The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) is one of the most important events on the UN agenda. The conference will focus on two themes (i) Green Economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and (ii) the institutional framework for sustainable development.
The objectives of UNCSD 2012 (Rio+20) are:
- securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development,
- assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, and
- addressing new and emerging challenges.
The water perspective
The need to improve the provision of basic water and sanitation services and the management of the world's water resources as well as wastewater has been underlined at previous international conferences on sustainable development. Both Earth Summits in Rio (1992) and Johannesburg (2002) called for actions to improve the delivery of services to the very poor and the way water is managed and used. Rio+20 presents a unique opportunity to boost commitment from governments to implement these actions.
Progress is uneven, and the world is facing major and overlapping global crises: the economic and financial crisis, accelerating environmental degradation, water scarcity and pollution, and emerging impacts of a changing climate. Water and especially sanitation services for the poor are lagging behind in key regions of the world. All of these challenges impede efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve an equitable society.
Water is at the foundation of sustainable development as it is the common denominator of all global challenges: energy, food, health, peace and security and poverty eradication. As such, the preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention. These include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, oceans, disaster readiness and WATER.
UN-Water in the Rio+20 process
With the support of its Members and Partners, UN-Water has engaged and contributed substantially in delivering as one for the management of water resources in the Rio+20 process.
As the United Nations official coordination mechanism for water issues, UN-Water has played a key role in articulating key deliverables on water at Rio. Its engagement in the Bonn Nexus Conference on Water, Food and Energy as well as its input into the Secretary-General's Action Plan has also demonstrated UN-Water's strengthened coordinating role as well as its success in devising solutions for the management of water resources for development. The success of high level events in Rome, New York, and around the world on the occasion of World Water Day 2012 on water and food security, its exhibition and engagement in Marseilles during the 6th World Water Forum and its communications initiatives for Rio +20 contributed to advocate for water as a foundation of sustainable development. UN-Water has in particular produced a ToolBox and a Statement on "Water in the Green Economy", and proposed its Deliverables for Rio+20.