Rio+20 outcome document underscores added value of regional approaches

United Nations Regional Commissions welcomed the renewed trust placed by member States in the Commissions through the Rio+20 outcome document and the essential role they play in promoting an integrated and balanced approach to sustainable development at the regional level, a High-Level Roundtable heard on Thursday.

“We are pleased that many of the agreements reached here found their basis in the regional positions and agreements achieved in the regional preparatory meetings leading to this conference and organized by the regional commissions,” said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in her address to the panel on behalf of Executive Secretaries from the five Regional Commissions.

“Through these regional meetings, there was general agreement that the future of this planet depends on an integrated and balanced approach to sustainable development. It was also acknowledged that green economy policies, if pursued, should be firmly anchored within the overarching framework of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and while it does offer many opportunities, the process of transition to a green economy may be challenging for many developing countries especially Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island developing States.”

For countries in these categories, transfer of technology, capacity building, and predictable financial resources are essential for the effective implementation of sustainable development. A bottom-up approach was also stressed in the preparatory meetings as key to an effective institutional framework for sustainable development and that the regional level is critical in providing efficient and coherent linkage between the national and global levels.

The Rio+20 outcome document, entitled “The Future We Want,” identifies what has to be done to advance sustainable development and recognizes the crucial role played by the Commissions at the regional level in promoting an integrated and balanced approach to sustainable development. This includes the initiation of an inclusive, transparent and open intergovernmental process to develop Sustainable Development Goals and promoting a balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development in their regions.

In line with this, the outcome document calls for the Commissions to assist member States, upon their request, in developing green economy policies and to support the decision- making process at the global level through a regional bottom-up approach of evidence-based analysis and policy advice, including for the development of the sustainable development goals.

In closing, Dr. Heyzer underscored the Commissions continued commitment and role as effective multi-sectoral platforms for action on sustainable development at the regional level and in bringing the voices of the regions to the global level.


The UN’s five Regional Commisions are: the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic Commission for West Asia (ESCWA).