Prof. Adil Najam, the Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future and a Boston University Professor of International Relations and of Geography and Environment, was invited by the United Nations to speak to delegates at the First Intersessional Meeting for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (popularly called Rio+20 and to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012). Held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on January 10-11, 2011, the Intersessional brought together delegates from UN Member States and a select group of experts, including Prof. Najam, were invited to present to them about the two key themes on the Rio+20 Agenda: Green Economy and Institutional Frameworks for Sustainable Development.
On 24 December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 64/236 agreeing to convene the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in 2012 in Brazil. The UNCSD will mark the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference specifically having the word “environment” in its title, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972. The UNCSD will also mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.
The discussion on institutional frameworks was chaired by PrepCom Co-Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) and included presentations from Prof. Adil Najam (Pardee Center, Boston University), Olav Kjorven (UNDP) and Jan-Gustav Strandenaes (Northern Alliance for Sustainability, ANPED). According to a report of the event in the Earth Negotiation Bulletin, “Adil Najam, Boston University, noted that the institutional framework should consider the differences faced at earlier conferences and summits in addition to challenges of growth. In anticipation of the UNCSD he suggested creating ‘second generation’ institutions, explaining that existing ones should be evaluated and strengthened rather than dismantled.” Prof. Najam stressed that Rio+20 provides an opportunity to make development a truly central and integral piece of environmental governance and reminded the delegates that Rio+20 is supposed to be a ‘sustainable development summit’, not an ‘environmental summit.’
The Boston University Pardee Center is playing an active role in the preparations for the Rio+20 Summit. The Pardee Center edits and publishes the series ‘Sustainable Development Insights’ and is an academic research partner in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Knowledge Partnership (SDKP). In addition, the Pardee Center has been focusing its research on both the Rio+20 themes: Green Economy and Institutions for Sustainable Development.