Remember that Pointer Sisters song from the 1980’s, “We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it”, the one that you used to do your aerobics classes to? OK, many of you are probably not old enough, but for some it comes to mind now.
The outcome of the Rio+20 conference has few whole-hearted or out-spoken fans and it is not our business here to judge the rights and wrongs of that. But for the team behind Greening the Blue, The Future We Want outcome document contains one small but significant paragraph: paragraph 96. It sits in a sub-section, “International financial institutions and United Nations operational activities” of Section IV: Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.
Starting from para 91, the sub-section talks about the mainstreaming of sustainable development throughout the UN system and related entities. Member states invite the governing bodies of UN organizations to consider appropriate measures for integrating the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development across the operational activities of the UN system. Para 96 then says:
"We call on the United Nations system to improve the management of facilities and operations, by taking into account sustainable development practices, building on existing efforts and promoting cost effectiveness, and in accordance with legislative frameworks, including financial rules and regulations, while maintaining accountability to Member States."
All the UN system focal points for environmental sustainability management and, of course, the members of the SUN team, are rightly seeing this as an important step forward. Our work to date has been recognised, it has been endorsed, and member states are asking us to do more and even better. We possibly belong to a rare breed, but this is music to our ears. Our mission has been confirmed and we look forward to taking our efforts to the next level.