"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Meeting Report of the Third High-level Panel on Global Sustainability

[Place] Helsinki
[Date] May 17, 2011
[Source] High-level Panel on Global Sustainability
[Full text]

I. Introduction

1. The third meeting of the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) was hosted by Co-chair President Tarja Halonen in Helsinki, Finland.

2. 18 of the 22 Panel members were present at the meeting. Due to the inability of Co-Chair President Jacob Zuma to attend, President Halonen singly chaired the meeting. The four Panel members who were unable to attend were represented by their Sherpas or Advisers.

3. 16 May commenced with a discussion of the status of the Panel's work, followed by work in break-out groups, and wrapped up with a retreat of Panel members. Sherpas and Advisors joined their Principals and met before and after the Panel meeting, on 15 and 18 May.

4. The discussion at GSP3 was initiated on the basis of the Co-Chairs' Guidance Note, issued prior to the Panel meeting and incorporating inputs by Panel members in response to an earlier request by the Co-Chairs. The Guidance Note included a draft outline and an initial list of priorities for the Panel's final report. This report provides a summary of all sessions of the Panel meeting, with the separate Sherpa discussions of 15 and 18 May summarized in Annex II.

II. Taking stock of GSP's work

5. The Co-Chair briefed participants on GSP-related activities since the second Panel Meeting in Cape Town. These included an interactive dialogue with the UN General Assembly, as well as a dialogue with heads of UN agencies and with civil society held on 15-16 March 2011 at the UN Headquarters in New York; a dialogue with trade unions on 12 April 2011 in Madrid; and a side-event at the sidelines of the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) on 10 May 2011 in Istanbul.

6. There was broad agreement that additional outreach was needed, including with focused messages reflecting the Panel's findings and recommendations, as they would build up towards its final report. Such messages could inform relevant multilateral fora and intergovernmental processes underway, including Rio+20.

7. Building on the framework agreed upon at GSP2 in Cape Town, the objectives of this meeting were to reach an agreed outline, identify priority areas for the Panel's final report as well as its added value, and develop a work-plan from GSP3 to GSP4.

III. Added value

8. Discussing the added value of the Panel's final report, Panel members highlighted the importance of understanding why efforts towards sustainable development have fallen short to date.

9. Panel members recognized that the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, environmental and social) are closely linked, however this relationship is not often reflected in policy design and implementation, which commonly fall within sectors. Some suggested to focus the work in providing solutions that consider synergies, and trade-offs between sectors.

10. Panel members also noted an added value of the Panel's final report could lie in building on the shared interest for long-term sustainability and living within the earth's planetary boundaries. While recognizing the different circumstances of individual countries and groups of countries, it was acknowledged that truly sustainable development would require tough political calls and at times radical new approaches in order to meet this shared objective. A high-level political group like the Panel lending its weight to such an approach could play a catalytic role towards action.

11. Panel members strongly emphasized that added value of the GSP final report could be providing concrete yet visionary recommendations for a sustainable and equitable future.

IV. Draft Narrative

12. Panel members broadly agreed that the narrative prepared by the Secretariat's lead writer, in consultation with the Co-Chairs, was well-written in an accessible style that could be read and understood by a broad audience.

13. There was consensus that the final report should be concise, targeted and short. It was suggested to add an executive summary for policy makers, and to translate the report into all official UN languages.

V. Draft Outline and priorities

14. There was agreement that the GSP final report would be structured in three parts: o Part I: Where We Are

o Part II: Where We Need to Be

o Part III. How to Move from Here to There

15. Panel members agreed that an analysis of the business-as-usual scenario (BAU) would be useful to build an understanding as to why government policies and international development efforts do not sufficiently address issues of sustainability, poverty and inequity. Part I will emphasize that business-as-usual is no longer a viable option given planetary boundaries, thresholds and tipping points of the natural environment and ecosystems.

16. Panel members recognized that while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have made progress in reducing poverty, progress has been limited in part because of the ingrained sectoral approach. It is therefore necessary that this Panel consider the linkages between sectors in order to advance each issue in its own right as well as to advance synergies between issues. For example, when approaching food security, the Panel could consider three dimensions (consumption, production and access) and elaborate how this issue also links with land use, water, energy, gender equality, governance and the economy. By doing so several elements of sustainability can be advanced in parallel.

17. Through its final report the Panel aims to provide recommendations that are not only visionary, but concrete and actionable— able to be undertaken and implemented by politicians and decision-makers.

18. The prevalent economic system, including globalization, was recognized as having significant short-comings that undermine sustainability. Panel members suggested that consideration be given to the global political economy as well as to concrete recommendations that have potential to mitigate negative economic trends and pitfalls, including through new economic indicators and incentives.

19. Some Panel members suggested the report highlight a people-centred and rights- based approach aligning with the principles of transparency, accountability and social inclusiveness.

20. There was consensus that the Panel should focus on the ‘how to' (mechanisms and drivers) and the ‘who does what' (actors) that will be needed to reach the overarching goal ‘to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, make growth inclusive and production and consumption more sustainable while combating climate change and respecting the range of other planetary boundaries'.

21. Panel members agreed on key priority areas and cross-cutting means regarding which and the Panel would make concrete, actionable and forward-looking recommendations (see Annex I).

22. The Panel discussed the possibility of developing long-term sustainable development goals and indicators that could be applicable in the post-MDG period. In view of the time and technical expertise such an undertaking would require, it was agreed that the Panel would consider calling for such goals to be developed, perhaps also indicating some elements that could be included, without getting into details.

VI. Work Programme

23. It was agreed that the work of the Panel entered a new phase: with increased expectations for productivity; more frequent correspondence and increased opportunities for input by Panel members and Sherpas; and increased production of support documents in order to deliver the final report in a timely manner.

24. Based on the agreed outline, the lead writer would commence drafting the report, in close consultation with the rest of the GSP Secretariat, the Sherpas and ultimately the Panel members themselves. The first iteration of the report, specifically its first two sections, would be made available to the Panel members and Sherpas towards the end of June.

25. Co-chair President Halonen suggested that the work of the Panel could be accelerated so that UN Member States could be informed of the key recommendations of the Panel by the end of October. That would require that the last meeting of the Panel take place in late October. No final decision was made on this.

VII. Conclusion

26. Co-Chair President Tarja Halonen closed the meeting noting that the expected main outcome of GSP3, an agreed outline for the GSP final report, had been met (see revised outline in Annex I); and dialogue on the report's priority issues and added value had also been advanced.

27. The Secretariat, together with the lead writer, had also been given a clear mandate to begin drafting the report; and a robust programme of work had been established.


i. Priority Issues

The key sectoral priorities the Panel would make concrete and actionable recommendations for are:

- Access to affordable, clean, and safe energy

- Access to clean water

- Food security, agriculture, fisheries

- Decent jobs (especially youth), small-medium enterprises.

The Panel would also touch upon the following issues in less depth:

- Human capital (including health, education, awareness raising, capacity

building, access to information, ethics)

- Biodiversity (terrestrial, aquatic and marine; with emphasis on oceans)

- Disaster risk reduction and resilience

- Ensuring sustainability in fragile contexts

- Social protection

- Urbanization

ii. Cross Cutting Means

The Panel would make concrete and actionable recommendations related to the following cross-cutting means:

- Green growth

- Markets – Finance

- Pricing of environmental scarcities

- Pricingandremunerationforenvironmentalservices  Removingperversesubsidies

- Leveragingpublicfinance

- Green public procurement

- Privatefinanceandpublic-privatepartnerships

- Taxation

- Governance (local, national, regional and global)

- Democratic

- Transparent

- Coherent

- Gender equality and women empowerment

- Technology (innovation, cooperation, transfer)

It could also consider global political economy (to be determined)


High-level Panel on Global Sustainability

Meeting of the GSP Sherpas

Helsinki, Finland, 15 May 2011 3-5 pm and 18 May 2011, 7:30-9 am

Meeting Report

Prepared by the Panel Secretariat in consultation with the Co-Chair Sherpas


Sherpas and Senior Advisers of Panel members met in Helsinki prior to and after the third meeting of the Global Sustainability Panel (GSP3) — in the afternoon of 15 May and in the morning of 18 May — to review preparations for and follow-up on the Panel's discussions at GSP3. Sherpas also received briefings on 15 May by external experts on scenario planning and planetary boundaries. This report attempts to capture the main points of the Sherpas' discussion and was prepared by the Secretariat in consultation with the Co-Chair Sherpas.

Scenario exercise

Dr. Richard Rosen of the Tellus Institute presented the Polestar System, which is a software tool for integrated sustainability planning and long-range scenario analysis, offering a flexible and adaptable accounting framework for constructing a wide range of possible futures. As requested by the Panel at earlier meetings, Dr. Rosen focused in particular on the “business as usual” (BAU) or “conventional development” scenario. A second presentation on planetary boundaries was given by Dr. Kevin Noone from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He provided a framework for measuring stress to the Earth systems and identifying ranges or thresholds below which humans can live in a safe operating space, without crossing dangerous tipping points in the natural world. Dr. Noone also showed how the Polestar model can be used to calculate indices for both physical and social indicators.

The way forward

The following was agreed upon, in light of the understandings reached by Panel members at their meeting and subsequent clarifications through discussions between the Sherpas and Secretariat:

- The need for heightened communication among and engagement by Panel members, Sherpas and Secretariat to support the development and drafting of the Panel's final report;

- The Secretariat was given a clear mandate to take the lead in providing substantive inputs for consideration by the Panel members and Sherpas, as well as to pro-actively initiate communications between Sherpas and Secretariat to ensure timely preparation of the GSP report drafts;

- Sherpas would liaise closely with their principals and would be more proactive on specific issues of interest as “champions”/initiators or facilitators;

- Regular teleconferences with Sherpas and possibly Panel members are also envisaged, to ensure coherence and understanding of the report's content and progress in the course towards GSP4;

- The work plan leading up to GSP4 needs to be further developed, and deadlines should be followed;

- The agreed outline from GSP3 would be used as basis for writing the first full draft report;

- Recommendations by the Panel should be limited in number and should be specific and concrete;

- The Secretariat will create a compendium of emerging recommendations for the Sherpas to refer to, based on the Panel members' inputs, Panel discussions, papers produced by working groups and “champion” Panel members;

- The GSP Network would be used not only as documents repository but also for interactive discussions on priority issues and emerging drafts;

- Two Sherpa meetings were envisaged prior to GSP4 — at the end of June and at the end of August respectively — to prepare and support the writing of the first full draft of the report for consideration by Panel members in the Panel's fourth meeting (GSP4).