Tuesday, 7 February 2012

New UN report on resilient people and planet

This week, Wikiprogress is highlighting a very full report which came out recently from the UN Secretary General High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, “Resilient People, Resilient Plant: a future worth choosing” chaired by the Presidents of Finland and South Africa.

The report is written for a child born this year who will come of age in 2030 in an effort to explain how we got to this point in 2012 and how the Panel recommends to fix it.

The report is broken out into three big sections:

1) Empowering people (gender equality, human rights)
2) Transforming the global economy (green growth)
3) Strengthening Institutions (sustainable development goals, a framework for measuring progress)

Below are just a few recommendations that jumped out at me while reading. There are 56 recommendations in total to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy “as quickly as possible”.
1) There is a real emphasis in this report on getting policy makers at all levels to make decisions for the long term rather than the short. Interesting considering panel is full of politicians (or their senior ministers/advisors). There is a recommendation for an “incentive road map” in terms of the wins predicted along the way if we plan for sustainability. This is a good idea. I wish they would call it something else though. The term “road map” immediately conjures images of bureaucracy. They  could call it “Incentive Alley” or something. Though, that makes it sound like a Broadway show.

2) Fight for gender equality because without it there can be no sustainability. Nice to see this spelled out so clearly in a report that isn’t about gender equality but rather about sustainability. A lot of these reports make an e f f o r t at gender mainstreaming but in this one it seems almost effortless.

3) Create Sustainable Development Goals (the recommend progress metrics alongside absolute goals, incorporate near term benchmarks, and covering all countries in the world) AND a common framework to measure progess. These are two separate issues with different recommendations in this report though with obvious overlap. I think it is good that the goals are separated from the indicators in this paper; however, the tone of it all seems to be very top down. It will be impossible to come up with universal indicators as there is no one size fits all indicator. This is a criticism of the current MDGs as well.

4) Pull everyone out of their silos of expertise and create a new language of progress. For too long, economists, social activists and environmental scientists have simply talked past each other”. Yes, we have heard that one many many times before but nothing seems to change there. The Panel are calling for a new order so that we can finally pass the test that the earth is giving us on “the capacity of the planet to sustain us”. 

The Panel includes high level representatives from Finland, South Africa, The United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, Mexico, Sweden, Mozambique, Korea, Japan, Denmark, Spain, India, United States, Australia, Barbados, Brazil and China.

Angela Hariche

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you on this one. Gender equality in this document is to be pursued as an explicit goal with a combination of two approaches. The first through targeted projects (such as working in agriculture at the community level) and mainstreaming processes (corporate leadership to promote fair treatment and mutual respect in the workplace for example).
    The questions is: will this happen?