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Consultation Team
on Thu, July 11, 2013 at 02.49 pm

Final Report for Comment: Environmental Sustainability Consultation (July 11-26)

We are pleased to share the draft report of the global consultation on environmental sustainability in the post-2015 development agenda. The draft aims to capture the essence and key points of this 6-month consultation process, including: the 90 discussion notes submitted by organizations and individuals, the breadth of voices from the leadership meeting in Costa Rica and the over 1,100 comments posted in the online discussions. The final version of this report will serve as an input to the inter-governmental debates on this topic, starting with the 2013 UN General Assembly (GA) and the high level summit to review progress on the MDGs.

As a final stage in this global consultation, this draft report is presented by the co-chairs for public comment.  The feedback and endorsement of participants is an essential step to ensure the report is a faithful representation of the discussions. To this end we invite you to: 

  1. Comment on the draft –You are invited to comment on this draft. Kindly indicate whether you think it accurately reflects the consultation outcomes.  Also identify any inaccuracies or major points that were not sufficiently covered in this report.
  2. Share your stories - You are also invited to share examples and stories from your personal experience that would help to demonstrate and strengthen the key messages in the final report.
  3. Take these results forward – do you have suggestions on how this consultation report should be used to get impact – ie- specific meetings or events where it should be positioned? Also please tell us how will you use the report in your country, your work, etc to ensure this provides an input to the inter-governmental process?
Please login to post your comments below between July 11-26 Click here to download the report


Please note: If you have new research or updates to share that are relevant to the topic but that are not a direct comments on the report, you are invited to:

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LuckyGirl from
Wed, December 10, 2014 at 07.05 am
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Tue, July 30, 2013 at 03.25 pm
Comments on the draft final report
“The Global Thematic Consultation on Environmental Sustainability in the post-2015 Development Agenda”

General comments

The Secretariat of the CBD wishes to first and foremost convey its appreciation for having been provided the opportunity to comment on this important report. The report provides a usefully summary and analysis of the key messages emerging from the thematic consultation on environmental sustainability. This report will certainly provide a useful contribution to the ongoing inter-governmental processes as it contains concrete proposals as to how environmental sustainability can be better integrated and placed at heart of discussions on sustainable development goals and those related to the post-2015 agenda. It also reflects some key aspects:

(1) the integration of environmental dimensions into overarching goals such as poverty eradication, and food and water security,
(2) a stand alone goal on healthy and productive ecosystems, as well as
(3) the importance of an enabling framework, in particular “transformational change” and changes in accounting for growth.

Perhaps the importance of environmental sustainability for next generations needs to be reinforced. The challenge is that, in order to prevent irreversible damage and preserve the needs of future generation, one has to develop anticipatory and forward-looking strategies which will be able to consider the evolutionary dynamics of ecosystems which are more than ever in constant interaction with socio-economic activities in the process of transformation and intensification, exposing them to new and growing pressures.

The following provides some views from the biodiversity standpoint that further substantiate and illustrate some of the proposals and points raised in the report.

The needs of future generations can only be met if human activities take place within limits, at all scales including the so called "planetary boundaries", thereby ensuring the continued functioning of earth system and avoiding tipping points. Relevant in this context, the vision of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 reads: "Living in Harmony with Nature" where "By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people", with the mission to "take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet's variety of life, and contributing to human well-being, and poverty eradication.

Significance of the Strategic Plan and its Aichi Targets

The section in the report entitled “ A universal agenda that reflects different realities and operates within planetary boundaries ( Page 11 ) reiterates the views above as it contains a brief reference to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. In that section, it is specifically stated that “ A number of examples on how to bring about this change were shared during the consultation, demonstrating that there is an existing base of evidence, knowledge and capacity that can be built upon to ensure the future people want is within reach. Experiences from the global level (e.g. the MDGs, the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets). This reference could be further elaborated and in fact substantiated using the following points:

• The adoption of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Targets is a major milestone as it sets a challenging and ambitious vision that biodiversity is fully valued and integrated into national decision-making, and that concrete actions are taken to reverse biodiversity loss during this decade
• It has been recognized that one of the main reasons that the global community failed to achieve the previous target of reducing biodiversity loss was that there has been insufficient integration of biodiversity issues into broader policies, strategies, programmes, and actions, including decision-making in economic sectors – essentially an absence of what we call the ‘mainstreaming’ of biodiversity. As a consequence, the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss were neither adequately addressed nor significantly reduced. Against this background, the Strategic Plan and its Aichi Targets offer new opportunities going forward.
• See also below a point as to the relevance and importance accorded to the Strategic Plan in Rio+20 framework document, “The Future We Want”.

Mainstreaming biodiversity- Looking at biodiversity as a solution rather than a problem….

On page 9 of the report it is accurately pointed out that “Other multilateral global agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have also learnt from this detrimental compartmentalization of the environment: in its 2011-2020 Aichi Action Plan, the CBD included 20 targets that consider explicitly the need to reduce direct pressures on biodiversity and to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across all sectors of government and society.” (Convention on Biological Diversity). This is an accurate observation that could be further elaborated and fleshed out using the following points:

• Biodiversity should not be perceived only as a problem, but rather as an asset to be leveraged on because of the multiple direct benefits and co-benefits that it generates to facilitate sustainable development. This ostensibly means that we have to see biodiversity as a crucial asset, which underpins sustainable development and is closely linked to many social and economic issues.
• The United Nations Rio + 20 common vision of « the Future We Want » indeed reiterated this view by recognizing that biodiversity plays a critical role in maintaining ecosystems that provide essential services, which are the foundation of human wellbeing and underpin our efforts to eradicate poverty.
• Moving into a “green economy” require among other things the recognition of the role that biodiversity and ecosystems play in economic affairs. Biodiversity in all three of its components: genes, species and ecosystems is now widely recognized as the suppliers of essential services to humanity, requiring their conservation, protection and inclusion in economic policies. It can thus be easily argued that biodiversity is the foundation of ‘green’ in green economy. If the economic system is not based/premised on the conservation of biodiversity for both people and nature, then it cannot be considered ‘green’.

The points above further substantiate a point raised in the paper to the effect that “ natural capital has been greatly undervalued and consequently used unsustainably. A continued focus on economic growth, it was noted, as measured by GDP will no longer support the changes that are needed to foster environmental sustainability. Current economic models that focus on growth, consumption and production, were recognized as generating environmental externalities which not only impact on environmental sustainability, but ultimately threaten the very foundations of that same growth led economic model.” (page 19 of the report).
Helene Finidori Systems thinking, collaboration processes , transformative action admin. of from France
Mon, July 29, 2013 at 07.04 am
Thank you for this report and for giving us the opportunity for feedback.

The report focuses a lot on integration and interlinkage between environmental sustainability, the economy and society, and between the various issues at stake. It links environmental sustainability to human development through building capacity and resilience and to well-being. It calls for institutions providing enabling environments for multi-stakeholder and multilevel governance and for transformative action engaging people on the ground. It calls for a regulatory frameworks setting acceptable standards. This is all to salute.

The report and endeavor would greatly benefit from a strategy that could help achieve this systemic 'synthesis'. A strategy that would "aggregate coherence" from a variety of disparate efforts and agendas.

I suggest that a strategic approach based on the principles and processes of the commons as scaffold and meta-narrative could provide a robust underpinning for transformative action. Some argumentation is available here:

The commons are a social system that intimately associates people or stakeholders with their resources and the participatory and mindful ways they are managing/producing/caring for them. Commons can be described in a variety of ways and along several dimensions. The three below function together as a whole:

• As object, the commons are the Common Wealth, the assets that we inherit or create, use and change, and that serve our livelihood (our natural, social and cultural resources, genetic and biological diversity, knowledge, etc), that people pass on to future generations. These assets need to be nurtured, (re)generated and to be indiscriminately accessible to the greatest number. They must therefore be protected against capture, over-exploitation, depletion and abuse.
• As practice, the commons are the Common Ethos of which people are an integral part; the culture and the relationships they build with each other, with their resources and with the earth, the ways of being and doing in common (caring, sharing, nurturing, replenishing our common assets with discernment, transparency, empathy, equity, justice, mindfulness…). This practice critically depends on sustained and adaptive know-how, on increased knowledge flows, and continuous collaboration and learning including ways of working together on problem solving. This practice takes multiple forms and names. Sustainable living and development is one of them.
• As result, the commons are the Common Good, the outcomes of the practice (access, capacity, well being, quality of life, prosperity, abundance). They are the life blood of the process, those that make the world thrive, and become in turn assets to nurture…

Because of the relationships and interactions between these various elements, the commons are generative systems, which provide the tangible conditions that empower and enable communities in relation to their purpose and to the ecological contexts they find themselves in, at various levels and scales. So we are really addressing here the major endeavors of the report.

From this perspective, commons may serve as a medium for accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices that address social, environmental and economic dimensions in a cohesive and interconnected manner. Thus they help achieve sustainable development goals in a sustainable and robust manner.

Commons, open access resources, public domain must be protected.
Today, organizations and in particular corporations in the private sector have multiple ways of protecting themselves against risks, depletion or abuse of their own assets, and of making provisions for regenerating their assets, or measuring and improving their intangible outputs…

Some of this has been secured through enclosure and appropriation of the commons or public domain assets as a means to maximize profit and capture value added and by transferring (externalizing) part of their risks and costs to society.

The commons for their part, have had little means of protection and securing risks, assets and means of governance. In particular, public domain or open access resources are increasingly being privatized in order to have an 'owner' rather than be left to 'mismanagement' by the public sector or abuse by free riders -aka tragedy of the commons. This has had a devastating effect on access to resources and livelihoods of the poorest.

In particular when corporation start getting involved in sustainability discussions, we need some criteria for knowing where to go. What could distinguish genuinely effective sustainability policies and practices from what is regularly been decried as business as usual or greenwashing? What could prevent sustainability initiatives or sustainability goals and policies to be either looked at suspiciously or considered as the silver bullet that will solve everything without any actual way to discriminate between the two?

The commons can be this connecting point between all issues and efforts and serve as a 'vetting' system, the 'standard' called for in the report. The fine line has to do with whether and how an activity protects and nurtures the commons and public domain, the relationships and practices as part of an ecosystem and the outcomes thereof, which as living system give some materiality to the interconnections between the social, the economic and the environment.
Because of their inherently fragile and exposed nature and their strong connections to human rights, the commons address many of these issues, and in all their dimensions they must be protected. It is important that the principles and provisions for the commons, associating common assets, people and the modalities for taking care of the assets in an open and transparent way come to mind when creating policy and making tradeoffs in negotiations. Creating institutions to defend the commons and inscribing the principles of the commons in constitutions and law to protect the public domain would be ideal to bring to life the ideas put forward in the report.

Below are a few provisions and principles related to the commons that could help design and assess sustainability initiatives, mechanisms and policies. They must be seen as a whole and be monitored in relation to one another.

1. Non discriminatory access to resources
2. People involved directly must participate in their own destiny and the decision making process
3. Non discriminatory access to knowledge and right to share
4. Those who take from the commons must contribute to the commons.
5. Economics, finance, development funds must concentrate on growing the commons. Growth that depletes the commons must be stopped
6. Focus on needs, use value and regenerative models rather than on exchange value and material flows
7. Monitoring at the system level: Triple monitoring of status of an asset, usage of a practice AND resulting outcome

These are detailed further in the following article:
Natalia Kostus Natalia Kostus, Representative to the United Nations, International Alliance of Women from United States of America
Sat, July 27, 2013 at 08.19 am
Thank you for the draft report. It provides a valuable synthesis of the most important points from the discussions and accurately reflects the consultation outcomes. The report is especially successful in integrating environmental sustainability and human development, including human rights, equality, and poverty eradication. It is an important contribution to the post-2015 development agenda process. We appreciate the inclusion of IAW contribution on gender equality and especially the references to women decision makers, as well as, reproductive rights and health.

One aspect that could be strengthened is women as agents of change perspective and not only women as a minority and a vulnerable group. While gender continues to be one of the world’s strongest markers for disadvantage and one of the deepest and most pervasive of all inequalities; women are powerful agents of change. Women compose roughly 50% of the population and are also parents, educators, farmers, innovators, leaders, and organizers, and could be instrumental advancing the environmental sustainability agenda.
Hunter Lovins from United States of America
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 10.02 pm
This is good. Well done.

The energy, food, water security nexus is missing from the sector on Integration (Pg 5 et seq). It's understandable that the focus keeps returning to poverty reduction (this is the UN, UNDP at that, and poverty was the MDG focus), but in terms of achieving environmental sustainability, getting the energy, food, water nexus handled, especially in the "over-developed" world will do more for the environment, and, as is well stated on pg 6, more for alleviating poverty - the two DO go together. A number of interrelationships were mentioned, but ensuring people's security around energy, food, and water is critically important.

The business case was vaguely referred to, but is missing in any specificity, and will be key to implementation: behaving more sustainably IS better business, especially if the subsidies, politics and institutions of the old way of doing business are recognized and cleared. I would emphasize identifying the barriers that now exist and clearing them. But more fundamentally, any real progress will depend on the involvement of the business sector. Governments are in gridlock, and paralyzed by implementing austerity to try to forestall the present and looming financial crisis. The work of folk like John Fullerton at the Capital Institute on transforming finance so that investments start being made in transitioning to a sustainable economy is key, and missing.

Were it me, I'd move the paragraph at the bottom of Pg 11 up to the very front. It nicely encapsulates what the report is trying to say. I'd perhaps move up the whole next section on the need for transformational change. It is buried where it is. The supporting material is not equal to the assertion of the need, tho. The real point is that absent transformation, we're screwed. We're losing every major ecosystem, we've exceeded the planetary boundaries, the odds of ever more severe financial collapses are rising, climate devastation is worsening.... Business as usual is the radical perspective. The world is going to experience profound transformations. the question is whether they will be done by choice and in a thoughtful manner or in reaction to mounting crises.

Ditto with the material on economic transformation. I'd put this right up front. I'm puzzled, tho, by the statement that some felt that the Green Economy did not resonate. You might want to say more, as UNEP is pretty attached to that idea. Precisely what was it about that that people didn't like? And who didn't like it? I heard none of that in Costa Rica, or in the on-line conversation. If this blanket assertion is to remain, it'd be helpful to know how that term was defined, and what it was about it that bothered people.

On pg 19 several things are troubling. The quote lumps in free markets and the growth model of development. These are two separate things. I could go into a tedious argument that we don't HAVE a free market, and that if we did, it would solve most of the problems people are concerned about, But what really matters is that the report not damn all market-based solutions with a carelessly phrased quote.

Similarly, "green accounting" is not the same as using an Integrated Bottom Line. I'm not sure what "green accounting" is, but it might be more productive to refer to the various efforts (GRI 4, IIRC, SASB, etc) now under way to account both for the harm currently being done more accurately and begin to recognize the value to companies, communities and countries that behaving in more sustainable ways confers. (See our report Sustainability Pays:

The whole concept of Natural Capitalism got dropped: start with dramatic increases in efficiency because this is profitable now and it buys time to implement more profoundly sustainable measures. But that's all it does, and by itself is insufficient. Second: redesign how we make and deliver all goods and services, using such approaches as biomimicry, and Stahel's circular economy and cradle to cradle concepts. The whole realm of radically sustainable manufacturing that we presented to UNIDO is part of this. Then third: manage all institutions to be restorative of human and natural capital, the forms of capital that we have been liquidating, but without which there is no basis for a prosperous economy. This staged approach offers an arc of transition, and is the path that the smart companies are already following.

It also offers a much broader tool kit than simply increasing governmental regulation - bottom of pg 20. We've tried that approach. It's failed.

A resilient society - bottom of pg 21 - is a lot more than a healthy environment providing services, as useful as that is. Resilience is the ability of a system to withstand an unpredicted shock, learn from it, and become stronger and more able to withstand other shocks. It is what Nessim Taleb is talking about in his new book Anti-fragile. it's very important, but not what is described here. Resilient systems have a whole set of criteria, which we laid out in the book Brittle Power back in 1981. They are, by the way, some of the attributes that a green economy provides: diverse, distributed, renewable, modular....

The quote by Ralph Femmer, while very cool, clashes with the next paragraph, placed where it is. If these quotes will be in call-out boxes, bueno, but if they are integrated into the text as formatted here, this placement leads to confusion.

Middle of pg 22, the statement "And though the purpose of this consultation was never to shape future goals (targets and indicators), inputs received through the consultation are believed to lay the ground for the integration of environmental dimensions as a cross-cutting issue and as a stand-alone goal." is opaque. Who believes this and why do we care? Cross-cutting and stand-alone? Huh? The final statements with attributions read like they just got stashed there.

I'd tighten up the last two paragraphs. Just as a gymnast needs to stick the landing, it's good to stick the ending of a report:

"The conversation that resulted in this report was rich and useful. It should continue, engaging the creativity and collective intellect of people from around the world to articulate the most significant goals, smartest targets and accurate indicators. Such issues as the common but differentiated responsibility of states, issues of funding and means of implementation, the role and impact of trade, financial markets and others all need further discussion and clarification before a comprehensive agenda can be identified. These are daunting challenges.

The process has made clear, however, that governments can count on civil society to be an active partner in shaping and implementing the post-2015 development agenda. The process elicited unprecedented levels of participation in the ‘World We Want’ consultations. People from around the globe want to work alongside governments to make the post-2015 agenda reflective of their needs and aspirations. Participants from around the world are asking for this agenda to be universal, ambitious and truly transformational, placing people and the planet at the heart of development policy."

I salute this historic undertaking and achievement,. It is one of which you should be very proud.
BlindSpot Think Tank
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 05.59 pm
I applaud the hard work, sincerity and admirable values reflected in every word of this report. Furthermore I challenge the UN and civil society to observe that this report does not really stand out among numerous others over the 41 year long history of international environmental discussion. Reports-as-usual is not good enough. Taking account of the 'last-minute before collapse' urgency of the issues I call on this report to go much further by:

Firstly to take the opportunity of the historical failure of international environmental governance to think deeply about what keeps going wrong, to explicitly say what you think and and to attempt something distinctively new based on new thinking. What is it about the way that civil society agendas are presented that makes them perennially self-defeating? For example what about the psychology of offering constraints within limits versus offering an expansive vision that would create the same real-world outcome?

Secondly to make productive use of all the expressions of positive values by connecting them to tangible clearly defined policy mechanisms - so the values can turn from wishes to realities. For example the debate on economic growth predates the entire environmental movement so it's not good enough to still have no answers. We should not still conflate the financial measure of GDP with physical measures of resources and impacts. We should not still omit the central role of pricing for the prevention of externalities, which decides whether or not growth runs in destruct-mode.

Thirdly to benefit from the observation, made on the first day of the first international environmental gathering - and repeated every day since, that all the issues are interconnected and indivisible. This is the big ridiculous blindspot of global change, that we acknowledge interconnectedness and then manage issues separately. Continued efforts at incremental change in issue silos can only follow the path of decades of unsustainability to its abrupt and messy end. Any serious change effort must seek change of the global whole system as a whole. This can be done anytime - so let's do it!

I hope this can be of use. For further thoughts please get in touch or see my Rio+20 submission,
The Population and Sustainable Development Alliance (PSDA)
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 12.01 pm
Response from the Population and Sustainable Development Alliance (PSDA):

The Population and Sustainable Development Alliance (PSDA) welcomes the draft final report of the global thematic consultation on environmental sustainability in the post-2015 agenda, and endorse the call to place environmental sustainability at the heart of the development agenda, with a focus on human rights and equality in order to achieve human health well-being within planetary boundaries.

As noted in the report, many contributions to the consultation focused on population dynamics, and we are particularly pleased that the report recognizes the relevance of population dynamics to environmental sustainability, and the importance of realizing reproductive rights, including access to quality sexual and reproductive health services. Empowering women and couples to choose the number, timing and spacing of their children is not only critical for women’s health and human rights, but is also necessary for addressing population dynamics in ways that respect and protect human rights.

On these issues, we fully support the acknowledgements in the report relating to the importance of “recogniz[ing] women’s reproductive rights and universal access to quality reproductive health services” and “taking into account population dynamics - including population size, growth, urbanization, ageing and migration.” Yet we are concerned that these important points will be overlooked as they are not included as concrete recommendations in the final section of the report looking at what the conclusions of the consultation mean for the post-2015 development agenda. In particular, given the importance of health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, for empowerment, it would be beneficial if the ‘Local action and empowerment’ section included a recommendation relating to universal access to health services, including to rights-based sexual and reproductive health services. Furthermore, recommendations about taking into account population dynamics, including through the use of population data as part of environmental and wider sustainable development planning, should be incorporated into the sections and recommendations on ‘Governance and accountability.’ We provide specific recommendations addressing these points below.

Population and Sustainable Development Alliance recommendations for advancing sustainable development through a focus on population dynamics and sexual and reproductive health and rights:

• Prioritize universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including voluntary family planning, as part of a goal on health: Address population dynamics in ways that respect and protect human rights and prioritize the unfinished business of MDG 5 and the full implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

• Devise forward-looking goals: Goals, targets and indicators must be forward-looking, based on projected changes in population size, location and age structures which influence demand for and supply of key resources and services.

• Sectoral planning should utilize population data: Planning for water and sanitation facilities, food security, health and education services etc., and overall development strategies, must be informed by systematic use of population data and projections.

• Use population data to address inequalities: Monitoring and reporting mechanisms should use data and indicators disaggregated by sex, age, rural/urban location, educational background and economic quintile, helping development goals benefit all.

• Invest in the cross-cutting issues of health, education, gender equality, empowerment of youth and human rights: These critical investments offer opportunities to improve human health and well-being and advance each of the three dimensions of sustainable development.
Christian Aid
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 10.12 am
Need for greater urgency on natural resources and climate change:
Environmental sustainability must be central to the post-2015 development framework. This paper repeatedly expresses the need for integration of environmental sustainability into human development and for a transformative change in our economy, but the paper gives no sense of the urgency of our environmental crisis.

It is essential to be very clear on the outcomes required in the next 20 year from taking environmental sustainability on board it is difficult to see the transformation that is really required. The term staying within ‘planetary boundaries’ is very useful as a catch all, but it is essential to detail the scale of the challenge to protect and well mange our resources – forests, marine life, agricultural land, water, air free from pollution. Without this the term ‘transformation’ has no real meaning. Similarly the term ‘resilience in the face of tomorrow’s stresses’ under plays the urgency and is not explained well in the context of the increasing environmental and climate threat.

The challenge of climate change is given very brief mention given the enormity of the threat. In particular there is no mention of the need for rapid reduction in carbon emissions to prevent the worst of climate change, requiring a rapid move away from a fossil fuel dependent economy and a rapid reduction in deforestation and land use change.

With current economic trends in carbon emissions it is estimated that global warming will go well beyond 2oC and therefore there needs to be far more attention in the paper to the need to adapt to climate change, both for communities and economies. It is disappointing that the paper does not acknowledge the need for increase disaster risk reduction and building of resilience directly resulting from a changing climate.

Welcome focus on inequality:
It is welcome to see the emphasis on inequality as a source of environmental crisis; focusing on the over consumption to deliver economic growth as well as the lack of rights and access for the poorest. The recognition of the need for better governance of resources and particularly people’s rights to their own resources and their involvement in decision making is clearly important. Also the focus on transparency or private sector and government is essential.

Clear recommendations needed:
What the paper is missing, and what the UN task team will need to ensure the contributions from this extensive consultation are acted on, is a clear set of recommendations. It would be most useful if the authors can synthesise the key points throughout the report into clear recommendation for the task teams to take forwards in the future development of the post-2015 process.
Christian Aid
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 10.15 am
Need for greater urgency on natural resources and climate change:
Environmental sustainability must be central to the post-2015 development framework. This paper repeatedly expresses the need for integration of environmental sustainability into human development and for a transformative change in our economy, but the paper gives no sense of the urgency of our environmental crisis.

It is essential to be very clear on the outcomes required in the next 20 year from taking environmental sustainability on board, otherwise it is difficult to see the transformation that is really required. The term staying within ‘planetary boundaries’ is very useful as a catch all, but it is essential to detail the scale of the challenge to protect and well mange our resources – forests, marine life, agricultural land, water, air free from pollution. Without this the term ‘transformation’ has no real meaning. Similarly the term ‘resilience in the face of tomorrow’s stresses’ under plays the urgency and is not explained well in the context of the increasing environmental and climate threat.

The challenge of climate change is given very brief mention given the enormity of the threat. In particular there is no mention of the need for rapid reduction in carbon emissions to prevent the worst of climate change, requiring a rapid move away from a fossil fuel dependent economy and a rapid reduction in deforestation and land use change.

With current economic trends in carbon emissions it is estimated that global warming will go well beyond 2oC and therefore there needs to be far more attention in the paper to the need to adapt to climate change, both for communities and economies. It is disappointing that the paper does not acknowledge the need for increase disaster risk reduction and building of resilience directly resulting from a changing climate.

Welcome focus on inequality:
It is welcome to see the emphasis on inequality as a source of environmental crisis; focusing on the over consumption to deliver economic growth as well as the lack of rights and access for the poorest. The recognition of the need for better governance of resources and particularly people’s rights to their own resources and their involvement in decision making is clearly important. Also the focus on transparency or private sector and government is essential.

Clear recommendations needed:
What the paper is missing, and what the UN task team will need to ensure the contributions from this extensive consultation are acted on, is a clear set of recommendations. It would be most useful if the authors can synthesise the key points throughout the report into clear recommendation for the task teams to take forwards in the future development of the post-2015 process.
WWF International
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 08.54 am
Thank you for the draft document. It is well written and provides a good synthesis of the discussions, points where there is consensus and issues requiring more consideration.

We had just a two comments:
· We appreciate your inclusion of WWF’s vision, however a small, but crucial bit was left out: it should read “humans living in harmony with nature”. Thank you for correcting that.

· There are a number of important themes, such as water and energy security, that were not addressed in depth in the ES consultation likely because there were parallel consultations on those and other themes. It would be important for readers unfamiliar with the thematic consultation process to know that these issues are treated in depth elsewhere. Seems we can’t quite escape the old silos!
Sonia Programme Officer from Peru
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 08.46 am
Thank you for providing the opportunity to provide comments to this important document. It is a great effort.

Please find below my general comments to the 'Global Thematic Consultation on Environmental Sustainability':
1. In general I think it would be helpful to include more definitions in the report, for example quoting Brundtland's 'sustainable development' definition or others and defining 'sustainability' as well.
2. Another comment I have concerns the use of the term 'environmental sustainability'. To me this is very confusing and conflicting/contradicting. I see sustainability/sustainable development as a concept, which is generally defined by or based on at least three pillars: environment, economic and social. Therefore I see environment as a dimension of sustainability and found it very difficult to understand the concept/meaning behind 'environmental sustainability' which is addressing only one pillar. As a reader, I would have preferred a different term, e.g. the environmental dimension of sustainability (for example), or if the authors use 'environmental sustainability', then I think it would be useful to the reader to have this term/concept defined in the report.

3. I think the report brings about many interesting interlinkages between environment and, e.g., poverty, equality, etc. However, I found that many aspects, many interlinkages and many concepts were introduced and discussed, and overall I found the structure a bit confusing and I feel some lack of structure (e.g. clear headings, etc.) which did not do justice to the different aspects brought forth in the consultation. I think a clear structure could really bring out the key principles, drivers and interrelations and highlight this more easily to the reader. For example, there was a really interesting section on the MDGs, what went wrong, what needs to change, etc., but I feel that clear and distinct headings could provide more emphasis.

4. As notes to the reader it would be also good to introduce a clear rationale to the consultation, the background, who the audience is, where the '5,000' input comments came from, etc. I think that these are very interesting elements that are missing in the document and could help enormously the reader better understand the relevance of the results. The invitation e-mail below explains this quite clearly and I think it would benefit the reader if this is included in the report itself.

5. Moreover, I would like to inform you about a related publication had been released in 2012 ‘Towards a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment’ which addresses the sustainability assessment aspects from a methodological point of view and provides a review of existing ISO conform techniques and examples worldwide. It also elaborates on how the results of social life cycle assessments feed and interlink with the results of an environmental assessment, for example. The team working on the report might find interesting to see the different current approaches that exist when addressing the sustainability aspects of products and organizations (find it here:

I hope these comments are useful at the point in time,

Best regards,

Geremew Sahilu Gebrie Geremew Sahilu Gebrie (PhD) from Ethiopia
Fri, July 26, 2013 at 05.53 am
This is a correction to item 1) line 3 of my comment yesterday. The statement should read:
"A system can not be stationary but the change or dynamism should be sustainable through time" (The major correction is an editorial error "not" between "should and be" is cancelled)
Kambing Bakar from
Tue, December 2, 2014 at 05.30 am
Geremew Sahilu Gebrie Geremew Sahilu Gebrie (PhD) from Ethiopia
Thu, July 25, 2013 at 03.44 pm
Dear Editors,

I highly appreciate your hard work in compiling the Draft Final Report on the Global Thematic Consultation on Environmental Sustainability in the post-2015 Development Agenda. It is well done but I would like to suggest the following comment which I think should be included.

1) All what is discussed in the draft final report forms the Global System which is dynamic with regard to environmental sustainability. In a system it is clear if one lags the other will be affected. A system can not be stationery but the change or dynamism should not also be sustainable in time. Thus one should consider everything not only the natural environment but also the political, social, economic as part of an environmental system acknowledging natural environment provides the resource. What should be clear is that there is a Global System which has key components that are interdependent on each other may be one component like the economic drive dominating all the others. The question is that when we talk of environmental sustainability, what is important is an environmental system which is dynamic but sustainable. A system which keeps its balance not being dominated by only one of its component.

2) Considering this approach, which is a system dynamics approach or philosophy that shows the danger the world going at in the 1970s , Post-2015 Development Agenda should base itself considering sustainability not at one cross-section in time or in one aspect of development but dynamic sustainability which ensures all round sustainability through time.

3) Thus, having carried out a research utilizing this approach in one aspect of MDG 7 - Water Supply and Sanitation, I strongly recommend this concept be included as a general approach to save guard the Global System.
Soka Gakkai International
Thu, July 25, 2013 at 03.16 pm
I am delighted to find education well mentioned in this report.
It is a brief request, but I would appreciate it if my organization's name be added after my own name in p.17 because it reflects our internal discussion.
Lal Manavado Analyst from Norway
Fri, July 19, 2013 at 08.41 am
Importance of delegating responsibility for our habitat to those affected most by changes in it.

This is too obvious for elaboration. Moreover, it is just.

The report could have emphasised more the vital importance of our environment for our survival, not to mention the possibility of living as civilised sentient beings.

Then, it ought to have underlined in unequivocal terms that those who are going to be directly affected by adverse changes in our habitat should be delegated its guardianship. This may be local, regional and global.

Then, it might have described how one may become an effective guardian of one's environment, and what is needed to achieve that objective. This 'how' and 'what is needed' show local, regional and global variations in range and scope.

It is difficult to envisage what contribution exploiters of the environment such as traders can make, be they street hawkers or multinational concerns, except by making voluntary contributions to regenerate degraded environment and to observe a code of behaviour that does not entail destruction of our habitat.

As I have said earlier, it is not difficult at all to identify and describe environmentally benign ways of ensuring human well being, if we are willing to discard the reductivist notion of development and growth measured in dollars, and adopt a holistic one that ascertains them in terms of one's ability to enjoy the social goods one's culture could offer.

Indeed, interactions among entities is continuous, and the their configuration at a given locus at a given time, may defy prediction. But, this does not affect our ability to determine reasonable ways of using mineral and living resources. After all, we successfully use good old Newtonian Physics in the design of space craft, and leave Quantum Physics to those who are working with particle accelerators.

Let us move away from Jargon, but state our case briefly and lucidly.

Lal Manavado.
Claudia Valeria Silva Logistics, Marketing & Business Plan from Italy
Thu, July 18, 2013 at 09.09 am
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi.

If we really want to reduce the human impact on the environment, the simplest and cheapest thing anyone can do is to eat less meat. Behind most of the joints of beef or chicken on our plates is a phenomenally wasteful, land- and energy-hungry system of farming that devastates forests, pollutes oceans, rivers, seas and air, depends on oil and coal, and is significantly responsible for climate change.

The way we breed animals is now recognised by the UN, scientists, economists and politicians as giving rise to many interlinked human and ecological problems, but with 1 billion people already not having enough to eat and 3 billion more mouths to feed within 50 years, the urgency to rethink our relationship with animals is extreme.

This awareness should lead us to understand that eating less meat, or better not eat it at all, is not only a sign of respect for animals is a social choice. A solidarity choice for people who are hungry and for the future of the planet. So, it is time to Promote Vegetarianism.
Bill Jacobs from United States of America
Wed, July 17, 2013 at 02.40 am
I'm not sure where to begin, and I'd like to be brief. Given the universal scope and magnitude of the agenda addressed in the report, and claims about unprecedented engagement, I see no mention of some key words and ideas that are very important to many people, for example: God, Creator, creation, authentic development (vs. simply sustainable development), common good, subsidiarity, natural rights, unalienable or inalienable rights, natural family planning, and respect for human life from conception to natural death. There is no good justification for secularists to get everything they want, and people of faith in God to get little or nothing of what they want. This is supposed to be universal, yet you clearly have left many people out.
HDS Natural Systems Design Science
Sun, July 14, 2013 at 12.08 am
My view basically agrees with the comment above by Patricia Almeida Ashley of Brazil.

There is a bias in the subjects addressed on the forum, leaving an appearance of Utopian thinking. People tend to make choices based on social values about how to make "the world we want", not really looking at how the world we have actually works, and there seems to be a simple reason.

Our very complexly organized and rapidly changing economic and cultural systems actually design themselves, so no one knows how they work. They behave much more like weather systems than any model or theory we have, but changing all the time, as living swarms of self-organizing creative human learning and behavior. You hear nothing at all about it on the news. They exhibit the behaviors of an ecology made largely of invisible organisms. That includes our professions and social communities as self-organized living systems themselves, but that they have yet to find a good way to observe and discuss, using some method possibly such as I developed (1).

When I talk to people what I find is that they know more than they think, but don’t yet know how to discuss it. The subject is generally not taught in school, hardly ever mentioned in the media, and quite fills our daily lives. Organic cultural change works something like “weather systems” with “smart parts”. They develop their own swarm behaviors, actively building on each other’s learning about what they have to work with in the world around them.

You can see clearly, for example, when markets searching the world for resources are learning about scarcity. It takes people more effort to find what they are looking for, and the prices rise. That kind of simple and unequivocal evidence of what market systems searching the earth are finding is one of many things missing from our discussion, because we "don't have a concept for it". We don't have one because we rely on theory and have no theory for living systems that would exhibit that kind of behavior. Theories don’t work with independently behaving parts, at all. Equations can’t learn new ways to work as they change the world they work in.

The social and economic market networks search the world to connect “what people can use” with “what they've learned to find”, and change directions like flocks of birds, by “social acceptance”, or "viral acclaim" to be more suggestive, or as JM Keynes termed, the "animal spirits" required to juggle the world and make a choice. Markets do it as complex communities with local language, values, inter dependencies and behaviors. They don’t follow social policies, as the social discussions tend to assume. They follow their own learning and discovery pathways, like any creature foraging and dodging as they go about their day. They follow their own urges and active learning about how to find what they they're looking for. They’re “swarms”.

As they search the earth for "what they need", they prefer resources that are uncontested, and to avoid costly competition over scarcities, unless they can’t avoid it. Unrelated industries may suddenly develop a preference for the same resource. As the economy as a whole keeps changing the earth and what’s available to find, it might cause volatility and brief interruptions to have more long lasting effects, or just take everyone more effort to find what they want. These behaviors are not so hard to observe, but only in living systems.

The elemental principle of economic survival gets lost then too, as that’s a living system principle as well. Economic systems like other living things, including large and small businesses, and even our own career paths, come into existence by "building themselves". They get their start using a seed resource to get their building process going, consuming their host environment to build themselves up and generate more profits to build with ever faster. To then dodge the wicked "death of a thousand cuts" at the end of that, their search networks figure out the easy way to stay profitable, and the systems turns to use its profits to care for what was built instead of building it to exhaustion.

Among others, see:
1) A 3Step process for Working With Nature -
2) UN Development Goals... leave out Common Needs -
Pusat Harga HP from
Mon, November 10, 2014 at 02.40 am
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INTSR at UFF in Brazil
Fri, July 12, 2013 at 05.18 am
Dear Editors of the Final Report of the Environmental Sustainability Consultation,

I recommend a revision in the Economic Transformation section of the Environmental Sustainability Consultation Report, based on the previous E-Discusson on the Role of the Private Sector and Markets.

Along the report and especially in the Economic Transformation section, the discourse rationale has much focused in the role of separate entities or institutions. Especially in the role of Governments and less in the role of markets or the private sector. I could not clearly see a consistent shared or multiactor policy apprach to economic transformation. Also, when looking at the paragraphs related to the role of the private sector and markets, a major point in the discussion which is not sufficiently covered in this report is the role of the policies at the Financial and Capital institutions, among other actors policies in contributing to develop cultures and economies of social responsibility and sustainable development.

Economic Transformation is not a matter only for Government policies or, on the other hand, of Leadership or Individualistic 'Hero' Approach in the private sector, but critically culturally and economically supported by institutional fields. Nonetheless expressed clearly by environmentally coherent policies of Finance and Capital Institutions in sourcing funds to economic agents from the private sector, public sector and individuals and rural and urban communities acting in sustainable way. I have checked the report paragraphs and sentences, doing a search on the word 'financial' in the report and the word financial is mentioned mostly related to the word 'community' (very much related to microfinance or development assistance).

I presented comments in the E-Discusson on the Role of the Private Sector and Markets, including one comment which was published in the e-discussion report at the section entitled "The private sector as a partner for environmental sustainability", on the need for multiactor policies' approach to sustainable development. In that e-discussion, to illustrate what I mean by shared or multiactor aproach to policies for economies and cultures of social responsibility and sustainable development, I also mentioned the International Workshop on the OECD Guidelines for Responsible Conduct of Multinational Entreprises (which happened on 28 Jan 2013, in Brasilia, Brazil at the National Secretary of Human Rights) in which the OECD National Contact Points of Brazil, Norway and UK came together with stakeholders from Brazil and contributed to discussing strategies for multilateral cooperation for the promotion of OECD Guidelines. I worked as the rappourter of the workshop report, in which I presented an analysis on multiactor and multilevel approach to cultures and economies of social responsibility and sustainable development. A critical issue towards OECD Guidelines promotion is to make it economically viable through the global supply chain. a challenge to global, national and private sector policies related to multiateral, public and private financial and capital institutions. The report recommends a multiactor or shared social responsibility approach, including the responsibility of the Financial and Capital Institutions. See the report at . As a follow up of the International Workshop, I am happy to inform that the agenda of the newly launched OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct, on 26 and 27 June, in Paris, France, gave a large importance to discuss the topic Responsible business conduct and the financial sector, organised with Netherlands NCP and ORSE Finance Club of France. See more at

Hopefully I could have contributed to the Final Report of the Environmental Sustainability Consultation

Kind Regards,

Rede EConsCiencia e Ecopoliticas -
International Policy and Research Network on Territories of Social Responsibility - INTSR
INTSR|UFF Brazil Chapter
Universidade Federal Fluminense - Brazil
prof prem raj pushpakaran College Professor, Policy Analyst, Author from India
Fri, July 12, 2013 at 01.27 am

prof prem raj pushpakaran
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