The UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, co-chaired by President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, submitted its report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday, 30 January 2012.
Although President Halonen is not at the Addis Ababa Summit due to being on a working visit to Estonia, she participated in the event via video.
In its report “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A future worth choosing” the Panel states that the world is on an unsustainable path. What is needed now is a new way forward that will bring equity and sustainable development into mainstream economics.
After its intensive work the Panel came up with a unanimous report that outlines the major challenges of today, while also pointing out several advances. The report contains 56 recommendations for action towards socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development.
The report states that economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability are interdependent, and that welfare depends on how well they are linked.
The Panel is convinced that the concept presented by the Brundtland Commission 25 years ago is not only sound, but now more relevant than ever. Theory must now be put into practice by moving sustainable development into mainstream economics.
According to the report, the long-term vision of the Panel is to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting planetary boundaries.
The recommendations of the Panel include the creation of a new indicator beyond GDP for measuring development. Governments should also introduce a set of sustainable development goals as a tool for stimulating action and measuring progress.
The Panel would also like the economic, social and environmental costs of action and inaction to be made transparent through the creation of price signals.
Equality is one of the main concerns of the Panel: “Any serious shift towards sustainable development requires gender equality. Half of humankind’s collective intelligence and capacity is a resource we must nurture and develop, for the sake of multiple generations to come. The next increment of global growth could well come from the full economic empowerment of women.” The promotion of equality is not only just, but also sensible for achieving sustainable welfare and stability.
In its report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the Panel presents its vision of sustainable development, and addresses the issue of sustainable development through four main themes: 1) The state of sustainable development, 2) Empowering people to make sustainable choices, 3) Working towards a sustainable economy, and 4) Strengthening institutional governance. Each section presents recommendations for action and illustrative examples. One of the examples on regional cooperation is the Baltic Sea Action Summit organised in Helsinki in 2010.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability in August 2010 and invited President Halonen to co-chair the Panel with President Zuma. In addition to the co-chairs, the Panel comprised 20 appointed members.
According to the UN press release, the report of the High-level Panel is a significant and timely contribution to preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which will be held in Brazil in June 2012..