Category Archives: rio+20

Financing our Future: Sustainable Development Financing Strategy

This blog by Amy Cutter, Stakeholder Forum is part of the Wikiprogress Environment series.

As discussions to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) build momentum, attention is starting to shift towards not only what the world should try to achieve, but also how to go about it. This in large part means starting to think about where the money for the proposed transformative action is going to come from. 

Finance is one of the most frequently cited barriers to the implementation of sustainable development, and the need for significant mobilisation of resources to support countries in their efforts to promote sustainable development, including the achievement of SDGs, was acknowledged in the Rio+20 Outcome Document (para. 254).4080473349 8a7de00fdd o 

This sentiment was reiterated at a high-level meeting convened at the end of last month by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), where governments and other stakeholders exchanged views on financing sustainable development in the context of the outcomes ofRio+20, and ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio highlighted the need for an effective strategy for raising finance from a variety of sources in the follow-up to the conference.

In recognition of this need, Member States at Rio+20 agreed to establish an intergovernmental committee of experts to evaluate and propose options for effective financing for sustainable development. 

The Permanent Representatives of Kazakhstan and Norway have been appointed to facilitate the process of establishing the Expert Committee on a Sustainable Development Financing Strategy, which will comprise of 30 experts nominated by regional groups (with equitable geographical representation), and will assess financing needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and synergies of existing instruments and frameworks, and evaluate additional initiatives, before proposing options to facilitate the mobilisation of resources and their effective use in 2014.

The committee has a huge task ahead of it. Estimates of the additional investment needed to fund sustainable development in developing countries are as high as $1 trillion per year for the coming decades; and then there are the politics to consider, of course.

In order to be successful, the committee will need to utilise and build upon the commitments and expertise that have been developed through previous experience financing development and the environment, including the Monterrey ConsensusDoha DeclarationBusan Partnership, and efforts to raise finance for climate change. There will also be a need to respond to changes in the global financial system and the development aid landscape by innovating new solutions and mechanisms to leverage resources.

Financing for development has changed significantly since the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were underpinned by a model based largely on domestic resource mobilisation and official development assistance (ODA). For instance, there has been rapid growth in new forms of development finance, including South-South cooperation, philanthropy and climate finance.

It is therefore vital that the process of developing a sustainable development finance strategy is open and inclusive of a wide range of actors, including non-Development Assistance Committee donors, NGOs, philanthropic organisations, private sector, and other stakeholders, all of which will be instrumental to the mobilisation and delivery of funds.

The co-facilitators have now begun the process of recruiting experts to the panel. In March they invited the Chairs of the regional groups to nominate experts by 31st March 2013 and circulated an indicative list of possible expertise to be included in the panel – including ODA and aid efficiency, domestic resource mobilisation/tax, climate financing, asset management, and innovative financing – to aid the groups in their decision-making.

Despite a commitment in the Rio+20 Outcome Document to establish the process in “open and broad consultation with relevant international and regional financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders” (para. 255), stakeholders don’t appear to have been included in the process so far. This could be, however, partially due to the fact that the group, and the process, has not yet been fully constituted and designed. Furthermore, it is up to individual countries to select their own experts.

However, it is also worth noting that, although non-exhaustive, the contribution of NGOs and philanthropy in financing sustainable development is notably absent from the indicative list of experts.

Over the next few months it will be important to follow this process closely and ensure that stakeholders are not stonewalled, as has been seen in the climate finance talksAs with the negotiations to design a set of SDGs, ensuring the process to develop a strategy to finance sustainable development is inclusive, transparent and draws upon broad multi-stakeholder input and expertise will be vital if we are to successfully finance the future we want. 

Amy Cutter, Project Officer, Stakeholder Forum

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“I am fighting for my future”

In just over ten days, from June 20-22, representatives from world governments, civil society and the private sector will come together in Rio de Janiero for the Rio+20[1] conference, to discuss and address the multiple environmental challenges facing the world today. The objective of the conference is to attain renewed political commitment to sustainable development, ‘while addressing new and emerging challenges’.

Rio+20 follows on from the Earth Summit held twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero, where in recognition of the role of children to the process of sustainable development, a chapter titled ‘Children & Youth in Sustainable Development’ was included in the ‘Agenda 21’ workplan and adopted with the following wording:

“Youth comprise nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population. The involvement of today’s youth in environment and development decision-making and in the implementation of programmes is critical to the long-term success of Agenda 21”.

Twenty years later young people continue to be involved in preparations and through the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) they will be involved in sustainability negotiations at Rio+20.

Balancing the needs of the current generation with those of the future is argued to be a matter of urgency. This message was clearly conveyed at the 1992 Earth Summit, by a 12 year old Canadian girl named Severn Suzuki. In a speech to delegates Suzuki stated that she was there ‘fighting for her future’ and soberingly communicated her fears and concerns for the world while calling on adults to ‘change their ways’.  

Suzuki’s speech resonated with delegates to the point of reducing some to tears. She came to be known as ‘the girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes’ (see the video here) and the impact of her speech reverberated throughout the world.

With over 20 million views on You Tube, Suzuki’s speech continues to be heard as do its core messages of protecting the environment for future generations and of addressing the extreme inequality present throughout the world. Nevertheless, in a world where governments, public and private sector organisations face competing and urgent priorities, the same statement of ‘I am fighting for my future… ‘  could equally be made by Suzuki’s children today.

The consistency of these messages is encouraging, as is the increasing acceptance of the argument for including children’s subjective perceptions in processes of social change and action. Change takes time, sometimes generations. It is easy to become fatigued with the slow pace and in this respect the perspective of children can play a refreshing and encouraging role as well as remind us of the responsibilities we as adults carry for future generations.

A Kenyan proverb, quoted by Archibishop Desmond Tutu is pertinent to this point, “The world was not given to you by your parents; it was lent to you by your children.”
Hannah Chadwick
Wikichild Coordinator



[1] The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit, was first held twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero.