United Nations proposes Universal Declaration of Sustainable Development

Global body hopes 10 clear goals will build on Rio+20

The United Nations’ High-Level Advisory Panel on Sustainable Development yesterday (September 9) published a recommendation for governments to sign a Universal Declaration of Sustainable Development – akin to 1948’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights – as it outlined proposals to reinvigorate its work to coalesce business, science and legislators around the themes of climate change and poverty alleviation. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the economist, and Vuk Jeremić, a Serbian politician and President of the current United Nations General Assembly, unveiled the proposals in New York in a new report titled: “The United Nations in the Age of Sustainable Development”. The Declaration aims to build on the concluding report to the 2012 Rio+20 Summit entitled ‘The World We Want’, where member states charged the UN General Assembly with three key missions: to define Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to identify how they could be financed, and to outline the inter-governmental implementation and monitoring systems required to achieve them. In the Declaration, the panel drafts ten goals, which it says should be urgently addressed by member governments. It describes them as “critical starting point(s)” in the resolution of the sustainable development crisis.The panel said the Declaration’s ten goals were designed to be brief and clear in the hope of generating strong public support. It said the Declaration would build on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which only go out to 2015, but which have been criticised for falling far short of their targets. Among the ten Declaration goals of clear interest to investors are proposals to decarbonise the energy system via target dates of 2020, 2030 and 2050. The UN says governments should also promote incentives to hinder climate change and promote the sustainable and transparent management of water, agricultural land and forests to support and achieve the SDGs.
Another recommendation is that governments should push for transparency from companies via annual reports on economic activity and their resulting externalities on the environment. More broadly, the UN said countries should sign up to reporting annually on their own sustainable development activities with a view to integrating these into expanded social and GDP measures.
Link to the UN report