Meeting ends with "Solo Messages"
on sustainable development
Published in SUNS #7196 dated 22 July 2011
Solo, Indonesia, 21 Jul (Meena Raman) -- The high-level
dialogue on the institutional framework for sustainable development
(IFSD) organized by the government of Indonesia and the United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) in Solo, Indonesia,
ended on 21 July with closing speeches and the presentation of a document
termed the "Solo Messages."
The closing speeches by the Indonesian Environment Minister and the
head of UN-DESA stressed that the meeting had provided greater clarity
on the various options for strengthening the IFSD.
In the first two days, participants had discussed various options for
improving the IFSD, ranging from the incremental approach to enhancing
the mandate of ECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council) and reviewing
the role of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to the establishment
of a new sustainable development council. They also discussed the sustainable
development system at national and local levels, and how to strengthen
At a closing session on 21 July, Indonesian Minister of Environment,
Prof. Dr. Gusti Muhammad Hatta, conveyed what he called "a set
of common understandings" from the discussions, which he referred
to as the "Solo Messages". Closing remarks were also delivered
by Ambassador Sha Zukang, the Secretary-General of the UN Conference
on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), who said that the meeting defined more clearly
the options for strengthening the IFSD.
Presenting the "Solo Messages", Hatta said: "First, to
achieve our shared goal, we need to renew our political commitment for
sustainable development. We also need to translate this commitment into
implementation. Political commitment and implementation is crucial.
We can design the best institutions, the best arrangements, the best
mechanisms but if there is no political commitment, these institutions
would not work and we will not get anywhere.
"Second, we need to ensure that the economic, social, and environmental
pillars work together with each pillar integrating the goals of the
other two pillars.
"Third, at the international level, we need to enhance the integration
of sustainable development. Various options were discussed, ranging
from an enhanced mandate for ECOSOC and reviewing the role of the CSD
to the establishment of a sustainable development council.
"Fourth, at the national level, there is need for more integrated
support for national strategies. Various options were discussed including
the UN delivering as one.
"Fifth, there is a need to strengthen UNEP (UN Environment Programme)
and a number of options were discussed.
"Sixth, more broadly, sustainable development governance at the
local, national and regional level needs to be reviewed and supported.
"Seventh, new and additional financing is necessary to enable implementation
for capacity building and technology transfer."
The Minister said that he would be preparing a Chair's summary which
would be his contribution to the Rio+20
process and will be available in two weeks.
In his concluding remarks, Sha, who is also the UN Under-Secretary General
for Economic and Social Affairs, said that participants discussed ideas
in a frank and open manner on the IFSD. "We made progress in more
clearly defining options for strengthening IFSD. Six months ago, at
second preparatory committee meeting, our vision on IFSD was still blurred.
It is now clearer," said Sha.
"Proposals for strengthening the international architecture range
from the incremental to the more ambitious. There is widespread agreement
on the need to strengthen the environmental pillar of sustainable development,
while at the same time reinforcing the economic and social pillars and
achieving greater balance among the three. Obviously, there is general
support for strengthening UNEP. The specifics differ from proposal to
proposal. One with some support is to turn UNEP into a specialized agency.
It seems there is no consensus on this at the moment.
"We have heard elsewhere a proposal for the creation of a World
Environment Organisation. Along with strengthening UNEP, this proposal
is being examined in the Executive Committee for Economic and Social
Affairs (EC-ESA+) study.
"On strengthening integration among the three pillars, some ideas
have generated interest. One significant proposal is the formation of
a sustainable development council. There are variations of this proposal,
but the basic motif is to address the necessity to integrate the three
pillars at a high level within the United Nations.
"We can agree to explore further the possibility of creating such
a sustainable development council. There are a number of questions which
need to be sorted out. For example, how concretely would such a council
achieve genuine integration among the pillars? How specifically do we
make it effective in supporting implementation? Then there are structural
questions. While creating such a council, what should we do with the
CSD? Transform the CSD or something else? What would be the proposed
council's relationship to ECOSOC and the General Assembly? How would
it relate to other organizations, including UNEP? What subsidiary bodies
and support mechanisms are needed?"
He said that in the coming weeks, members have to work hard to offer
many of the answers.
On enhancing national and local institutions, Sha said that in many
cases, the national councils on sustainable development have remained
under-resourced and dominated by environment ministries. He asked how
adequate resources for those institutions and the involvement of all
relevant ministries can be ensured. He also asked if existing institutions
have the capacity to address new issues and challenges and how to make
those institutions more relevant and effective in the 21st century and
how to strengthen them.
Sha added that the important themes during the meeting had been "integration,
implementation, coordination and coherence."
On the issue of integration, he said that horizontal integration among
the three pillars of sustainable development have not often been achieved
by institutions on their own. "A number of you have mentioned success
stories in achieving closer integration in your planning and policy
making. A strengthened institutional framework must support governments
in achieving closer integration," he said.
"Integration also needs to be vertical, i. e. closer integration
between decisions taken at the global level, policies at the national
level and actions on the ground. Translating international sustainable
development commitments into domestic policy and practice can benefit
from sharing international, regional and national experiences.
"Many of you have registered disappointment with implementation
of sustainable development commitments. The evidence of weak implementation
is all too visible. Weak implementation is not just an institutional
problem but can also be the result of weak political will. That is why
Rio+ 20's objective of securing renewed
political commitment for sustainable development is so important.
"Once political will is there, we need strong and effective institutions
to carry it out. Many of you shared concrete suggestions on how to empower
the UN system to provide effective support for implementation. For implementation,
several of you also mentioned the importance of engaging more closely
with the international financial institutions and other parts of the
economic pillar. They are highly influential in setting and financing
the development agenda. Further mainstreaming sustainable development
in their work will go far towards genuine integration.
"On the need for greater coordination and coherence among international
and regional institutions, there is much fragmentation, overlap and
duplication. There is room for streamlining and closer alignment of
work programmes and objectives and also for realizing greater synergies,
including among multilateral environmental agreements."
Sha also informed participants that other meetings will be hosted by
member States including Brazil,
China and India, before
the 1 November deadline for inputs to be provided for the compilation
text for the Rio Plus 20 conference. +
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