Sustainable Development Conferences


As a major stakeholder in sustainable development, UNEP has been engaged in sustainable development programmes and activities since 1980 when together with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and World Wildlife Fund it adopted decision 8/11 of April 1980 on the World Conservation Strategy, which initiated the concept of sustainable development. UNEP subsequently adopted decision 9/1/II of May 1981 on interrelationships between people, resources, environment and development, which stressed the need for immediate operational content to new concepts and demonstrate “the validity of the interrelationships approach in making possible sound, sustainable and rapid development.


UNEP was instrumental in the establishment in 1983 of the World Commission on Environment and Development, which in 1987 published Our Common Future – the UN seminal report, which popularized sustainable development. Subsequently to the work of the Commission, UNEP was involved in the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, the 1997 Rio +5 Summit, and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. In almost two decades since the 1992 Earth Summit, significant progress has been made and yet many challenges in the implementation of sustainable development.



United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (Rio +20)
In December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/64/236, which among others, provides for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in 2012 in Brazil. UNEP is one of the UN funds and programmes, which are actively involved in support member states to prepare for the conference, which is popularly known as Rio +20 because it provides the international community with the opportunity 20 years the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges.


UNEP is playing a key role in the preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in response to decisions by the UNEP Governing Council and General Assembly resolutions. In the Nusa Dua Declaration, adopted by the Eleventh Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council in February 2010, the Ministers of Environment and Heads of Delegations welcomed "the decision to organize the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. We support and encourage the active and effective participation of UNEP in the preparatory process for the Conference on Sustainable Development as called for in General Assembly resolution 64/236 of 3 December 2009, and the full and effective contribution of UNEP to the programme of work outlined for the eighteenth and nineteenth sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development."


In its resolution 65/162 on the Report of the UNEP Governing Council on its Eleventh Special Session, which was adopted on 20 December, 2010, the General Assembly called "for the active and effective participation of UNEP in the preparatory process for the Conference." It also invited "UNEP to contribute, notably by providing ideas and proposals reflecting its competencies, experiences and lessons learned, to the preparatory process for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012."


UNEP has undertaken comprehensive work related to the two themes of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, namely green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The UNEP work on green economy and on international environmental governance is available at:



The UNEP New York Office liaises closely with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and 2010 Conference Secretariat in the preparatory process. The Office has and will continue to facilitate interactive dialogues on the conference’s two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. The Office contributes to the UNEP work on the green economy and international environmental government (IEG), both of which are of relevance to the Rio +20 process.

The UNEP New York Office facilitates strategic synergies in the efforts of the Member States to strengthen international environmental governance. Every year, it either drafts reports of the Governing Council on decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly, or facilitates the processing of GC reports to the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It works closely with member states in consultations on draft resolutions on UNEP and subsequent adoption of such resolutions, contributing to the growing body of soft law on international environmental governance.[UN1] 


Munyaradzi Chenje is the Head of Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the UNEP New York Office. Before the current assignment, he was the Head of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Coordination Section in the UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) at UNEP HQs in Nairobi, Kenya. He coordinated the preparation of and co-edited the fourth Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development (GEO-4) assessment report. Between 2003 and 2005, he was the UNEP Africa Regional Coordinator for environmental assessment. Before joining UNEP in 2000, Chenje was the director of the Musokotwane Environment Resource Centre in Southern Africa based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Chenje’s expertise is in environmental assessment and governance processes. He is a member of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences and the IUCN Commission on Education and Communications.