by Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future (Report)
A Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future Report by Richard Sherman with support from Austria Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Environment.
Considerations for Enhancing the Commission on Sustainable Development’s Multi-Year Programme of Work (2006)
A report from Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future with support from:
Austria Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Environment
Written by Richard Sherman, Jennifer Peer, Felix Dodds and Maria Figuera Küpcü
Stakeholder Forum for A Sustainable Future
Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for Environment and Developmemt
Northern Alliance for Sustainability
UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service
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Frequently Asked Questions
- What is meant by the term ‘sustainable development’?
- Who and what is a ‘stakeholder’?
- What is meant by the term ‘stakeholder engagement’?
- What and who are the Major Groups?
- What are the UN policy processes related to sustainable development?
- What have been the main developments in sustainable development at the international level?
- Does Stakeholder Forum have an agenda?
- What is Stakeholder Forum’s internal green policy?
- How is Stakeholder Forum funded?
There are a range of definitions of sustainable development, and how it is defined will in many cases depend on who you talk to. However, there is a general consensus that sustainable development entails the three pillars for development: economic, social and environmental.
The most commonly used and widely accepted definition of sustainable development is from the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, which was published in 1987 as the outcome report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED)chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland:
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
In its broadest sense, a stakeholder is any individual, organisation, sector or community who has a ‘stake’ in the outcome of a given decision or process. In the context of international decision making processes, such as those at the UN level, the term stakeholder usually refers to a global constituency or group such as farmers, NGOs, trade unions and workers etc. It is also important to note that contrary to the term ‘civil society’, which remains a very vague term in the context of international processes, the term stakeholder can help to define different constituencies within civil society.
Stakeholder engagement has become an often used but seldom defined phrase in the context of intergovernmental processes. Indeed, in a number of contexts it has been used to refer to any relations with external stakeholder groups, which in the context of the UN system, usually means any constituency other than a Member State. Stakeholder Forum defines the term to mean a series of activities that seek to inform, consult and ensure the participation of stakeholders. An effective engagement strategy is usually one that defines a set of stakeholder groups, allows more than six months for stakeholders to prepare themselves, provides predictable spaces for stakeholders to formally contribute to the content of the meeting or the working groups, and involves a programme of activities and events to ensure a broad base of participation. For more information please see the Stakeholder Empowerment Project.
At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 it was recognised that ‘one of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in decision-making’ Agenda 21. As a result, a number of key stakeholder groups were recognised for achieving sustainable development namely; Business and Industry; Trade Unions; Indigenous Peoples; Children and Youth; Women; Farmers; Local Government; Non-governmental Organisations; Science and Technology community. These stakeholder groups have become known as the Major Groups, and are officially recognised within the Commission on Sustainable Development, a two year policy cycle at the UN for developing and reviewing policies on sustainable development In this context, each Major Group has a number of coordinators whose role it is to reach out to their global constituency, prepare them for the coming CSD cycle, and prepare position papers and inputs. The Major Groups system has also been recognised by a number of other UN processes including UNEP and the UN Forum on Forests.
The main ongoing policy processes relating to sustainable development at a UN level are:
The Commission on Sustainable Development – responsible for enhancing progress towards and reviewing action taken in relation to the commitments outlined in Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (see below)
The Commission on Social Development – this Commission under the UN seeks to focus on primarily social issues that are critical for achieving sustainable development on a global level
The Millennium Development Goals – the MDGs focus more heavily on more traditional development issues – including poverty, hunger, infant mortality etc. However, the 7th MDG commits countries to ‘ensuring environmental sustainability’, and within that includes a target on biodiversity and management of natural resources. There are ad hoc reviews of progress towards them MDGs, and there will be a Millennium Summit in 2010
Earth Summit 2012 – this will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, twenty years on from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and ten years on from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. Focus areas include the Green Economy, Global Environmental Governance. Stakeholder Forum is conducting stakeholder engagement and outreach for the Summit. For more information please visit www.earthsummit2012.org.
There have been a series of milestones in sustainable development at the international level. The following are widely considered to be the most significant developments:
1987: The Brundtland Commission, formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development, publishes ‘Our Common Future’ and identifies the actions required to achieve sustainable development.
1992: World Conference on Environment and Development, aka Rio Earth Summit – Agenda 21 - the outcome document of the Summit - outlines the policy changes needed and the means of implementation and finance to deliver sustainable development for the 21st century. This also resulted in three important Conventions – the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
2000: Millennium Summit – this conference resulted in the now famous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with the aim of enhancing progress towards major development objectives. There are eight MDGs, and the 7th Goal (MDG7), commits countries to ‘ensuring environmental sustainability’.
2002: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD): This conference was conceived to enhance global political momentum towards achieving the commitments outlined in Agenda 21 ten years beforehand. It also sought to identify commitments in relation to emerging issues. The outcome document, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) is characterised by its focus on ‘Partnerships’ for delivering sustainable development objectives, as opposed to legally binding commitments or Treaties. These partnerships became known as ‘Type II Partnerships.
2002 – 2012: The Commission on Sustainable Development - responsible for enhancing progress towards and reviewing action taken in relation to the commitments outlined in Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Earth Summit 2012 – this will take place in Rio de Janerio in 2012, twenty years on from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and ten years on from the World Summit on Sustianabel Development in 2002. Focus areas include the Green Economy, Global Environmental Governance. Stakeholder Forum is conducting stakeholder engagement and outreach for the Summit. For more information please visit www.earthsummit2012.org
Stakeholder Forum’s agenda is to advance progress towards internationally agreed commitments on sustainable development. It believes that open, informed and transparent decision-making at a global level is critical in achieving this goal, which is why it focuses on stakeholder engagement. Rather than advancing any one particular stakeholder position, it seeks to identify areas of consensus as well as priority issues identified by a range of stakeholders. It does not advance positions or opinions for which there is little consensus, or where they flagrantly contradict the principles of achieving sustainable development.
To view Stakeholder Forum's Green Policy click here
Stakeholder Forum is funded by a combination of Foundations, charitable trusts, governments and UN agencies. Stakeholder Forum only takes money from organisations and institutions who can demonstrate a commitment to advancing progress towards the achievement of sustainable development.
Felix has played a critical role in promoting multi-stakeholder dialogue at the UN. From 1997 to 2001 he chaired the NGO Coalition on Sustainable Development at the UN. He facilitated the setting up of the international NGO Coalition for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN Habitat II Conference. He has been an advisor to the UK and Danish Governments and the European Commission at a number of UN meetings. He has published seven books, the latest edited with Andrew Higham and Richard Sherman is called Climate Change and Energy Insecurity, the previous one with Tim Pipard Human and Environmental Security brought out for the World Summit 2005 and was nominated as best environmental book of 2005. Felix has become a regular contributor to the BBC Green Room and other media outlets.
Hannah joined Stakeholder Forum in 2007 to manage the global policy and advocacy work of the organisation. She is responsible for managing and developing policy projects that seek to advance the positions and views of a diversity of stakeholders in the intergovernmental context. Hannah manages the Global Public Policy Network on Water Management (GPPN) with Stockholm International Water Institute, and is also leading on Stakeholder Forum’s strategy towards Earth Summit 2012. Hannah has presented the views of stakeholders at a range of intergovernmental meetings – including at COP15 in Copenhagen, the Commission on Sustainable Development 2007/8, the High Level Event on the MDGs in 2008, UNEP Governing Council and Global Civil Society Forum and the World Water Forum 2007/8. Hannah graduated from Oxford University with a 2.1 in History and German in 2005.
Emily is responsible for researching and promoting more effective stakeholder engagement practices in the context of intergovernmental meetings. She has project managed an 18 month review of stakeholder participation in UN policy-making processes and conducted independent evaluations for the UNODC and UNAIDS. She has facilitated workshops with UN civil servants in New York and Geneva; and has represented the organisation at the Aarhus Convention, the UN CSD 2008/9 and the UNFCCC negotiations in Barcelona and Copenhagen. Emily has also pioneered Stakeholder Forum's new media projects with the BBC World Service Trust and UN Radio. Prior to joining the organisation she worked in documentary-making as a producer. She has an MSc from the LSE in Development Studies, and a BA from Balliol College, Oxford, in English Literature.
Stephen is the editor of Stakeholder Forum's flagship newsletter, Outreach, which most recently has been produced at the UN CSD and COP-15 in Copenhagen. Stephen provides ongoing research across the organisation's programme of work; his recent activities have included drafting a chapter for latest GPPN report, qualitative research on behalf of the Commonwealth Foundation and background research into stakeholder relations in UN agencies. Stephen's research interests lie in strengthening the environmental pillar of sustainable development and the future integration of environment into the international and national policies. Prior to joining Stakeholder Forum he worked on a number of practical and research orientated projects including habitat restoration and conducting research into the Forest Riparian Ecology in Maine, USA. Stephen has a BSc in Ecological Science from Edinburgh University and an MA in Environment Politics and Globalisation from King's College London.
Richard is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He has extensive experience with policy analysis at the global level. He has worked for GLOBE and GEM in South Africa and has often advised the South African Government on governance, climate change and energy issues. He has also worked for a number of years for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
Based in New York, Maria has extensive policy analysis, market research and public relations experience on global affairs issues. She is a Director in Brunwick Group’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability practice as well as a Senior Research Fellow for the New America Foundation. Previously, she led initiatives on stakeholder involvement at the UN and directed international political and corporate campaigns at the firm Penn, Schoen & Berland.
Tom is responsible for updating and maintaining the new Stakeholder Forum website as well as affiliated mini-sites. He worked freelance in viral marketing, whilst still an undergraduate. Tom has a BA in German from King's College London.
Shamim joined Stakeholder Forum in February 2010 and is responsible for providing financial and administrative support for the organisation. She has a degree in Business Administration and Accounting from London South Bank University, and is currently undertaking ACCA's at Westminster University. In the future she would like to become a professional accountant.
Hui-Chun joined Stakeholder Forum in February 2010. She is responsible for providing research and support across a range of Stakeholder Forum's projects, including stakeholder engagement practices, sustainable consumption and production and biological diversity. Prior to joining the organisation, she worked for various NGOs for four years where she specialised issues around human rights and peace, APEC food system and EU-Taiwan relations. She has double MA degrees from the University of York and Central European University in Public Policy, under the Erasmus Munsus Scheme of the European Commission in 2009.
Peter is responsible for conducting policy research across Stakeholder Forum's entire programme of work, with particular focus on the green economy, multi-lateral environmental agreements and International Environmental Governance. Prior to joining the organisation, Peter worked on research of wide range energy and environmental issues mainly related to energy efficiency solutions and the EU energy and environmental policy-making. Peter has BA in International Relations from the University of Birmingham and MSc in European Political Economy from the London Schoolof Economics.
Based in London, Rosie manages all of Stakeholder Forum's finances.
The Stakeholder Forum Board of Directors consists of seven non-executives directors and the Executive Director.
The Board defines the vision, values and strategic goals for the organisation. It supports the staff in pursuing these goals and ensuring the ongoing financial security of the organisation. Please click here to see our current Board of Directors and to find out more.
Our International Advisory Board exists to inform and advise Stakeholder Forum on how to support stakeholders and sectors around major intergovernmental process. It also provides guidance on Stakeholder Forum’s books and publications and makes suggestions for members for project advisory boards. Membership of the IAB consists of representatives from a range of sectors, constituencies and organisations working in the sustainable development arena at the national and international level. Please click here for a list of our IAB members and records of recent meetings.
The UK Policy Advisory Panel (UK PAP) advises Stakeholder Forum on work at the UK level. In particular, it assists in stakeholder engagement, advises SF on the content and balance of its current and future work programmes and to the forthcoming international agendas and opportunities for engagement on these issues. As Stakeholder Forum's operations in other parts of the world expand, it is likely that other national or regional policy advisory panels will be established in the future.
Membership of the UK PAP consists of representatives from leading UK stakeholder groups as well as eminent individuals who are concerned with the promotion of sustainable development at the international level. Membership is gained by the invitation of the SF Board, though it is possible that this will evolve over time into a system of nomination or election by the major stakeholder groups. The UK PAP will normally meet twice a year. To see the PAP members, just click here.
|Stakeholder Forum seeks to provide a bridge between those who have a stake in sustainable development, and the international forums where decisions are made in their name. To this end, we work with a diversity of stakeholders globally on international policy development, media and communications, advocacy, lobbying, consultation and evaluation to promote progressive outcomes on sustainable development through an open and participatory approach. Our work can be divided into the following core categories:|
Global Policy and Advocacy
Stakeholder Forum plays a key role in advancing policy on sustainable development at an international level. To this end, Stakeholder Forum conducts national, regional and international stakeholder consultations to provide policy recommendations for UN processes, as well as playing a specific role in advocating and lobbying in the intergovernmental context. Stakeholder Forum builds multi-stakeholder coalitions to advocate on particular policy areas, providing background information, policy briefings and interventions where relevant. It also acts as an agenda-setter and thought leader in the area of Global Environmental Governance. Read more…
A core aspect of Stakeholder Forum’s mission is to ensure that those who have a ‘stake’ in a policy outcomes related to sustainable development are better placed to participate, inform and shape the decision-making process. To that end it has developed expertise across a range of engagement tools and practices including stakeholder consultations, multi-stakeholder dialogues, and process design and evaluation. Read more…
Stakeholder Forum has been engaging with UN processes on sustainable development since 1987, and as such has developed a significant expertise on how to engage with and influence intergovernmental processes. Stakeholder Forum co-ordinates a number of activities that seek to build the capacity for global stakeholders to get the most out of intergovernmental meetings, and influence policy outcomes to reflect their agenda. Read More....
Media and Communications
The media has become a critical conduit for generating awareness, championing unheard voices and generating political momentum around sustainable development issues. In order to harness the power of media and communications, Stakeholder Forum’s media portfolio has focused on developing new strategies for working with journalists, generating innovative outreach strategies and producing new media content for campaigns and emerging issues. Read more....
Establishing a temporary radio studio on site, Stakeholder Forum produced a series of audio podcasts to capture some of the key debates, issues and innovations under discussion at Stockholm World Water Week. These broadcasts were brought to you as part of the GPPN.