processes One of the largest obstacles to meaningful action on fossil fuel subsidies is a lack of data on exactly how much is handed out. In part, this is due to disagreements on definitional issues, but it also due to a lack of any consistent reporting processes. We need Rio+20 to establish an annual
framework for national reporting on the size of fossil fuel subsidies and progress made on phasing them out. This reporting must be externally verified. 3) Safeguards to Support Developing Countries and the Most Marginalized Any actions taken need to ensure the most marginalized and vulnerable groups are protected from adverse impacts. Any reform effort must be accompanied by technical and financial assistance at the national level and energy access initiatives at the local level. ■ ___________________________________________________
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