This report was written in the run-up to Rio+20, the UN conference that will revisit the outcomes of its 1992 precursor. Rio+20 aims to set the agenda for sustainable development policies in the coming decade, with its focus on a next generation of sustainable development goals, a green economy and the reform of the institutional framework for sustainable development.
In 1992, governments worldwide agreed to work towards a more sustainable development that would eradicate poverty, halt climate change and conserve ecosystems. Although progress has been made in some areas, actions have not been able to bend the trend in other, critical areas of sustainable development – areas such as those providing access to sufficient food and modern forms of energy, preventing dangerous climate change, conserving biodiversity and controlling air pollution. Without additional effort, these sustainability objectives also will not be achieved by 2050.
This report analyses how combinations of technological measures and changes in consumption patterns could contribute to achieving a set of sustainability objectives, taking into account the interlinkages between them. The potential exists for achieving all of the objectives. The fundamental question here relates to the type of governance structures that could bring about the transformative changes required to meet the sustainable development objectives. We suggest a pragmatic governance approach that consists of a shared vision for 2050, strengthened short-term targets, and strong policy actions by governments, building on the strength of civil society and business.