New York – The UN General Assembly on July 10 established a new High-level Political Forum, which will replace the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, to boost efforts to tackle global economic, social and environmental challenges.
In a resolution adopted by consensus, the 193-member Assembly emphasized the need for an improved and more effective institutional framework for sustainable development, and decided that the Forum should provide “a dynamic platform for regular dialogue and for stocktaking and agenda-setting to advance that process.”
The decision follows up on a key recommendation of ‘The Future We Want’, the outcome document of last year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20.
“Establishing the Forum marks a major step forward in implementing ‘The Future We Want’,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Forum can provide the political leadership and action-oriented recommendations we need to follow up on all the Rio recommendations and meet urgent global economic, social and environmental challenges. Countries must do their utmost to realize the Forum’s potential.”
The Forum will convene annually at the ministerial level under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and it will, every four years, bring together heads of State to provide added momentum for sustainable development. Its first meeting will be held in September, during the Assembly’s forthcoming 68th session.
The new body is tasked with providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development; reviewing progress in the implementation of related commitments; and enhancing integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.
“We are simply not doing enough to meet the fundamental challenges of our time: to end extreme poverty in this generation and significantly narrow the global gap between rich and poor, without inflicting irreparable damage to the environmental basis for our survival,” said General Assembly President Vuk Jeremiæ.
“The new Forum must be more than just a meeting place – it must be the place where countries and civil society generate the momentum for change.”
The Forum will replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, which was formed after the 1992 Earth Summit and helped to generate action on a range of issues that led to international agreements or treaties.
Governments and civil society actors, however, came to share a belief in recent years that a higher-profile body was needed to guide sustainable development towards ‘the future we want’.
The Assembly recommended that ECOSOC abolish the Commission upon the conclusion of its 20th session – whose timing, agenda and duration was postponed from May, pending progress on the format and organizational modalities of the Forum.