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GSP Report Calls for Making Social and Environmental Costs Transparent

30 January 2012: The UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) has released its final report, titled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.” The report's 56 recommendations seek to mainstream sustainable development into economic policy, by integrating social and environmental costs into pricing and measuring of economic activities.

The Panel's Co-Chairs, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Tarja Halonen of Finland (via video), presented the report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a launch event at the African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 30 January 2012.

The report opens with the Panel's argument that “by making transparent both the cost of action and the cost of inaction, political processes can summon both the arguments and the political will necessary to act for a sustainable future.” The long-term vision of the Panel is to: eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries.

The report then reviews progress towards sustainable development and “drivers of change,” including production and consumption patterns, resource scarcity, innovation, demographic change, changes in the global economy, green growth, growing inequality, changing political dynamics and urbanization.

The panel's recommendations to reach its vision are outlined in three sections addressing: Empowering people to make sustainable choices; Working towards a sustainable economy; and Strengthening institutional governance.

Its recommendations for governments include: developing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to monitor progress, as well as sustainable development indicators that go beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and replacing the Commission on Sustainable Development with a global sustainable development council. Recommendations to the Secretary-General call for a regular Global Sustainable Development Outlook report, and for consideration of a new Science Advisory Board or Scientific Advisor.

Receiving the report, Secretary-General Ban asked the panel members to “continue to champion their recommendations” and called on all sectors of society to join in the effort. He also noted that the Panel's request that he establish a task force to define new SDGs for the post-2015 period was a prominent feature of his five-year Action Agenda, as announced on 25 January 2012. [Publication: Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [UN Press Release] [IISD RS Story on Action Agenda of UN Secretary-General]