Sustainable development in the 21st century: On the road to Rio and beyond…

Key players and experts from the environment and sustainable development community gathered at IUCN’s headquarters in Switzerland this week to discuss how to implement sustainable development in the 21st Century.  

Member of the Dalit community harvesting rice in Chulachuli VDC, Ilam Siwaliks.

The outputs of the meeting will contribute to the work of the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) established by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable growth and low-carbon prosperity for all on a planet under increasing strain, not least from climate change”.

The report of the GSP may also contribute to the preparatory process of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio, Brazil in 2012 (Rio 2012). Rio 2012, which will address themes of green economy and sustainable development governance, aims to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development.

“Our discussions this week focused on injecting some fresh thinking on how to meet the challenges we face in the 21st century, what has worked and what hasn’t, and how we can collectively generate a constructive development paradigm that reflects the ways in which the world has changed in the 20 years since the Rio Earth Summit,” says IUCN Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre.

The discussions highlighted how the world’s current economic model cannot lead to sustainable development but that the resources do exist for the world to develop sustainably and for society to be transformed. This will be driven by new technologies, entrepreneurship, and the changing role of governments and civil society. Eradicating poverty and creating sustainable livelihoods were seen as key to achieving sustainable development while generating gender and cultural equality was flagged as an effective way of promoting it.

Participants at the meeting included experts on sustainable development from relevant organizations and sectors, including the business community and indigenous communities as well as representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme and the secretariat of the GSP. Also taking part were representatives of IUCN’s Member organizations, Commissions and Secretariat as well as IUCN President, Ashok Khosla, and Councillor Zuleika Pinzon.

The results of the discussions will form the basis of a set of recommendations related to implementing sustainable development in the 21st century. These will be made available to the Panel to help prepare its report to the UN Secretary General. The document will also be distributed to IUCN’s Members, in particular to governments, to help them prepare their own input to Rio 2012 and related processes.

For more information contact:

Constanza Martinez, Senior Policy Officer - Global Policy Unit, e-mail:



Work area: 
Global Policy
North America
Go to top