Putting health at the heart
sustainable development at Rio+20
Health in a green economy and global governance
Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
Health was described as a pillar of sustainable development in the 1992 Rio Declaration of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Two decades later, this year's Rio+20 conference will focus on "green economy" and "institutional frameworks" for sustainable development and poverty eradication. UN member states and other stakeholder groups are discussing exactly how to address these themes in the draft conference text, The Future We Want. From now until June, a series of regional and international consultations and negotiations will finalize this "zero draft".
Including health in Rio+20 agendas
Health can be a key contributor to, and also a beneficiary of, sustainable development. These links deserve wider recognition in sustainable development agendas and processes.
• Universal health coverage can support sustainable development: a healthier population contributes more effectively to economies and societies.
• Health in the green economy: some green economy measures, such transport networks for walking and cycling, can yield very large health "co-benefits", e.g. for physical activity. Other measures may pose risks for health that need to be managed. For instance, employees may face new risks, such as exposures to toxics used in emerging technologies.
• Health-based measures of sustainable development: Tracking and monitoring of health based indicators/measures – such as the proportion of people exposed to high rates of urban air pollution, or workers' exposures to air pollutants/toxics – can help us evaluate progress towards sustainable development that brings optimal human welfare.
WHO briefing to countries on Rio+20
During the WHO Executive Board's January 2012 session, the EB requested a briefing on the "United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20" (EB 130/136).
At the EB's request, the WHO Secretariat also briefed Member State missions in Geneva on February 1, at a meeting convened by the Government of Brazil to discuss health-relevant country contributions to Rio+20. The Missions present asked the WHO to circulate background materials on the conference to WHO country offices.
- Download EB briefing (130/136)
Download powerpoint presentation on health, green economy and Rio+20
- Rio+20 website
- Dates and deadlines for inputs
In terms of the two key conference themes, the focus is on the following topics:
a) moving towards a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction. Seven substantive areas of focus include: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans, and disasters.
b) global governance for sustainable development. Outcomes are likely to contribute towards a new set of post-2015 "sustainable development goals/indicators" as well as helping define how UN agencies and countries will advance policies, actions, and monitor outcomes.
Rio+20 consultations and participation
Consultations and negotiations on a "Zero draft" document for Rio+20 are in full swing. The deadline for country comments directly to the UNCSD is end February 2012.
The second meeting of the Preparatory Committee will be held 7-8 March 2011 in New York immediately after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (28 February-4 March 2011. From March-May 2012 there will be a series of further consultations, leading to the final preparatory meeting 13-15 June.
Key stakeholder groups may also be accredited by 20 February to participate in the conference and informal consultations. And there will be a series of capacity-building meetings for member states to aid with interactions in the process.