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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From a new IISD Newsletter – “Sustainable Development in Action” (First year – Third issue).

Co-facilitators for Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals appointed.

The President of the General Assembly has appointed the Permanent Representatives of Hungary – Ambassador Csaba Korosi – and Kenya – Ambassador Macharia Kamau – as co-facilitators to prepare for the first meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  In addition, as facilitators, the President of the General Assembly has also appointed H.E. Amb. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti of Brazil in order to facilitate the transition from the Rio+20 or the June 2012 meeting that was run by Brazil, and Ambassador Dejan Sahovic as a Special liaison to Mr. Vuk Jeremic of Serbia – now President of the UN General Assembly. Last position before joining Mr. Jeremic in New York – Mr. Sahovic served as Ambassador of Serbia to Hungary (2008-2012)

Initially, they will facilitate consultations on the group’s leadership, agenda, and program of work and methods.

The first meeting of the OWG is currently expected to take place in mid-March 2013 -
(letter of appointment).

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In UN fashion – this process, started last Mid-June having not led to a UNGA decision at the 2012 General Assembly meeting is now being pushed to bring forward suggestions to the September 2013 UN General assembly meeting, but rather then establishing directly a committee of specialists – the above decision leads to a group of diplomats that will in turn have to bring in the specialists – thus guaranteeing the continuation of the non-functioning UN Commission on Sustainable Development, rather then replace it with a better functioning body. We tend to bet that eventually the dead CSD will be asked to show the way; above pace is a disappointment to those that thought finally there will be action at the UN on Sustainable Development.

Establishing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals to replace the MDGs that run out in 2015, is laudable but it seems also pre-ordained that the time till 2015 is intentionally not put to good use.
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One of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, was the agreement by Member States to launch a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 did not elaborate specific goals but stated that the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate.

The goals should address in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

A 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly is tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

The Open Working Group was established on 22nd of January 2013 by the decision of the General Assembly.

The Member States have decided to use an innovative, constituency-based system of representation that is new to limited membership bodies of the General Assembly. This means that most of the seats in the OWG are shared by several countries.

The Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want states that, at the outset, the OWG will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience.

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