The UN Commission on Sustainable Development
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The UN Commission on Sustainable Development Contesting Claims of (Il)-legitimacy and (In)-effectiveness Södertörn University College 25 September 2008 Sylvia Karlsson [email protected] Finland Futures Research Centre Turku School of Economics Finland. Outline. Introducing the CSD

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The UN Commission on Sustainable Development

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The un commission on sustainable development

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development

Contesting Claims of (Il)-legitimacy and (In)-effectiveness

Södertörn University College

25 September 2008

Sylvia Karlsson

[email protected]

Finland Futures Research Centre

Turku School of Economics

Finland


The un commission on sustainable development

Outline

  • Introducing the CSD

  • Locating CSD among global norms and institutions

  • Effectiveness and legitimacy as analytical criteria

  • CSD post Rio

  • CSD post Johannesburg

  • CSD 14/15

  • Conclusion and the future of CSD?


The un commission on sustainable development

Introducing the CSD

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)

Created by General Assembly in 1992 at the

request of UNCED (the Earth Summit in Rio) after

heavy opposition from e.g. UK, US, Sweden

Set up as a functional Commission of ECOSOC

with 53 Member States and rotating membership

Meets two weeks every year

(in New York in April-May)


The un commission on sustainable development

Introducing the CSD

  • Functions include:

  • monitor progress in the implementation of Agenda 21

    and activities related to integrating environment and

    development goals throughout the UN system

  • review progress in the implementation of the

    commitments of Agenda 21 including provision of

    financial resources and technology

  • receive and analyze relevant input from competent

    NGOs, including scientists and the private sector

  • provide appropriate recommendations to ECOSOC

    and GA on e.g. the need for new cooperative arrange-

    ments related to sustainable development (sd)


The un commission on sustainable development

Norms and institutions

Norms are developed in different types of institutions

and come in various shapes and forms along the

soft-hard continuum

The CSD can be called a:

  • a semi-universal institution (but in reality

    universal) bringing the baggage of ECOSOC weakness

    and General Assembly 2nd committee style negotiations

  • which generates an outcome in the form of non-legal soft law (and later some other diffuse stuff)


The un commission on sustainable development

Analytical criteria I:

Mechanisms of norm effectiveness

Influencing the motivation to comply

Mechanism

changing material incentives

(rationalism, logic of consequences, actor interests not assumed to change)

hard sanctions (-)

soft sanctions (?)

systems of reward

(-)

changing identities or preferences

(constructivism, logic of appropriateness, actor interests are assumed to be changeable)

webs of dialogue (++)

legitimacy pull (+?)

Influencing the ability to comply

capacity of intervention

technical and human capacity building (-)

political capacity building (?)


The un commission on sustainable development

Analytical criteria II: Components of legitimacy

Source of legitimacy

Components

Source based legitimacy

expertise (+-?)

tradition (+-)

discourse (+-)

host organization (+)

Input legitimacy

(process based)

governmental participation (+)

non-governmental participation (+)

transparency (+)

accountability (-)

Output legitimacy

(substance based)

effectiveness (+-)

equity (?)


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD post Rio (1993-2001)

  • Major achievements:

  • Recommended a legally binding status for PIC (1994)

  • Established an Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

    (1997) which led to the UN Forum on Forests (2000)

  • Set a date for governments to produce their NSDSs

  • Put three new themes on the sd agenda; energy,

    transport and tourism (1997)

  • Institutionalised multistakeholder dialogues (1998)

  • Included sd in the UN Consumer Guidelines (1999)

  • Supported the Washington Declaration on the Global

    Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine

    Environment from Land Based Activities (1999)

  • Elicits (some) reporting from countries and IGOs

  • Encourages system-wide coordination (first years)


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD post Rio (1993-2001)

  • Reported problems:

  • Overburdened agenda, lack of prioritising

  • Limited funding for secretariat etc.

  • ”Development plays second fiddle”

  • Limited or no use of submitted reports (which are

    too general anyway)

  • ”When one is living in a glass house one does not throw

    stones”

  • No links to the follow-up of other conferences

  • Symbolic multistakeholder dialogues

    (no real listening)

  • Weak involvement of IFIs and weak monitoring of

    financial and tech transfer committments


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD post Rio


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD post Johannesburg (2003-2017)

In Johannesburg in 2002 format changed, now

two year cycles on specific themes;

Review Year followed by a Policy Year

Regional dimension strengthened

More major group dialouges

New elements in partnership fair, sharing and

learning centre

Two and a half cycles have run so far. Mixed outcome.


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD 14/15

Themes:

energy for sustainable development

industrial development

atmosphere/air pollution

climate change

Cross-cutting themes (same every year):

poverty eradication, changing unsustainable

patterns of consumption and production, health,

SIDS, Africa, institutional framework, gender

equality, education and more...


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD 14/15

  • A day at the CSD:

  • Morning briefing by delegation (or your major group)

  • Picking up the daily programme, ENB etc.

  • 10-13 Statements, dialogues or negotiations (or

    partnership fair, learning center, partnership

    presentations)

  • 15 minutes for lunch

  • 13.15-14.45 Side-events (or networking, interviewing or

    lobbying)

  • 15-18 (same as before lunch)

  • 18.15-19.45 Side-events

  • Dinner (if you are lucky)


The un commission on sustainable development

CSD 14/15


The un commission on sustainable development

Conclusions effectiveness

Very mixed picture on effectiveness:

  • effective in giving some new issues an institutional

    space and the beginning of a normative framework

  • partially effective in strengthening sd in the UN System

    and strengthening inter-agency coordination

  • largely in-effective in reviewing implementation and

    eliciting ’compliance’ at national level (although this is

    debated)


The un commission on sustainable development

Conclusions legitimacy

Legitimacy points from:

  • United Nations setting

  • Strong multi-stakeholder involvement

  • Focus on partnerships (for some)

Illegitimacy points from:

  • Dominance of the environment agenda (for some)

  • Weak monitoring (specially of financial commitments

    and tech transfer)

  • Being a talkshop with little influence (for some)

  • Lack of CSD 15 outcome

  • CSD 16 Chair election


The un commission on sustainable development

The future

A show case of strengthening global deliberative

democracy or a complete waste of time and resources?

Eternal reform discussions...so the future is open


The un commission on sustainable development

Beyond Words…?


The un commission on sustainable development

Thank you!

[email protected]


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