Introduction to Sustainable Development

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Class taught at Institut Supérieur de Gestion, September 2010

Class taught at Institut Supérieur de Gestion, September 2010

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  • 1. Sustainable Development: Introduction and Definitions ISG, Fall 2010 September 23, 2010
  • 2. The big milestones (1972-87)  1972: UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm (Club of Rome, 0 Growth concept)  Gro Harlem Brundtland was asked by the SG in December 1983 to form a commission to implement “A Global Agenda for Change”, a call by the UN GA for “long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development by the year 2000 and beyond.”  1987: World Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland Commission published “Our Common Future” (A/42/427)  Para. 15 states: “In essence, sustainable development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.”  Para 10: “Growth has no set limits in terms of population or resource use beyond which lies ecological disaster. Different limits hold for the use of energy, materials, water, and land. Many of these will manifest themselves in the form of rising costs and diminishing returns, rather than in the form of any sudden loss of a resource base. … But ultimate limits there are, and sustainability requires that long before these are reached, the world must ensure equitable access to the constrained resource and reorient technological efforts to relieve the pressure.”
  • 3. Milestones 2 (Rio-1992)  At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio (June 1992), the international community adopted Agenda 21, an unprecedented global plan of action for sustainable development.  Outcomes: Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of Forest Principles, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Commission on Sustainable Development established. Meets annually at UN HQ in NY.  Patterns of production had to be scrutinized; alternative sources of energy would have to be developed; public transportation systems were advocated reduce vehicle emissions; concern over the future scarcity of water was stressed.
  • 4. Wording that came out of Rio  “The achievement of sustainable development requires the integration of its economic, environmental and social components at all levels. This is facilitated by continuous dialogue and action in global partnership, focusing on key sustainable development issues .” UN Division for Sustainable Development  “Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being. However, integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future. No nation can achieve this on its own; but together we can - in a global partnership for sustainable development.” Agenda 21 preamble, 1992.
  • 5. Milestones 3 (Johannesburg-2002)  In 2002 the Johannesburg Summit also known as the World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in South Africa from 26 August to 4 September. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation was adopted highlighting concrete steps to better implement Agenda 21.  In addition to governments, there was active participation by representatives from business and industry, children and youth, indigenous people, local authorities, NGOs, scientific communities, women, and workers and trade unions. Partnerships and roundtables, but a bit of disappointment.  Para 16 of the Johannesburg Declaration: “We are determined to ensure that our rich diversity, which is our collective strength, will be used for constructive partnership for change and for the achievement of the common goal of sustainable development.”
  • 6. Wording from the Johannesburg Declaration  Para. 17:” Recognizing the importance of building human solidarity, we urge the promotion of dialogue and cooperation among the world's civilizations and peoples…”  18: “We … are resolved, through decisions on targets, timetables and partnerships, to speedily increase access to such basic requirements as clean water, sanitation, adequate shelter, energy, health care, food security and the protection of biodiversity. At the same time, we will work together to help one another gain access to financial resources, benefit from the opening of markets, ensure capacity-building, use modern technology to bring about development and make sure that there is technology transfer, human resource development, education and training to banish underdevelopment forever.”  19: “We reaffirm our pledge to place particular focus on, and give priority attention to, the fight against the worldwide conditions that pose severe threats to the sustainable development of our people, which include: chronic hunger; malnutrition; foreign occupation; armed conflict; illicit drug problems; organized crime; corruption; natural disasters; illicit arms trafficking; trafficking in persons; terrorism; intolerance and incitement to racial, ethnic, religious and other hatreds; xenophobia; and endemic, communicable and chronic diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.”
  • 7. Milestones 4 (Rio 2012)  On 24 December 2009 the UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution agreeing to hold the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (UNCSD 2012)--also known as “Rio+20” or “Rio 20”.  The Conference has three goals: securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development; assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments; and addressing new and emerging challenges.  Two themes: The Green Economy; The Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development  In 2005 a UN conference declared a decade for water (2005-2015)
  • 8. The bottom line  Sustainable development has four pillars: 1. the environment; 2. labor; 3. governance; 4. human and community rights.  For this house to stand, it needs the foundation of a quadripartite partnership between government, business, civil society, and IOs. That is the terrain on which sustainable development must grow.  SD has a defensive side (actions we must stop committing) and a creative one (actions we need to promote—new habits)  These actors have an array of tools at their disposal to make progress on achieving SD.
  • 9. Strategies for implementing SD  Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR “Global corporate citizenship means that companies must not only be engaged with stakeholders but be stakeholders themselves alongside governments and civil society.” Klaus Schwab, Chairman, World Economic Forum (2008) “CSR is managing and shaping the total impact of business on society and the environment.”  Fair vs. sustainable trade Fairtrade certification purports to guarantee not only fair prices, but also the principles of ethical purchasing. These principles include adherence to ILO agreements such as those banning child and slave labor, guaranteeing a safe workplace and the right to unionize, a fair price that covers the cost of production and facilitates social development, and protection and conservation of the environment. The Fairtrade certification system also attempts to promote long-term business relationships between buyers and sellers, crop pre-financing, and greater transparency throughout the supply chain and more.
  • 10. Strategies 2  Public-Private Partnerships: three types—for-profit are usually aimed at developing infrastructure; pro-poor product development (bottom-of-the-pyramid investment, microfinance, micro private equity); multi-stakeholder partnerships are CSR activities where the firm lends/invests skills/staff time/technology pro bono to advance the goals of sustainable development.  Socially responsible investment (SRI) or ethical investing integrates social, environmental and governance factors in negative and sometimes positive screening strategies. Indices. Calvert.
  • 11. Links  CSR Newswire: Subscribe to their free newsletter. Very helpful!  International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD),  London-based International Business Leaders Forum:  World Business Council for Sustainable Development: (“The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development.”)  Ethical Corporation,  Business for Social Responsibility,  Brazil: Instituto Ethos  Latin America: Empresa  Business and Human Rights: look at syllabus  Foreign Policy Magazine,  Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs: