A sunflower blooms in front of a solar panel. Photo by: Sterling College / CC BY

2011 was an action-packed year for the international development community. Much of it led up to two massive gatherings happening almost simultaneously just a few weeks ago: the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, and the U.N. climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. Both events produced agreements that, despite their imperfections, broke some new grounds and set new paths for development cooperation.

There’s little time to rest, though, as next year promises to be as busy and consequential as 2011.

For one thing, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation endorsed in Busan is expected to be finalized in June 2012.

And, around the same time, perhaps the year’s most anticipated gathering will happen in Brazil: the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.

Expectations are high for Rio+20: Expected is no less than a blueprint for sustainable development and an agenda for action that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals post 2015. The gathering has two main themes, the green economy and the creation of an institutional framework for sustainable development.

On Dec. 15, the United Nations officially launched negotiations for the document delegates are meant to ratify in Brazil. The initial draft will consolidate ideas from 672 contributors, including international agencies, interest groups, nongovernmental organizations and member states.

The U.N. is encouraging public participation ahead of the summit through a campaign dubbed “The Future we Want.” It invites people and institutions to share their ideas on sustainable development through photos, letters, essays and drawings, among other media. These would be collected and combined for an exhibit to be displayed in Rio.

Universal access to sustainable energy is fast becoming a buzz topic in international development. The United Nations, after all, has declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. The global body defines sustainable energy as “energy that is produced and used in ways that will support long-term human development in all its social, economic, and environmental dimensions.”

With this designation, the U.N. General Assembly recognizes the importance of universal energy access to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and promoting sustainable development.

Activities to mark the year are led by the interagency body U.N.-Energy. One key initiative is, in fact, led by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.N.-Energy and the U.N. Foundation: the Sustainable Energy for All initiative aims to rally governments, civil society and the private sector around a common goal of achieving universal access to sustainable energy. By 2030, the campaign sponsors hope to see universal access to modern energy services, to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and to double renewable energy’s share in the global energy portfolio.

A related initiative is the public-private Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves led by the U.N. Foundation and supported by various partner such as the U.S. Department of State. Among the public-private partnership’s ambassadors is Hollywood actress Julia Roberts.

Read our previous DevTrivia.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.