George Russell
Fox News
December 19, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to change how it analyzes problems and makes decisions, in a way that will give it vastly expanded power to regulate businesses, communities and ecosystems in the name of “sustainable development,” the centerpiece of a global United Nations conference slated for Rio de Janeiro next June.

The major focus of the EPA thinking is a weighty study the agency commissioned last year from the National Academies of Science. Published in August, the study, entitled “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA,” cost nearly $700,000 and involved a team of a dozen outside experts and about half as many National Academies staff.

Its aim: how to integrate sustainability “as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA.” The panel who wrote the study declares part of its job to be “providing guidance to EPA on how it might implement its existing statutory authority to contribute more fully to a more sustainable-development trajectory for the United States.”

Or, in other words, how to use existing laws to new ends.

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RIO+20: United Nations June 20-22, 2012 Sustainable Development Summit Returns to Rio De Janeiro

U.N. Still Pushing ‘Sustainable’ Clamp Down A Generation After Agenda 21 Set by Maurice Strong and Other Top Technocrats


Objective & Themes

The objective of the Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges

The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Rio+20 Issues Briefs

The UNCSD Secretariat together with its partners has prepared a series of Rio+20Issues Briefs. The purpose of the Rio+20 Issues Briefs is to provide a channel for policymakers and other interested stakeholders to discuss and review issues relevant to the objective and themes of the conference, including a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, as well as the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The Issues Briefs can be accessed from the right side of this page. For overall information on the Rio+20 Issues Briefs, please contact Mr. David O’Connor, Chief, Policy Analysis and Networks Branch, Division for Sustainable Development at or Fax: + 1 212 963 4260.

Institutional framework for sustainable development

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), commonly referred to as the Rio Conference or Earth Summit, was a major success in raising public awareness on the need to integrate environment and development. In the preparatory process for the Rio Summit in 1992, there were a number of proposals for institutional reform to address the challenges of sustainable development. UNCED saw the adoption of a number of crucial agreements, including the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, and the landmark “Rio conventions” (CBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC). It also created new international institutions, among them the Commission on Sustainable Development, tasked with the follow-up to the Rio Conference, and led to the reform of the Global Environment Facility.

Ten years later, the concept of three mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development was incorporated into the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). The need to strengthen the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) is addressed in Chapter XI. Sustainable development was recognized as an overarching goal for institutions at the national, regional and international levels. The JPOI highlighted the need to enhance the integration of sustainable development in the activities of all relevant United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, and the international financial institutions, within their mandates. The IFSD discussion thus also encompasses the role of institutions comprising the economic and social pillars, e.g. considering how to step up efforts to bridge the gap between the international financial institutions (IFIs) and the multilateral development banks (MDBs), and the rest of the UN system.

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