Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Sustainable development

FAN has been coordinating civil society inputs into the United Nations Commisssion on Sustainable Development (CSD) negotiations since Germany hosted the International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn in December 2001. 

What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (United Nations  Brundtland Report, 1987) 

In this sense the term 'sustainable development' contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

The United Nations 2005 World Summit Outcome Document refers to the "interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars" of sustainable development as economic development, social development, and environmental protection.


Sustainable Development Goals

Engage in Sustainable Development Goal consultations

Stakeholder Forum's E-inventory

FAN Global partner Stakeholder Forum is coordinating an online consultation, called the E-inventory, on the Sustainable Development Goals. They have now published their analysis of the proposals submitted to the E-inventory to date showing how often issues are mentioned - the full breakdown can be found on the Sustainable Development 2015 website. At the moment, water is the 10th most mentioned issue - as it appears in 23 proposals - and although sanitation is not far behind in the number of mentions, 21, this is not quite enough to ensure that it appears in the top 10 list. If you haven't already done so, there is still time (until September 2013) for you to submit a response into this

Open Working Group consultations

The United Nations General Assembly has established an Open Working Group (OWG) that will focus on the design of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection. The group will be holding four meetings between now and February which will include one-hour briefings for cvil society. The will also hold two one-day interactive consultations with civil society; the first will take place in October on margins of the first expert meeting on financing for sustainable development and a second meeting in January. To replace out more, contact one of the representatives of the NGO major group.

FAN engagement in the CSD process

Find out about FAN activities and related news and analysis:

What is the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development?

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established by the UN General Assembly in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which aimed to help governments rethink economic development and replace ways to halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet. 

The 2012 UNCSD conference, which also took place in Rio twenty years later, was dubbed Rio+20. Read our Rio+20 briefing page

The Commission is responsible for reviewing progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; as well as providing policy guidance to follow up the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) at the local, national, regional and international levels. 

CSD meetings

The CSD meets annually in New York, in two-year cycles, with each cycle focusing on clusters of specific thematic and cross-sectoral issues, outlined in its new multi-year programme of work (2003-2017). These meetings are known as sessions. 

Water in the CSD process

The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development, also known as the Dublin Principles, was adopted by the United Nations in January 1992 at the last technical preparatory meeting before the UNCED conference.  

The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development recognises the increasing scarcity of water as a result of the different conflicting uses and overuses of water. The Statement is, however, most referred to as the UN document that declares water a finite natural resource with economic value. The 'Dublin Principles' have had a marked impact on the water supply sector. 

In 2001, Germany hosted the International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn, also known as Dublin + 10 to take stock of progress made on water issues and sustainable development and to prepare the international community for the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) agenda on water.

See Water for Basic Needs Commissioned by the World Health Organisation as input to 1st World Water Development Report

Download the ministerial declaration from the International Conference on Freshwater, Bonn (PDF 66Kb)

Further reading

Find out more about CSD on the UN website