Lahore, April 24, 2013 (PPI-OT): Dr. Adil Najam, Vice Chancellor of the Lahore Univeristy of Management Sciences (LUMS), has just co-authored – with Mark Halle and Christopher Beaton – a report titled The Future of Sustainable Development: Rethinking Sustainable Development after Rio+20 and Implications for UNEP. Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), one of the world’s leading think tanks on issues related to environment and development, the report reviews the health of the central concept of ‘sustainable development’ and looks towards the future to see how it can be revitalised to its now-lost glory.
The publication of this report follows soon after the publication of two edited books by the LUMS Vice Chancellor. In April 2013, Duke Univeristy Press published ‘How Immigrants Impact their Homelands’ edited by Prof. Susan Eckstein and Dr. Najam. Earlier, in December 2012, Zed Books, London, had released ‘The Future of South-South Economic Relations’, edited by Dr. Najam and Rachel Thrasher.
The publication leads directly from meetings held at LUMS between the authors when Mark Halle and Christopher Beaton of IISD visited LUMS in October 2012 and a subsequent ‘retreat of thought leaders’ held in Abu Dhabi in December 2012.
The Abu Dhabi meeting was coordinated by the authors and included a handpicked selection of leaders and experts from around the world. The participants came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including present and former ministers of environment and development, senior UN officials, corporate CEOs, senior academics and leaders of major civil society organistaions. The executive director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, played an active part in the discussions and was accompanied by staff from his Executive Office.
The focus of the discussion, as of this report, was the future of sustainable development, especially in light of then recently concluded Rio+20 conference of 2012 and the implications on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). Dr. Najam, is a global expert on these issues and remained internationally and nationally active in the deliberations on these issues.
The Future of Sustainable Development argues that the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in June 2012—commonly referred to as Rio+20—left many perplexed. It goes on to say that “if a number of advances were made, the results fell well short of what is needed to redirect the global economy onto a sustainable course. Given that 20 years have passed since the Earth Summit, and 25 since the Brundtland Commission launched the notion of sustainable development, clearly something is not working.”
The authors then say that it is time for the sustainable development community to ask itself some tough questions: Why is sustainable development not “selling”? How might we re-envision the concept for the world of today? And what does this imply for organisations like the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), whose mission both contributes to, and depends on, the realisation of sustainable development? In the first part, the report proposes strategic ideas on how sustainable development in general might more effectively be catalysed. In the second, it considers how UNEP in particular might best respond to the post-Rio+20 world.
Mark Halle is Vice President, International, Dr. Najam is a Senior Fellow, and Christopher Beaton is Research Officer at IISD. Dr. Najam has collaborated with IISD on a number of important reports and events on global environmental governance.
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