Can developed and developing countries find common ground?

By CSRwire Contributing Writer Martha Shaw

The 19th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-19) opened with hopes countries will agree on policy decisions that will significantly improve the safe use of chemicals, management of waste, safety in mining, efficiency of transport and reduction of the world’s consumption of Earth’s materials. Annual CSD meetings seek to promote more sustainable use of Earth’s resources. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, warned of the consequences of unsustainable consumption and production on the world’s ecosystems. Member States are being urged to agree on a plan to promote more efficient and safer use of chemicals and waste.

“We need to change our consumption and production patterns so that our economies proceed on sustainable paths, and so that we are able to address key global challenges like climate change, water and other resource scarcities, and environmental degradation,” said Mr. Sha Zukang.

“Globally, unsustainable consumption and production threatens to exceed the carrying capacity of life support systems,” Mr. Sha told the 53-member body. “This imbalance is obvious – whether measured by greenhouse gas concentrations, by the number of endangered species, by rates of deforestation, or by decreases in fish stocks.”

Mr. Sha expressed his hope the CSD will launch an ambitious framework to support countries’ and other actors’ move towards sustainable consumption and production, adding that such an initiative would send the right message and generate positive momentum towards a successful outcome at next year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012.

He noted a 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP on SCP) would promote development that is within the carrying capacity of ecosystems and contribute to progress on the three pillars of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental.

“Much more can and must be done across the globe to pursue inclusive and environmentally sound economic growth. We must accelerate our efforts to advance sustainable development and to meet our commitments to future generations,” said Mr. Sha, who also serves as Secretary-General of the conference set to take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, known as Rio+20.

Dan Shepard, a United Nations information officer for UN Department for Public Information (UNDPI) commented, “If this commission can agree on a 10-year program, this will guide countries and individuals to help create an ecosystem that will reduce waste. I think that countries know what needs to be done. At CSD-19, they will be discussing how they can do it on a collective basis. I think the decisions that come from this meeting will form the vital building blocks for the Rio+20 conference.”

Joan Kirby, a representative from a non-governmental organization to CSD-19, commented, “The best thing would be agreements between the developed and developing world. The divide persists.”

Close to 1,000 representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other parts of civil society are attending the Commission’s two-week meeting, which is the lead-in to Rio+20.

Rio+20 will mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development that was agreed to at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

About Martha Shaw

Martha Shaw is a contributing writer for CSRwire covering clean technology and other topics. Martha has been named an Adweek Creative All Star and is the winner of international awards in communications. She is a member of the Climate Literacy Network, Fellow of the Explorers Club, board member of NYSES and CEO of Earth Advertising.

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