On 24 October, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Tokyo, along with the United Nations University (UNU) and Environmental Partnership Council (EPC), cerebrated the annual United Nations Day by jointly hosting a public forum titled, “Post ‘Rio+20’: Achieving The Future We Want.” Experts representing major stake holders such as the Japanese government, businesses, non-profits and youth organizations, gathered to discuss a wide range of issues the international community must face in the post-2015 era.
In the first half of the forum, János Pásztor, the out-going Executive Secretary of The United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), gave a keynote speech. He touched upon various UN efforts towards sustainable development, as well as the necessary steps for the establishment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new process which the member states at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, agreed to launch in June 2012.“We desperately need an emergence of a global citizenship which will look at global issues and address them,” he said, and underlined the important role the UN must play in order to make this a reality. He concluded by stating that “the UN really must change if we want to be relevant and efficient in the 21stcentury.”
Mr. Pasztor’s speech was followed by a panel discussion in which four experts, each representing a different sector, shared their experiences of Rio+20 and their views on what we can do to achieve sustainable development. Reviewing the broader implications of the outcome of Rio+20, including the need to harmonize SDGs and the post-MDG process, Hiroshi Minami, Government negotiator, also emphasized the importance of holding timely dialogue with the civil society before entering intergovernmental negotiations. Considering that the challenge of balancing development and environment has not been met in the past 20 years, Koyu Furusawa, leading representative of the civil society (Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society) pushed for a new international framework which combines the government, companies and citizen/community. From the perspective of the youth, Hiroki Fukushima(Japan Youth Ecology League)introduced the activities of the “Youth Blast” at Rio+20 and described how youth groups managed to have their perspective reflected in the final outcome document. From the business point of view, Tsukasa Kanai(General Manager for CSR, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank) considered their participation a success with the adoption of over 200 initiatives and explained the significance of signing the “Natural Capital Declaration,” a commitment by the finance industry to work towards integrating natural capital considerations into financial products and services.
In closing, Shoya Hirose (Climate Youth Japan), representing the youth, called for an international mechanism which would reflect voices of the youth in future negotiations and called on everyone to do their part to engage and act for a better future, regardless of age and nationality.