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Research Report

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The United Nations was created in 1945 without an environmental body. Almost thirty years later, in 1972, governments established UNEP. Twenty years later, in the early 1990s, when rethinking the institutional arrangements, they created the Global Environment Facility and the Commission on Sustainable Development, as well as several core conventions (on climate, biodiversity and desertification). Despite the attempts to bring about further governance reform over the last decade, however, progress has been limited. While governance discussions continued, they were never explicitly on the political agenda. Now, for the first time since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, a clear political opportunity to reshape the institutions for environment and development has opened up. The 2012 Rio Conference on Sustainable Development is expected to make decisions on governance under the rubric ‘institutional framework for sustainable development,’ one of the core themes of the Conference. Even a decision for no reform will have enduring consequences and will shape the actions of the global community over the next twenty years.


By Dr. Maria Ivanova, for Stakeholder Forum.

Sdg2012 is Stakeholder Forum’s Sustainable Development Governance Programme towards the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (UNCSD), also known as ‘Rio+20’ and ‘Earth Summit 2012’. The programme has a number of elements, including the publication of think pieces from a variety of stakeholders, the production of briefing papers and analysis, the coordination of a global network to share ideas and promote discussion, and the development of information resources.


Stakeholder Forum



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