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Interview: UN to launch global network to support sustainable development agenda

English.news.cn   2012-09-21 00:45:33            

by Rosalind Adams

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations will launch a global network later this week to mobilize civil society organizations around a post-2015 sustainable development agenda, according to a senior UN advisor.

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, set to be launched on Sept. 22, will "bring scientific and technical networks around the world into the post-2015 problem-solving on sustainable development," Jeffrey Sachs, director of the network and also a special advisor to UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, told Xinhua in a recent telephone interview.

The network will target the "triple bottom line," focusing on " economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability," said Sachs, who is an American economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The goals of the network, composed of public and private entities like universities, scientific research organizations, businesses and technology centers, are to inform high-level working groups on technical issues, to support local and national sustainability initiatives, and to bring attention to new technologies that may play a key role in the future of sustainable development.

Sachs voiced his hope that the network will play a role that traditional UN governing bodies cannot play.

"Most of the current UN processes are intergovernmental," he noted. "They're not technical, they're not practical for problem solving."

The current UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that target key issues like water, sanitation and education will expire in 2015. As agreed at the recent Rio+20 conference held in Brazil in June, a list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be decided by 2015 to build on the MDGs.

The MDGs -- a set of eight anti-poverty targets to be reached by its deadline of 2015 -- and the post-2015 global development initiatives are expected to be one of the issues top on the agenda of this year's General Debate of the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled to open next Tuesday.

The MDGs have been effective because they are easy to understand, for everyone from children in grade school to development experts, said Sachs. "That kind of broad mobilization is what gives them success," he added.

Looking forward, the UN advisor said: "We need to do the same on sustainable development, which is an even more complicated agenda."

Sachs called for "short, specific, understandable and inspirational goals for the world to take on."

The UN chief has appointed a high-level panel to advise on developing a framework for a post-2015 development agenda, as well as an intergovernmental working group to create the SDGs. Both will begin their meetings on the sidelines of the new session of the UN General Assembly.

Ban said in July in a briefing to the General Assembly that the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda must align so as to " enable member states to define a single global development framework with sustainable development at its core."

But with so many players involved, the question at hand is exactly how these goals will be decided.

"Whether the world can actually set a framework and agree on something is the biggest single challenge right now," said Sachs.

Many obstacles impede cooperation on this issue. "There are a lot of interests, the level of trust in the international system is rather low right now, unfortunately. There are also money issues involved in all of this," Sachs noted.

But he stressed that an effective list of global goals can create incentives, provide clarity of the issues and inspire young people.

"There's an enormous benefit for the world in reaching an agreement," said Sachs.

The secretary-general is expected to present his recommendations on the SDGs and the post-2015 agenda to the UN General Assembly in 2013, UN officials said here.

Sachs plans to have a leadership council, by-laws and working group chairs in place within his global solutions network by the end of this year. The membership phase will begin next year, in time to be a strong network of support for a new post-2015 agenda.

"The question is how far can we get by 2013 in new understandings, new agreements, new frameworks," he said.

Editor: yan
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