Department of Environmental Affairs today concluded a National Sustainable Development Workshop, which it hosted together with the National Cleaner Production Centre for South Africa.
The workshop was held from the 6th to 7th December 2012, at the CSIR in Pretoria, and provided national stakeholders, UN country representatives, the private sector and civil society the opportunity to engage on national and international sustainable development issues, against the context of the year 2012 being the 10th anniversary of World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and a year since of Cabinet's approval of the National Strategy on Sustainable Development (NSSD1) on 23 November 2011, building on the 2008 National Framework for Sustainable Development.
The Johannesburg Summit marked a key juncture in the multilateral process and represented a crucial step in the efforts to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development namely economic, social and environmental pillars. The summit adopted the Johannesburg declaration on sustainable development, a pledge by world leaders to commit themselves fully to the implementation of a sustainable development agenda. Furthermore, the summit adopted the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) which set out a comprehensive programme of action towards the implementation of Agenda 21.
The workshop benefited from presentations on practical initiatives and programmes carried out by the business sector, government, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs), civil society, academia and other key role players in promoting sustainable development in South Africa, and reemphasised role of business and financiers in supporting sustainable development in the country.
Participants from organised business expressed support for integrated sustainability reporting to be mainstreamed into the reporting system of government. The workshop also discussed the establishment of an inter-governmental process under the United Nations General Assembly to assess financing needs, with options on effective sustainable development financing, and stress the importance of education and skills development and active participation of all stakeholders in sustainable development initiatives.
The workshop also discussed in detail the outcomes of Rio+20, "The Future We Want", which contains a number of key decisions and outcomes notably amongst others the call for the establishment of an Inter-governmental Open Working Group to further work on the sustainable development goals which would be an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda, when the 2000 Millennium Development Goals comes of age.
It is expected that these engagements will not only help to provide the basis for the development of SA's position on the implementation of Rio+20 but will also align the country's various interventions with regards to its national sustainable development strategy and strengthening of the National Development Plan Vision 2030.