• Road to Rio: Building a sustainable future we all want | Rebeca Grynspan

    22 Mar 2012

    Two women next to multifunctional platform in Mali
    Sustainability needs to bring to the environmental dimension the economic and social objectives for green, inclusive and resilient growth. Development must be people-centered, promoting rights, opportunities, choices, and dignity. Photo: UNDP

    We have advanced in our understanding that development is not only about economic growth. Sustainability needs to bring to the environmental dimension the economic and social objectives for green, inclusive and resilient growth. Development must be people-centered, promoting rights, opportunities, choices, and dignity.  We need to empower women, youth and communities.

    Both the Report of the Global Sustainability Panel and the 2011 Human Development Report , and the United Nations Secretary-General  make a strong case for better integrating the economic, social, and environmental dimensions for sustainable development.

    20 years ago in Rio these same three pillars where clearly stated as well. So the question is:

    What should be the priorities in Rio+20 to advance progress in sustainable development? 

    1 The dialogue needs to be inclusive - the environmental community, the social community, the private sector and other partners should be involved actively.

    2 The integration of the environmental, social and economic pillars while engaging diverse actors - from energy companies to community groups - should be visibly included in the action plan. The Secretary General's initiative on Sustainable Energy for All is a good and important example for this.

    3 To tackle complex and interrelated global challenges, countries need fair, effective and responsive institutions and governments capable of identifying, implementing, and financing policies and programming for sustainable development. The role the UN can play on this in partnership with the international community should be emphasized.

    4 Our ability to act is also dependent on adequate financing. Global capital and local resources must be mobilized and used catalytically, if we are to make good on our commitments for sustainable development and transition to climate resilient and low-carbon models.

    5 Stepped up south-south and triangular co-operation as well as technology with innovators are essential for our success.

    6 Even as we begin the conversation about what the post-2015 development framework will look like, every effort must go into achieving the Millennium Development Goals we currently have - sustainably and equitably.

    7 Better measures such as a new sustainable development index or a set of indicators expanding on the Human Development Index will be needed to reflect more holistically the value we ascribe to human development and the environment.

    Talk to me: What should be priorities on the agenda of Rio+20 so we can build a sustainable future we all want together?

    “Road to Rio” is a series of posts by senior officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), outlining some of the key challenges around human development central for achieving the sustainable future we want.


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Rebeca Grynspan is UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator.

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