|National Submission of the People's Republic of China on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012|
The UN Conference on Environment and Development held in 1992 was an important landmark in international development cooperation. Over the past 20 years, the international community has made much progress in promoting sustainable development and in the implementation of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (“Johannesburg Plan of Implementation”), as evidenced by the deepening of international and regional cooperation in various forms in the field of environment and development, and the births of many relevant international treaties. Developing countries have made tremendous efforts to promote sustainable development, and made some strides in poverty eradication and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). More than a hundred countries have adopted national sustainable development strategies, with active participation of the governments at various levels, the business community, NGOs and the general public. The concept of sustainable development is now accepted worldwide.
Nevertheless, the long-standing problem of lack of implementation in the field of sustainable development continues to exist; there is a huge imbalance in the economic and social development of different regions; the trend toward ecological degradation and environmental pollution has yet to be fundamentally reversed; and timely achievement of the MDGs remains a daunting task. Developing countries are confronted with difficulties such as serious shortages of finance, technology and capacity building. The international financial crisis, climate change, food and energy crises, natural disasters and a host of other challenges have added to the burden of developing countries in their efforts to pursue sustainable development.With the impact of the international financial crisis continuing to ferment and the instability and uncertainty of the world economic recovery getting more acute, the world sustainable development endeavors are faced with a more complicated situation and severe challenges.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 will provide an important opportunity for the international community to promote global cooperation in sustainable development. Amidst the difficulties encountered by the global economy and international development cooperation, Rio+20 should send a positive, clear and strong signal on reinvigorating international cooperation, integrate economic development, social progress and environmental protection, take effective measures to overcome the difficulties and problems facing developing countries, strengthen the development pillar of the United Nations, and inject new vigor and vitality into the global sustainable development agenda.
1. Prospect for the Conference
--- The Conference should encourage countries to strengthen their political will and pledge to fully implement the consensus reached during the UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002. The Conference should also make a comprehensive assessment of the progress made by the international community in sustainable development, examine the weaknesses and deficiencies, and work for new progress in international sustainable development cooperation, bearing in mind the set goals and by way of effectively dealing with new problems and new challenges, especially the practical difficulties and new challenges facing developing countries.
--- The Conference should adopt an action-oriented, pragmatic approach, and work out concrete and specific plans of implementation. In particular, it should reaffirm that developed countries should need to materialize financial support, technology transfer, capacity building and other means of implementation, and make real efforts to promote the global sustainable development agenda.
2. General principles guiding the Conference
--- Adhere to the principle of integrating the three pillars, namely, economic development, social development and environmental protection. The Conference should focus on the objectives of sustainable development, harmonize economic, social and environmental factors, and push for all-round, balanced, coordinated and sustainable development.
--- Adhere to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and other principles established during the Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro. Sustainable development is the shared responsibility and mission of the international community. International cooperation is the only way leading to sustainable development. International cooperation should be based on equality and mutual respect, take full consideration of the disparity in the stage and level of development between developing countries and developed countries, recognize the difficulties and problems plaguing developing countries, and effectively help developing countries achieve sustainable development.
--- Adhere to the principle of diversified modes of development. As countries differ in their development stages and levels as well as national conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all mode for sustainable development. It is important to respect the right of countries to choose independently their modes of sustainable development, and their own ways and paths of development suited to their national conditions, and ensure that they have enough policy space.
--- Adhere to the principle of government-driven, with broad participation of various stakeholders. In the process of promoting sustainable development, government plays an irreplaceable role. In the meantime, the extensive and in-depth participation of the civil society, private sector, business community and other major groups are also necessary.
--- Adhere to the principle of consensus. The Conference should be action-oriented and consensus-based. The principle of consensus should be fully reflected throughout the process of conference preparation and convocation, as well as negotiation of the outcome document. The views of all parties, especially those of developing countries, should be well-taken in a spirit of mutual respect, friendly consultation, seeking common ground while shelving differences, and broadening consensus.
3. Green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development
Green economy is an important instrument to achieving sustainable development. While it plays a positive role for poverty eradication and economic restructuring, it also comes with risks and challenges. Development of green economy is a long and complicated process fraught with difficulties. Developing countries, in particular, due to constraints in financing, technology and capacity building, are faced with many practical difficulties in developing green economy. The international community needs to strengthen cooperation, maximize benefits while mitigating risks, and truly address the concerns of developing countries.
--- The primary goal of developing green economy is poverty eradication. The issue of poverty bears on the rights to subsistence and development, which are essential to the people in developing countries. Poverty eradication is something that developing countries consider first and foremost when it comes to development of green economy. It should also serve as an important benchmark for formulation and implementation of policies on green economy.
--- Many developing countries are now experiencing rapid industrialization and urbanization. They are both faced with the daunting task of eradicating poverty, adjusting economic structure and transitioning to a green economy, and constrained by energy, resources and environmental factors. The success of green economy in these countries figures prominently in global sustainable development, and merits the understanding and support of the international community.
--- The international community should provide an enabling environment for the development of developing countries. It should oppose various forms of trade protectionism in the name of green economy, or making assistance conditional to the development of green economy.
--- Developed countries should take the lead in changing their unsustainable ways of production, living and consumption, embark on the path of green development, and set a good example for developing countries. In the meantime, they should make vigorous efforts to help developing countries in their efforts to develop green economy, including provision of finance, transfer of technology, capacity building, and expansion of market access. Developing countries should formulate and implement sustainable development strategies suited to their national conditions.
--- In developing green economy, countries need to draw up comprehensive jobs plans supplemented by effective social security measures to secure a decent job and stable source of income for everyone and basic living necessities for the general public, especially the vulnerable groups. The international community should assist developing countries in providing educational courses and vocational training, and reduce the social cost and compensate for developing countries during their transition to green economy.
4. Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development
To effectively promote the institutional framework of sustainable development creates favorable conditions for full implementation of Agenda 21 and JPOI, and addressing various new challenges. The institutional framework should help strike a balance between economic growth, social development and environmental protection, help increase the voice and participation of developing countries in the decision making process, and help resolve the actual difficulties of developing countries in areas such as financing, technology and capacity building.
--- It is necessary to give full play to the core leadership and coordinating role of the United Nations. The functions of the United Nations to provide policy guidance and coordination should be strengthened so as to guide, coordinate and harmonize the actions of relevant agencies, multilateral institutions and treaty bodies and engage them in the process of sustainable development.
--- The role of ECOSOC, Commission on Sustainable Development and relevant UN specialized agencies in sustainable development should be strengthened to enhance the role of the United Nations in this area and push for implementation of Agenda 21 and JPOI
--- The important role of UNEP in global environmental governance should be fully tapped, and financial and technical support to UNEP increased. Parties should seek consensus on the new functions and mandate of UNEP through thorough discussions.
--- The international financial institutions, the WTO and multilateral development banks should incorporate sustainable development into their plans and programs and work in coordination with the relevant UN agencies to form synergy and strike a greater balance between the environment and development.
--- Agenda 21 should serve as a basic framework to comprehensively strengthen governance at the international, regional, national and local levels. Countries should be encouraged to formulate comprehensive strategies, strengthen coordination among government departments, mobilize social participation and improve their capacity of implementation.