The necessary and undisputed global governance reform

Since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972, the scope of sustainable development governance has expanded considerably at all levels: local, national, regional and international levels. Fifteen years later the Brundtland Report (Our Common Future) by Gro Harlem Brundtland was published, which recorded the famous definition of the term sustainable development:

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The report was only to address the need for economic development without depleting natural resources or harming the environment. This document was the focus of discussions at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, the number of multilateral environmental agreements has increased significantly, but despite this growing number of institutions and processes that talk about sustainable development, global environmental problems are intensifying. The results of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005 showed that in the last 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems much faster than at any time in the history of mankind, and this has resulted in a substantial loss and often irreversible biodiversity on Earth.

In order to organize all this evolutionary history on environmental international policy, less than a month ago, the Stakeholder Forum, together with the Commonwealth Secretariat have published a new book (2nd Edition) as part of SDG2012 titled “A Pocket Guide for sustainable development governance.” The guide gives background information on global governance for sustainable development for the governmental and nongovernmental about the key themes of the Rio +20 conference. Some of the specific problems in this regard are as follows:

• The Governance of the Global Commons
• Effectiveness of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
• Effectiveness of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
• Coherence and Co-ordination
• Integration of social, economic and environmental approaches
• Climate Change Governance
• The Role of Institutional Financial Institutions (IFIs) in advancing Sustainable Development

The guide explains, in a very summary way, past international events that may have an evolutionary view of history and international environmental policy. The guide is divided into four sections:

1. Concepts for Sustainable Development Governance
2. Global Governance Institutions for Sustainable Development
3. Proposals to reform the governance of Sustainable Development
4. Governance Processes for Sustainable Development

If you want only an overview of governance issues that are being discussed and that will be discussed at the conference, I recommend reading the “quick facts” in the section “Reform Proposals for Sustainable Development Governance”. This section outlines the multiple proposals that have been put forward by a range of stakeholders to reform the global governance for sustainable development. It gives a flavour of each proposal and provides sufficient background information for readers to familiarise themselves with the main components of the proposal.

-Cinthia Pereira