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UN forum approves thematic work programme on sustainable development through 2017

UN forum approves thematic work programme on sustainable development through 2017

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development ended its current session today with a forward looking work plan – built around two-year “implementation cycles” on related issues – to focus efforts on ensuring the broadest possible support for achieving global development goals.

As the key UN forum bringing countries together to consider ways to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic growth, social development and environmental protection - the Commission approved a multi-year programme of work featuring different thematic clusters of issues for each cycle. The first, to be addressed in 2004 and 2005, would include water, sanitation, and human settlements.

The text says that following that, the second cycle would focus on energy, industrial development, air pollution, and climate change. The third would be devoted to agriculture, rural development, droughts, and desertification. The fourth cluster would be devoted to waste management, the fifth involved forests, biodiversity, biotechnology, tourism, and mountains, and the sixth, to be discussed in 2014 and 2015, comprised oceans and small island developing States (SIDS).

The years 2016 to 2017 would be devoted to an overall appraisal of implementation of goals laid down in "Agenda 21" - a blueprint for sustainable development agreed upon at the 1992 UN Conference for Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -- and the Plan of Implementation adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Closing out its eleventh session at UN Headquarters in New York this afternoon, the Commission approved that draft resolution on its future work programme, which must later be approved by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), aimed at better implementation of goals laid down in global conferences as well as assisting in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000.

At a press conference earlier, Nitin Desai, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, summed up the session, calling it an overall success. He supported the text approving the thematic clustering of development issues, saying that now, progress would "not be limited to shallow discussion of a range of issues that was too wide." Because the thematic clusters were coherent and focused, he felt that the participation of officials other than environmental ministers would be facilitated, and that broader governmental participation would be good for the implementation of sustainable development agreements.