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What is Sustainable Development?

Background & Preparations
UNESCO at Johannesburg
Alliances & Partnerships

UNESCO's Priorities
Educating for Sustainability
Scientific Dimensions
Ethical Principles
Cultural Dimensions
Media and ICTs

Some Action Themes
Biological Diversity
Fresh Water
Local and indigenous knowledge



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Home > Background and Preparations - Updated: 21-08-2002 8:09 am
A number of documents, position papers and a resolution of the UNESCO General Conference (see Publications in Resources - right column) provide background and context for UNESCO’s contributions to the Johannesburg Summit.  

The nature of the preparatory process had been such that UNESCO and the other agencies of the United Nations system have been led to adopt a flexible approach to determining how to most usefully contribute to the Summit.

It was only at PrepComs 2 and 3 that the broad themes of the Summit began to become clear. It is for this reason that the Organization’s specific contribution to the Summit was still being finalized at the time that this document was being written (mid-April 2002).

Sustainable development is an overarching concept that cuts across all UNESCO’s major programme areas. For this reason, the Director-General established an intersectoral Task Force on Sustainable Development to promote and coordinate UNESCOwide preparation for the Johannesburg Summit.

A UNESCO position paper entitled “Enhancing Global Sustainability, Position Paper and Proposals by UNESCO to the third session of the Preparatory Committee for WSSD” was prepared and widely circulated at PrepCom 3 as well as to Permanent Delegations, National Commissions, and NGOs in formal relations with UNESCO. This position paper – based largely on the Medium-Term Strategy – highlights six areas of particular relevance for UNESCO action with regard to WSSD:
  • educating for sustainability;
  • promoting and applying science for sustainable development: science policies and capacity-building;
  • developing ethical principles and guidelines for sustainable development;
  • sustaining the world’s freshwater and marine resources and their supporting ecosystems (including small island developing states);
  • ensuring sustainable development through cultural diversity;
  • contributing to sustainable development through the media and information and communication technologies.

    A short history of UNESCO's culture and development agenda
    From early work on intercultural dialogue as a key strategy for peace building to the 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and its emphasis on culture as a full-fledged resource for development.
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Environment and Development - Rio+5
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Food Security
    World Food Summit - Rome, Italy 1996
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Food Security - Rome+5
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Housing and Settlements
    Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) - Istanbul, Turkey, 1996
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Human Rights
    World Conference on Human Rights - Vienna, Austria, 1993
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Human Rights - Vienna+5
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    International Conference on Population and Development - Cairo, Egypt, 1994
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Population - Cairo+5
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Social Development
    World Summit for Social Development - Copenhagen, Denmark, 1995
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Women - Beijing Conference
    Fourth World Conference on Women - Beijing, People's Republic of China, 1995
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Women - Beijing+5
    >> More info   >> Go to website

    Report to the UNESCO Executive Board (May 2002) - by UNESCO
    In Document 164 EX/45 (dated 3 May 2002), the Director-General summarizes the preparatory process and expected outcomes of the World Summit. More

    UNESCO Position Paper and Proposals to WSSD PrepCom 3 (March 2002) - by UNESCO
    ‘Enhancing Global Sustainability’, the title of a UNESCO position paper and proposals prepared for and widely distributed at the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit (New York, 25 March-5 April 2002) More

    Director General Address to Permanent Delegates (7 March 2002) - by UNESCO Director General
    Address on ‘UNESCO preparations for and contribution to the World Summit on Sustainable Development’. More

    Director General Note on Co-ordination of Preparatory Activities for the World Summit (January 2002) - by UNESCO Director General
    DG/Note/02/02 of 16 January 2002, indicating that interdisciplinarity and intersectoral co-operation should be the hallmarks of UNESCO’s preparations of, and follow-up to, the Summit, and creating an intersectoral task force for this purpose. More

    General Conference Resolution 31 C/40 (November 2001) - by UNESCO
    Resolution on ‘Sustainable Development and the Johannesburg Summit 2002’, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at the thirty-first session on 2-3 November 2001. More

    Agenda 21, Chapter 35 (Science for sustainable development) - by UN ECOSOC
    ‘Science for sustainable development ‘ is a chapter of Agenda 21 where UNESCO has acted as inter-agency task manager. More

    Agenda 21, Chapter 36 (Education, public awareness and training) - by UN ECOSOC
    Since the Rio Conference of 1992, UNESCO has acted as inter-agency task manager within the UN system for Chapter 36 of Agenda 21. In this function, reports on ‘Education, public awareness and training have been considered at various sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development. More

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    UNESCO Position Paper and Proposals to WSSD PrepCom 3 (March 2002)

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