Asia-Pacific delegates conclude regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20 with re-affirmation of commitment to sustainable development

Delegates from 41 countries of the Asian and Pacific region concluded the Asian and Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio +20) in Seoul yesterday. The meeting considered the two themes of the Rio +20 – a green economy in the context of sustainable development; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. In opening the meeting, H.E. Ms. Yoo Young-Sook,Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea, host country of the meeting, noted the broad consensus that a green economy can provide an alternative development model, and emphasized that its benefits must be maximized through effective policies to promote social equity.

The outcome of the meeting, titled the "Seoul Outcome", calls for the results of Rio +20 to be based on the Rio Principles, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. The Seoul Outcome also stresses that Rio+20 should be action oriented, inclusive and supportive of a global partnership for sustainable development. The meeting made recommendations regarding green economy, and further agreed that reforms to the institutional framework for sustainable development should be aimed at strengthening governance in the economic, social and environmental pillars and improving integration among them at both political and operational levels, as well as enhancing the role of the United Nations in advancing sustainable development, among other recommendations.

Both government and civil society delegates stressed the urgency of the challenges facing the world, with many calling for new development and economic paradigms and for increased support for implementing green economy and green growth approaches. Civil society emphasized that technological fixes alone would not be sufficient to address environmental challenges and resource constraints and urged further progress on ensuring people’s participation. A joint statement submitted to the meeting urged an objective appraisal of the implementation of sustainable development commitments at the Rio +20 conference.

Participants suggested that more action was needed in a wide range of areas, including sustainable consumption and production and implementing the agreed Rio principles, in particular Rio Principle 10, access to information. Other areas included promoting rights-based approaches to development and social justice; commitments to workers rights and decent jobs; democracy and human rights; regulatory frameworks for financial markets; gender equality and the use of gender disaggregated data; providing children and youth with education, training and other opportunities and addressing child labour; and partnerships between business and industry, governments and the natural science, social science and technology community. The statements from delegates also suggested several practical measures for achieving sustainable development and for supporting a transition to a green economy at global and national levels – including the establishment of new development goals and measures of progress, and mechanisms for financing sustainable development and green economy investments, for example a Sustainable Development or Green Economy Fund.

In his closing address, Mr. Sha Zhukang Secretary-General of UNCSD Secretariat congratulated the meeting for reaching an agreement on the outcome of the meeting and underlined that the Asian and Pacific region was perhaps the most dynamic and diverse of global regions and, as a result had much to share with the rest of the world.