United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
  • Name: United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: International organizations (1 hits),

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Inputs of the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) put the concept of Sustainable Development definitively on policy agendas at all levels from global to local. It generated a series of important documents such as the Agenda 21, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Nevertheless, almost twenty years later, even though important progress has been made in several areas, the World still struggles to fully implement the decisions made during UNCED, which could steer humanity towards a more sustainable path. The two themes of the Rio+20 Conference (?the institutional framework for sustainable development and the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication?) are important areas for advancing further the commitments made twenty years ago and their implementation.

The two themes are not new in the discussions on sustainable development, both in theory and practice. However, they have not yet been incorporated in the mainstream political and economic discussions and actions. Thus, on the one hand, we expect that Rio+20 will encourage a stronger political commitment by countries, major groups and International organizations to the development of a credible institutional framework for leading us to a more sustainable development and steer the mainstream economy to a greener path that can eradicate poverty. On the other hand, we need more innovation capacity to generate tools and mechanisms to transform broad concepts into practical results for advancing implementation of such commitments.

The United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) is committed to contributing to the understanding of the solutions to key emerging issues of global concern in the area of sustainable development. Based on UNU-IAS?s experience, the capacity of societies to innovate locally is essential to generate viable global solutions. Thus, within the scope of the two main themes proposed for the conference, two points related to innovation should be highlighted during Rio+20.

The first point is to create mechanisms to identify and generate Innovative Solutions, both technological and institutional, that will have large positive impacts on societies. Those innovations have to cut across sectors and regions and lead to radical impacts on the way our societies use environmental resources and distribute its benefits. Incremental small changes towards sustainable development are still important, but only with more radical changes can we achieve suggested international goals, such as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or preservation of biodiversity, in order to avoid future unsustainable paths. Thus, besides the effective implementation of individual projects and programmes, innovative initiatives with much larger impact are necessary.

The second point is to create governance mechanisms that facilitate the dynamic exchange of knowledge and resources locally and globally to generate and diffuse the Innovative Solutions we need for radical changes. We have to create mechanisms that facilitate the development of local innovation capacities in order to scale up innovations. As many of the solutions to global concerns emerge at the local level, we need local and global efforts to create the capacity to innovate locally and spread those innovations globally to those who need them. Local groups must be able to adopt the best technologies for their local needs, absorb new technologies and create the institutional mechanisms to increase their benefits. Thus, we need to understand global mechanisms that facilitate the diffusion of knowledge and resources to enable the development and dissemination of good local solutions to other localities in a fair, effective and efficient manner. An international forum or agency on sustainable innovation that could coordinate the efforts to govern, promote, identify and diffuse sustainable innovations, both technological and institutional, would be essential to accelerate the implementation of the sustainable development agenda.
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