National Workshop on Sustainable Development

Event date: 
2012-12-06 08:29 to 2012-12-07 08:29

  National Workshop on Sustainable Development



Introduction and background 


In September of 2002, South Africa hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).  This was 10years after the inaugural Sustainable Development Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Johannesburg Summit marked a key juncture in the multilateral process and represented a crucial step in the efforts of the international community to deal with the human kind relationship with the natural environment. The summit adopted the Johannesburg declaration on sustainable development, a pledge by world leaders to commit themselves fully to the implementation of the goals of sustainable development. Furthermore, the summit adopted the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation which sets out a comprehensive programme of action containing a range of targets and deadlines for achieving them.

The National Strategy for Sustainable Development and Action Plan – also referred to as NSSD 1 (2011–2014) – was endorsed by Cabinet on 23 November 2011. The NSSD1 builds on the 2008 National Framework for Sustainable Development and several initiatives that were launched by the business sector, government, NGOs, civil society, academia and other key role players to address issues of sustainability in South Africa. The NSSD 1 will be implemented during the period 2011– 2014. The lessons and evaluation of progress regarding the implementation of NSSD 1 will inform NSSD 2 (2015–2020).

The NSSD 1 identified five (5) strategic priorities:

  1. Enhancing systems for integrated planning and implementation: objective being to enhance effective governance and institutional structures and strengthening monitoring and reporting by government and private sector;
  2. Sustaining our ecosystems and using natural resources efficiently: with objective to value, protect and continually enhance environmental assets and natural resources;
  3. Towards a green economy: just transition towards a resource efficient, low carbon and pro-employment growth path;
  4. Building sustainable communities: with objective being to change the attitudes and behaviour in consuming resources sustainably and responsibly;
  5. Responding effectively to climate change: with objective being for a fair contribution to the global effort to achieve the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations, effectively adaptto and manageunavoidable and potential damaging climate change impacts.

Ten years later, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development known as Rio+20 was convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 - 22 June 2012. The Conference was aimed at securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, as well as addressing new challenges. The Conference was convened under the following themes; “a green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction” and “institutional framework for sustainable development”. Therefore, Rio+20 was seen as a much needed platform to address in a coherent and coordinated manner the emerging challenges associated with the implementation of sustainable development.

The conference adopted a decision document entitled ''The Future We Want'' which contained a number of key decisions and outcomes pertaining to the objectives and the themes of the Conference. One of the key outcomes calls for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Open Working Group to further work on the sustainable development goals which will be an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda.  The Open Working Group will consist of 30 UN member country representatives nominated by different regions. This Group will produce a report containing proposals on sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action by the General Assembly during its sixty eight (68th) session which will be convened in September 2013.

Subsequently, the United Nation Secretary General has established a high-level panel consisting of 26 eminent persons, including representatives of governments, the private sector, academia, civil society and the youth to advise him on a practical development agenda beyond 2015.  The panel has been mandated to develop a report with recommendations on the vision and shape of a post-2015 development agenda; key principles of re-shaping the global partnership for development; the strengthening of accountability mechanisms; and how to build and sustain broad political consensus on an ambition to attain a post-2015 development agenda.

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Objectives and outcomes of the workshop


In this regard, the Department of Environmental Affairs is collaborating with National Cleaner Production Centre is convening a workshop to consider Rio+20 outcomes and the national sustainable development strategy and action plan. The following key processes as established by the UN General Assembly will be discussed and frame the elements on South Africa’s position;

  • integration of the sustainability information into the reporting systems of companies (government, stakeholders to develop models for best practice and facilitate action for the integration of sustainability reporting); 
  • defining the high-level forum ‘s format and organisational aspects (high level political forum will replace the erstwhile United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development);
  • establishment of an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on sustainable development goals;
  • establishment of an intergovernmental process under the United Nations General Assembly to assess financing needs with options on effective sustainable development financing;    
  • Identification of options for facilitation mechanism that promotes the development, transfer and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies  by, inter alia , assessing the needs of developing countries, options to address them and capacity building;  

The expected output of the workshop is a principle document of South Africa’s position for further elaboration and roadmap for the implementation of Rio+20 in contributing and aligning to the existing national sustainable development strategy related interventions. 

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Linking the national strategy for sustainable development and UNCSD outcomes


NSSD1 5 priorities Rio+20 framework for action and follow-up Means of implementation Themes from WSSD 2002 to RIO+20 2012
  1. Enhancing Systems for Integrated Planning and  Implementation
  2. Sustaining Our Ecosystems and Using Natural Resources Efficiently
  3. Towards a Green Economy
  4. Building Sustainable Communities
  5. Responding Effectively to Climate Change


  1. Poverty eradication
  2. Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture
  3. Water and sanitation
  4. Energy
  5. Sustainable tourism
  6. Sustainable transport
  7. Sustainable cities and human settlements
  8. Health and population
  9. Promoting full and productive employment, decent work for all and social protection
  10. Oceans and seas
  11. Disaster risk reduction
  12. Climate change
  13. Forests
  14. Biodiversity
  15. Desertification, land degradation and drought
  16. Mountains
  17. Chemicals and waste
  18. Sustainable consumption and production
  19. Mining
  20. Education
  21. Gender equality and the empowerment of women
  1. Finance Technology
  2. Capacity Building
  3. Trade


  1. WSSD 2002: Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
  2. CSD 12 and CSD 13 2004-2005: Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation
  3. CSD14 and CSD 15 2006-2007: Energy for sustainable development, Industrial development, Air pollution/atmosphere and Climate change
  4. CSD 16 and CSD 17 2008-2009: Agriculture, Rural development, Land, Drought, Desertification and Africa
  5. CSD 18 and CSD 19 2010-2011: Transport, Chemicals, Waste management, Mining, Sustainable Consumption and Production
  6. RIO+20 2012: Green economy and institutional framework


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