World leaders, activists, and opinion-makers gathered in Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 (20-22 June 2012). Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment was part of the delegation. Below you will find what the EU Council of Ministers called the EU delegation to develop and how health fit into the Rio+20 negotiation process and actions to include NCDs in the post-2105 development framework. Commissioner Potnick called for new indicators to be used when they become available.
Prior to the UN Conference, the Environment Council adopted its Council Conclusions on Sustainable Development. This gave the EU delegation a strong mandate from the EU Council of Ministers to push for a commitment to develop other means of measuring progress beyond GDP that demonstrate a more accurate picture of the inter-linkages between the environmental, economic and social aspects of wealth, welfare and well-being. To compliment this, Ministers further called for “the gradual elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies that are incompatible with sustainable development.”
They stated that an inclusive, green economy provides opportunities to create an inspiring new global model of growth essential to promote equitable growth, sustainable consumption and production. The Council Conclusions also highlighted the importance of the involvement of trade unions and civil society in the negotiation process and in the follow-up of Rio+20 and the implementation of the commitments made. Furthermore ministers called “to promote enhanced access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice.”
Coinciding with the Rio Conference, the International Diabetes Federation launched its “Diabetes and Climate Change Report” at Rio+20.
In parallel, the NCD Alliance developed a briefing to explain how combating non-communicable diseases fits into the sustainability agenda. Its key messages were:
Sustainable development includes improving the health and wellbeing of present and future populations.
NCDs are linked to all three pillars of sustainable development: economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection.
Integrating NCD prevention and control into sustainable development policies and frameworks will be co-beneficial and produce added value for all.
NCD Alliance Key Recommendations for Rio+20:
Integrate health and NCDs into existing and future sustainable development policies and frameworks.
Improve social protection mechanisms, particularly access to universal health care, that will enable people to adequately prevent and control NCDs.
Reduce exposure to the modifiable risk factors through agricultural policies that ensure food security and prevent land degradation, urban planning and transport policies that promote healthy and active cities, and policies that reduce pollution and support access to clean energy.
NCD alliance side events at Rio+20
“Health within the Green Economy: Multisectoral Frameworks for NCD Control & Sustainable Development”Co-organized with the American Cancer Society, this panel will discuss how multisectoral frameworks for sustainable development can help create environments that promote health and help prevent and control NCDs. There will be a focus a specific focus on three development challenges: nutrition, healthy cities, and tobacco control.
“Next Generation Living: Exploring integrated solutions to NCD prevention and development” Organized with the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, the Global Health Council, Novo Nordisk and Sustainia, presenters will highlight co-beneficial solutions that can be implemented in the workplace, schools, and cities. There will be keynote remarks from Sir George Alleyne, EU Commissioner for Climate Action Ms. Connie Hedegaard.
The World Health Organization was also involved in the Rio+20 process to highlight the link between health and sustainability. The WHO developed a briefing for member countries.
Universal health coverage can support sustainable development: a healthier population contributes more effectively to economies and societies.
Health in the green economy: some green economy measures, such transport networks for walking and cycling, can yield very large health "co-benefits", e.g. for physical activity. Other measures may pose risks for health that need to be managed. For instance, employees may face new risks, such as exposures to toxics used in emerging technologies.
Health-based measures of sustainable development: Tracking and monitoring of health based indicators/measures – such as the proportion of people exposed to high rates of urban air pollution, or workers’ exposures to air pollutants/toxics – can help us evaluate progress towards sustainable development that brings optimal human welfare.
Health and Sustainable Development - Reinforcing the Links, a side event, was organised by The WHO, the Brazilian Ministry of Health, and FIOCRUZ (National School of Public Health)
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Conference outcomes: The future we want, from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) recognises the importance of health to create inclusive, equitable, economically productive and healthy societies.
For example, paragraph 141:
“141. We acknowledge that the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases constitutes one of the major challenges for sustainable development in the twenty-first century. We commit to strengthen health systems towards the provision of equitable, universal coverage and promote affordable access to prevention, treatment, care and support related to non-communicable diseases, especially cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. We also commit to establish or strengthen multi-sectoral national policies for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. We recognize that reducing, inter alia, air, water and chemical pollution leads to positive effects on health.”