After having enjoyed the impressive view over the East River from the United Nations cafeteria during lunch, our delegation was invited to take a seat in the briefing room of the Headquarters’ public affairs staff, which looked like an ordinary class room, equipped with tiny seats and a blackboard.
The next briefing was on Sustainable Development. Due to the profound expertise of our speaker, Ms. Hiroko Morita-Lou, employed in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development (DSD), we heard an exceptional introduction to this topic, which is highly relevant to the United Nations.
As the secretariat to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the DSD is located in New York. In order to promote sustainable development, i.e. a process that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (according to the UN Brundtland Report 1987), the CSD administrates technical cooperation and capacity-building at the regional, national and international level. Created in 1992 at the Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (which declared the so- called Agenda 21 and the Rio Principles) the CSD has worked towards further steps, for example the 1994 Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in Bridgetown, the 1997 Earth Summit +5 in New York, the 2002 World Summit in Johannesburg and the 2005 adoption of the Mauritius Strategy. In a two-year cycle of review and policy, the Division monitors and reports on the implementation of these milestones. Ms. Morita-Lou has been involved in formulating the multi-year Programme of Work which extends from 2004 to 2017, and which is organized around clusters of issues.
Ms. Morita-Lou said that during 20 years of work for the United Nations, she has experienced a gap between theory and practice in the field of development. As editor-in-chief of the journal “Natural Resources Forum”, she was familiar with both sides. From this perspective, she highlighted the importance of the integration of different, interdisciplinary factors. In that context, she also referred to the 2005 World Summit’s emphasis on “the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development. According to Ms. Morita-Lou, a successful concept of development initiatives has to consider three dimensions, namely environmental protection as well as economic and social development.
Moreover, she outlined the background of the “partnerships for sustainable development”, as they were defined at the World Summit of Sustainable Development 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Those include more than 200 registered voluntary, multi-stakeholder, and public-private initiatives, supporting the implementation of internationally agreed sustainable development goals.
Another crucial element in this process is the broad participation of civil society, which our speaker emphasized as one of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development.
After our numerous questions, Ms. Morita-Lou told us about the possibility of a two-month internship at the CSD. She received a lot of applause for her presentation on this important issues – but also for having pointed out career opportunities.