Skip to main content

ESCWA 27th Session to Discuss Rio+20 Regional Preparations


Beirut, 2 May 2012 (ESCWA Communications and Information Unit)- The 27th Ministerial Session of ESCWA will take place two months ahead of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. The Conference will mark the 20th anniversary of the World Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro and the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the past two years, ESCWA led a multi-stakeholder consultative process in cooperation with regional and national partners. The process included meetings, briefings, reports and outreach activities, aimed at harmonizing Arab positions towards the objectives and themes of Rio+20. Within this context, ESCWA issued a report on the preparatory process that addressed the issues of concern for the Arab world and steps to be taken by Arab countries. At the ESCWA Session, the report will be the subject of a ministerial round table discussion entitled: “Preparations for Rio+20 in the Arab Region.” Rio+20 is expected to make notable contributions in advancing the goal of sustainable development. It provides an historic opportunity to move away from business-as-usual and identify new pathways to greener and more equitable economic growth. Rio+20 will bring together governments, international institutions and major groups to discuss seven critical issues: jobs; energy; cities; food; water; oceans; and disasters. The two main themes of Rio+20 are the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. Preparations for Rio+20 are a shared responsibility of the entire United Nations system. Specifically, the five regional commissions, including ESCWA, have been mandated to lead regional preparations to ensure that member countries make high-quality inputs to the Conference. In implementation of this mandate, ESCWA collaborated with two major regional partners, the League of Arab States and the United Nations Environment Programme/Regional Office for West Asia, to lead a consultative process to harmonize Arab positions towards the Rio+20 objectives and themes. The structure of the Zero Draft document, issued in January 2012 for Rio + 20, reflects the objectives and themes of the Conference. Sections are devoted to Renewing political commitment, Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and Institutional framework for sustainable development. The final section of the document, the “Framework for action and follow-up”, covers priority thematic issues and areas. It provides methods for measuring progress through sustainable development goals and addresses finance, access to and transfer of technology, capacity-building and trade. The Zero Draft is currently the subject of intense negotiations by countries. A number of civil society organizations have expressed their opinion that the draft is weak and is not ambitious enough. Within the Bureau of the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee, some developed counties considered that the draft lacked specificity and was weak on human rights and governance. Developing countries expressed concerns that the means of implementation were not addressed strongly enough, and that the pillars of sustainable development had received neither adequate nor specific attention. The ministerial round table discussion on preparations for Rio+20 will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 May 2012. Participants will discuss challenges highlighted in the report prepared by ESCWA, including sustainable development challenges in Arab countries, which are exacerbated by socio-political changes that are sweeping the region.