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The ESDN Quarterly Reports provide in-depth documentation of a selected topic on a quarterly basis. The current ESDN Quarterly Report is displayed below. For previous ESDN Quarterly Reports click here.

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ESDN Quarterly Report March 2012

Renewing the commitment for SD: Stock-taking of international and European SD objectives and goals pre-Rio+20

by Andreas Endl, Gerald Berger & Michal Sedlacko

In the light of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20), this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview on precedent international and European policy documents that include objectives on how to achieve sustainable development. As part of the preparation for Rio+20, the development of a global set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could assist in focusing the broad international sustainable development agenda at a practical level. Thus, in answering the recent development on SDGs, the QR investigates trends on identified SDGs among international and European SD policy documents and their link to two recent Rio+20 proposals for SDG sets. With regard to SDGs, among international SD declarations, such as the Stockholm 1972, Rio de Janeiro 1992 and Johannesburg 2002 declaration, an important evolution took place: the dominance of SDGs related to fundamental human rights, economic development and socio-economic development increased over time 'at the expense' of SDGs related to environmental issues. Furthermore, SDGs originating from Rio+20 proposals are well addressed by similar or identical counterparts in the most important international policy documents over the last 40 years. The acceptance and agreement on these SDGs as a common ground of discussion could act as a catalyst for further negotiations on time-bound and measurable targets. This step will be a critical challenge as well as opportunity to further spur effective implementation of a sustainable development agenda.

The introductory chapter of this QR gives an overview about the historical development, the concepts and models related to sustainable development. In the second chapter, the relevance of SDGs as well as their importance in the process of political agenda setting is discussed. The third section summarizes international SD declarations with regard to 1) the context of their development, 2) the actors and institutions involved in the process of delivering the document, 3) the political commitment attributed towards the identified SDGs, and 4) associated frameworks for implementation. In this regard, a comprehensive comparative analysis is conducted in order to reveal the evolution of already existing SDGs and SDGs developed through recent Rio+20 proposal. Some conclusions and highlights of the analysis are presented at the end of the report.

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