Ford Foundation
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Ford Foundation
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Indicators (1 hits),

Full Submission

Submission to the Secretariat for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development for the Zero Draft of the Rio+20 Compilation Document from the Ford Foundation


The Ford Foundation is pleased to provide this input ?for inclusion in a compilation document to serve as basis for the preparation of zero draft of the outcome document? from the United Nations 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development (?Rio+20?). This document represents a summary of submissions developed by Foundation grantees for inclusion in the formal agenda for Rio+20.

The Ford Foundation?s overarching interest in the Rio+20 Conference is to secure renewed and strengthened political commitment for sustainable development. In pursuing this objective, the Ford Foundation is supporting a wide range of civil society organizations (CSOs) that are promoting policy efforts and public leadership to advance several major agendas within the Rio+20 process, including:

? Sustainable and Equitable Cities/Urbanization;

? An Inclusive Green Economy Agenda that includes the Global South;

? Indigenous Peoples? Rights to Natural Resources and Sustainable Livelihoods;

? Strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development by seeking greater transparency at the G20 and improving alignment with the goals of Rio+20 and the sustainable development conventions associated with the 1992 Earth Summit;

? An Agreement regarding Corporate Social Responsibility.

Towards these ends, the Foundation has supported CSOs to: 1) develop white papers that identify urgent emerging challenges and opportunities, which have served as a basis for recommendations to be incorporated into the Rio+20 zero draft process; 2) build networks of stakeholders to expand and facilitate participation in the summit process; 3) achieve consensus on priorities for CSO networks and decision makers; 4) identify implementation challenges and gaps to be addressed through the Rio+20 process; and 5) advocate for reforms in policies and practices to their local, regional, and national governments, international decision-making bodies, and across sectors (e.g., the private sector, the media, researchers).

Ford Foundation contributions to Rio+20 Theme One: The Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication

The Ford Foundation?s mission is to promote social justice and reduce poverty. Therefore, all Foundation-funded activities regarding Rio+20 focus on the green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. These are described more fully below:

? Sustainable and Equitable Cities/Urbanization. The Foundation is working with a group of grantees called the Sustainable Cities Working Group to advance sustainable urbanization strategies that also increase economic opportunity and reduce poverty. The group?s main message is that the ways in which we collectively grow and manage our cities will largely determine the quality of life for billions of people and the fate of the planet?s sustainability. This working group has submitted several concrete proposals for consideration in the zero draft process that address implementation gaps, new partnerships, and new institutional frameworks, including:

o The creation of a UN Green Jobs Coordinating Group to ensure that the green economic efforts of relevant bodies within the UN system are well-coordinated, mutually reinforced, and integrated. This would be supplemented by a UN Green Jobs Best Practices Unit, which would collect and disseminate information to an international audience.

o Improved transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness regarding the sustainable urbanization process at the local level and the expansion of international legal mechanisms, including but not limited to the Aarhus Convention, to improve accountability at all levels of government.

o The creation of National Incentive Funds for Integrated Urban Region and Municipal Planning (similar to the US government?s Partnership for Sustainable Communities); Funds to Invest in Innovative Financing Models for Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Development; and National Urban Sustainable Planning and Development Commissions to accelerate and improve the practice of sustainable urban and regional planning.

o A sustainable transportation goal that enables nations to commit to targets like reducing transport sector greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent between a 2005 baseline and 2050; reducing by half the number of traffic fatalities in the world by 2025; and increasing access to affordable and sustainable modes like public transit, walking, and cycling.

o Ensure the public availability and utilization of data on urban operations and conditions, including information on water, sewer, transportation, housing, and other systems.

o Relying on available data, persuade national, regional, and local governments to adopt sustainability and poverty reduction performance Indicators that can be tracked over time.

? An Inclusive Green Economy Agenda focusing on the Global South. The Foundation is working with CSOs?mostly Brazilian organizations?to develop a green economy agenda that focuses on inclusion and equity. This would include:

o Community Rights to Forest Resources: The Foundation is supporting efforts by communities to secure their rights to own and manage forests. Globally, community ownership of forests has increased significantly since the first Earth Summit in 1992, which has allowed significant improvements in livelihoods and the environment. The foundation suggests that the United Nations consider adopting a target of increasing the forest area under formally recognized ownership or control of forest communities by 100 million hectares by 2017.

o The Ford Foundation supports indigenous and traditional peoples? efforts to guarantee their rights over territories and natural resources, as stated in the indigenous peoples? organizations recommendations for Rio +20 in the Letter of Manaus (24 April 2011): ?The Green Economy proposal which will be a theme for discussion at Rio + 20, has not been clearly defined, and there are many concerns expressed by Indigenous Peoples. There is, for example, a concern that it will be used by Corporations and States to continue to replicate the same destructive and exploitative ?economic development? models that have caused the current global economic, environmental and climate crisis. Indigenous Peoples have the opportunity to define and implement their own holistic concepts of development in the context of, inter alia, Articles 3, 20, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33 and 37 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and taking into account equity, human rights and traditional knowledge principles and the concept of well-being as defined by Indigenous Peoples themselves. Our proposed model of development with culture, identity, self-determination and territory will be presented by Indigenous Peoples and should be carefully considered by States, at the Rio + 20 Conference.?

o The Ford Foundation supports the Brazilian Civil Society participation in the Brazilian Government National Commission for Rio +20 process. This Commission, headed by the Ministries of the Environmental and Foreign Affairs, is a multi-stakeholder organization and produced a document to be submitted as the Brazilian Contribution for Rio+20.

? Indigenous Peoples? Rights to Natural Resources and Sustainable Livelihoods. [From the aforementioned Letter from Manaus]: ?International standards like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirm that development is social and cultural, as well as economic. Indigenous Peoples maintain the right to define and freely pursue our own vision of development based on our needs, priorities, traditional understandings and responsibilities, including the cultural and spiritual relationships with the Natural World, our ancestral territories and the ecosystems that have sustained us since time immemorial.?

? An Agreement Regarding Corporate Social Responsibility. The Foundation is exploring opportunities to assist in the development of a Convention on Social Responsibility as an outcome from Rio+20. It would include the mandatory requirement for companies listed on the stock exchange to produce sustainability reporting so as to ensure four key principles:

o Transparency: companies should be required to integrate material sustainability issues within their reports and accounts;

o Accountability: there should be effective mechanisms for investors to hold companies to account on the quality of their disclosures, including through an advisory vote at the Annual General Meeting (AGM);

o Responsibility: Board duties should explicitly include setting company?s values and standards, and ensuring that its obligations to its shareholders and other stakeholders are understood and met;

o Incentives: Companies should state in remuneration reports whether the remuneration committee consider ESG factors which are of material relevance to the sustainability and long term interests of the company when setting remuneration of executive directors; aligning remuneration with the interest of the shareholders, including customers and employees. Additionally, companies should be required to present their Corporate Sustainability Strategy to a separate vote at its AGM. The future convention should draw on experiences and content from the Global Compact, Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative, Carbon Disclosure Project and the OECD guidelines. Governments may wish to look anew at the proposed Chapter 41 of Agenda 21 from 1991. This was called ?Transnational Corporations and Sustainable Development?; it was submitted at Rio for consideration by the UN Center for Transnational Corporations.

Ford Foundation contributions to Rio+20 Theme Two: Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.

Several proposals regarding institutional frameworks to strengthen the pillars of sustainable development are listed above. In addition, the Foundation proposes the following:

? Improved Alignment between the goals of the UN system and the G20. The Foundation is working with partners to improve alignment between the Group of 20 (G20) Development Action Plan (DAP) and the goals of the Rio+20 Summit. Improving coordination between the G20 and the United Nations system?particularly the UN Environment Program, the UN Development Program, the UNFCCC, and UN-WOMEN?has important implications for the writing of global rules on finance, sustainable development, and transparent and effective governance, particularly in light of the fact that the G20 stipulates that its growth frameworks should be implemented and financed by the United Nations and international trade, finance, and development institutions. But currently the G20?s growth frameworks lack an integration of the three indispensable elements of sustainable development relating to the natural environment, the economy, and poverty reduction. If its orientation and growth frameworks are not revamped, the G20 could work at cross-purposes with the 2012 Earth Summit by increasing, rather than helping to close, the wide gap between the aspirations and commitments to sustainable development and the implementation performance of nations and institutions. However, such re-orientation can only occur if the G20 becomes an open, transparent and accountable body. At present, in contravention of Rio Principles (e.g., Principle 10 on Public Participation; Principle 20 on the role of women in sustainable development), the G20 operates behind closed doors, excluding 173 UN member countries and civil society.

? Creation of a new Chamber for Cities within a new Sustainable Development Council. This Chamber would fully recognize the leadership role that mayors and other local executives continue to play to advance the practice of sustainable and inclusive urbanization. In fact, it would present an opportunity for cities to define a different role in achieving sustainability worldwide. By providing official status to the world?s mega-city mayors and other local officials, this Chamber would represent a formal and high-level way to provide an institutional home and leadership for sustainable urbanization efforts. Participating local officials can focus on pragmatic means of implementing green and inclusive development strategies.

? Forwarding the concerns noted by indigenous groups regarding changes to the UN-CSD: [From the aforementioned Letter of Manaus] ?The proposal to upgrade the UN Commission on Sustainable Development to a new Council, similar to the Human Rights Council, while it may elevate discussions on sustainability within the UN system; it could also have the potential to reduce the space for Indigenous Peoples to participate and be part of any negotiation process. The experience with the recent creation of the Human Rights Council, from the former Commission on Human Rights, confirms the potential for reduced opportunities for participation. This is an issue that requires further discussion and analysis particularly in relation to the development of guiding principles, taking into consideration UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, current Indigenous-related UN mechanisms, as well as the role of self-governing bodies and autonomies within Indigenous territories.?

Ford Foundation contact: Don Chen, , 212-573-5092
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