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State of the Planet Conference Reviews Solutions

11 October 2012: Addressing the State of the Planet 2012 Conference, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson reviewed the failures and gaps in international cooperation for environmental protection and human well-being, especially on climate change, hunger and biodiversity, but said it is not too late to apply solutions. The Conference took place in New York, US, on 11 October 2012, hosted by Columbia University.

Giving the keynote address, Eliasson highlighted the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer as proof that the international community can successfully tackle a challenge like climate change. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provided another example that political will and specific, measurable targets can yield results, he said.

Building on these lessons, Eliasson called for: a strategy for the post-2015 period that builds on the MDG platform and is centered on equity, sustainable development and human rights; a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or targets on the basis of the outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20); and a convergence of these two “tracks” in the coming year or so.

He also underscored the need for peace in conflict-affected countries and better embedding of the rule of law, noting their importance to sustainability and all three pillars of the UN's work.

The conference also included a panel discussion on the SDGs with: Amina Mohammed, Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning; Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) (via video); and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Royal Hashemite Court, Amman-Jordan, also participated via video.

The State of the Planet Conference is held every two years by Columbia University's Earth Institute. It aims to assesses the state of global, natural and human systems and identify factors central to achieving sustainable development. [Statement of Deputy Secretary-General] [State of the Planet Conference Website]