From 3-5 September, 2011, the 64th Annual UN Department of Public Information/NGO Conference was held in the German city Bonn, bringing together 2.000 participants from over 100 different countries. The conference, entitled “Sustainable Societies Responsive Citizens” addressed the importance to link sustainable development with public engagement and aimed to provide input for next year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD).
If the next generations are to benefit from current development efforts, those actions have to be implemented in a sustainable way, said Donna Keher, the Chief of Partnerships and Communications Division of UNV. “This conference … is a golden opportunity to forge long-term partnerships that build sustainable development through civic engagement. The spirit of volunteerism inspires a sense of responsibility and a thirst for change”, Keher stressed.
In light of the current food crisis in East Africa, participants pointed to the necessity to improve the conditions of food production as a means to ensure food security for all. This could be however only achieved if women were given the same access to agricultural resources as men, participants agreed. Women continue to be generally regarded as less productive than their male counterparts, a fact that can be explained by their limited access to resources rather than a lack of capability, experts stressed. Professor Momsen however warned against the disregard of womens’ individual rights in this process. “Who knows if these women really want to do this farming… we need to have a look at individual will and not just a global view,” she said.
Another workshop addressed the failure of the international community to address environmental problems effectively. If we want to achieve sustainability in environmental politics, all governments have to act in concert rather than pursuing their own interests, said plenary panellist Konrad Otto-Zimmermann. “Countries and groups forged ahead in different directions and almost no one believes anymore that there could be one global climate agreement. Yet there is only one global climate. Who is taking care of it?”, he asked.
The final declaration of the conference is to serve as input for the upcoming UNCSD, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, from 4-6 June 2012. The conference will focus on the link between the concept of green economy and poverty eradication and how to improve the institutional set-up for sustainable development.
To read the final declaration, click here: UN - DPI/NGO Conference
For further information on the UNCSD, click here: UNCSD - Rio+20