Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals: Towards a New Social Contract

Submitted by admin on 29. June 2013 - 1:22

Reims Sustainability Vision [download as pdf]

On 19-20 June 2013, the International Research Centre on Sustainability ( at the University of Reims, France, organized the Third Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies, with the theme of "Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals: Towards a New Social Contract", under the patronage of the President of France. There were 15 speakers at the two-day meeting, including Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia (Scientific Director, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam), Carlos Lopes (Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa), Leena Srivastava (Vice-Chancellor of TERI University and Executive Director of The Energy and Resources Institute -TERI in New Delhi), well-known researchers on sustainability governance like Peter Haas (U. Massachusetts), Liliana Andonova (The Graduate Institute, Geneva) and Frank Biermann (VU Amsterdam), and two IEF members: Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen of Wagenigen University in the Netherlands, and IEF President Arthur Dahl from Geneva, Switzerland. IEF member Jon Marco Church, an Assistant Professor at IRCS, was on the organizing committee and chaired one session.

Speakers Carlos Lopes, Leena Srivastava and Carlo Rubbia; afternoon panel chaired by Jon Marco Church, with Peter Haas, Liliana Andonova and Frank Biermann

Arthur Dahl's presentation was on "Putting the Individual at the Centre of Development: Indicators for a New Social Contract", and his written paper is available on the IEF web site at Sylvia's paper was on "Legitimacy of Global Energy Governance". The programme (1.2 mb) can be downloaded here, and most of the presentations can be downloaded from the IRCS web site at….

At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants adopted the following Reims Sustainability Vision as a summary of their deliberations.


Conclusions of the Third Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies
about the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 Development Agenda

Download as pdf

Building on the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, its outcome document The Future We Want and the post-2015 Development Agenda, particularly regarding Sustainable Development Goals,

Seeking to contribute to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals,

Believing that the new social contract represented by the future Sustainable Development Goals should apply universally, regardless of a person’s citizenship or place of residence,

Emphasizing the importance that some basic ethical principles underlie this new social contract,

Recognizing the need to support concrete means to facilitate social and economic justice, as declarations of ideals are not sufficient,

Recognizing the importance of facilitating local and regional adaptations of global sustainable development principles and goals,

Emphasizing the role of regional organizations, alongside global and national actors, in promoting and supporting the implementation of sustainable development goals,

Reminding the international community about the impact of globalization and the role of multinational corporations, as it will be impossible to get rid of poverty, ad-dress malnutrition, deal with greenhouse gas concentrations without significant changes to the international corporate space,

Reminding in particular about the role of large media corporations and about the importance of their accountability to make key sustainability issues visible to and understood by the larger public,

Reaffirming that the Sustainable Development Goals are not only about setting goals, but also about identifying legitimate processes to reach them and that aspects of these processes that need careful attention include (1) participation and dialogue (how can communities be engaged in a way that empowers them to identify their own goals and development pathways among and beyond the goals), (2) transparency and accountability (how governance process on issues such as energy that are traditionally confined to small groups of closed networks be opened up and made transparent and accountable towards those whose lives their decisions influence), (3) equity and fairness (how can gender equity be achieved in the governance processes around Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in areas where they are in considerable minority such as energy),

Considering that, while there must be room for a sectorial approach, integrated and overarching goals would go a long way in addressing the environmental challenges the world is facing, for example, (1) providing universal access to all such services that are essential for the survival and development of an individual, including water, energy, food and nutrition and health care, (2) protecting the rights of all vulnerable groups, especially women, children and minorities, through the development, for example, of an aspirational model rights framework, which should recognize issues of culture and national sovereignty, (3) moving towards maximizing resource efficiency,

Being aware of the importance of resilience of mountain, arctic, island, coastal and other particularly vulnerable regions to global environmental change such as global warming and, hence, the importance of paying special attention to fostering and monitoring sustainable development in these areas,

Recalling the focus on planning of the First Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies in 2011 and the focus on governance of the Second Rencontres in 2012,

The participants in the Third Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies, held in Reims on 19-21 June 2013, recommend decision-makers to

1. Develop goals that have a sound scientific base and strong inner consistency in order to ensure that they are truly sustainable and not just a random list of priorities for the international community;

2. Develop indicators of development that address the facilitating conditions for every person to rise out of poverty;

3. Adopt targets and indicators for sustainable lifestyles that respect planetary resource limits as well as infragenerational and intergenerational equity;

4. Promote access to information and justice, as well as transparency also in subsidy allocation, to ensure broad and meaningful public participation in decision-making;

5. Reinforce democratic and participatory institutions as key for advancing sustainable development integrating the social, economic and environmental dimension though a Sustainable Development Goal specifically dedicated to en-sure good governance and effective institutions;

6. Reinforce development goals and augment them with targets and indicators of sustainability;

7. Restructure the energy sector in a manner that energy is provided sustainably in a manner that does not emit greenhouse gases;

8. Ensure that energy has a place of its own among Sustainable Development Goals through an overarching goal of sustainable energy for all, as recommended by many: while energy access and consumption is not an end in itself, it is a means to many ends, as many Millennium Development Goals in the field of poverty, health and environment are intimately linked to the way energy is produced and consumed;

9. Ensure that a separate Sustainable Development Goal is dedicated to water, which is essential for life and has already been recognized as a human right, that the misunderstandings, which led water to be dropped from Millennium Development Goals and from the outcome document of Rio+20, are overcome using existing international legal instruments to go beyond these misunderstandings;

10. Ensure that education also has a strong presence in the framework, not only with quantitative goals, but also with qualitative ones, ensuring that education is built on values that unify rather than divide, that integrate rather than separate and that build capacities of individuals to serve their local and global community;

11. Ensure that a specific target on access to health services and a healthy environment is set because of its importance for sustainability;

12. Create mechanisms so that all corporate and private wealth and wealth creation around the world contribute their fair share to tax revenues to support public goods and collective services;

13. Require that all multinational corporations publish a sustainable development report integrated with their financial reports or explain why they are not doing so;

14. Valorize and compensate material and non-material ecosystem goods and services, particularly those originating in mountain, arctic, island, coastal and other environmentally valuable areas;

15. Enhance disaster risk reduction and preparedness in climate change-threatened upland, lowland and coastal areas and secure biodiversity corridors along altitudinal gradients;

16. Improve communication infrastructures, including access to broadband inter-net, in remote regions, especially mountain, islands and other remote and less inhabited areas to overcome the digital divide;

17. Envisagee goals for implementation at the community level through solidarity and empowerment;

18. Reinforce our thinking and dialogue on the content and substance of alternative long-term development goals for the long period, at the community, national and international level, as well as on new methods of planning aimed at translating broad objectives into practical, realistic and effective strategies;

19. Create an International Sustainability Panel to provide expertise for supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, to assess and identify urgent sustainability challenges and to help coordinate the multiple international science panels already providing valuable knowledge and epistemic support for ongoing efforts at environmental protection at the global level.

The following individuals contributed to the preparation of this document:
Liliana Andonova (Geneva, Switzerland), Frank Biermann (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Jörg Balsiger (Geneva, Switzerland), Jon Church (Rheims, France), Christian Comeliau (Geneva, Switzerland), Arthur Dahl (Geneva, Switzerland), Marc Dijk (Maastricht, Netherlands), Ladislau Dowbor (São Paulo, Brazil), Harris Gleckman (Boston, USA), Peter Haas (Amherst, USA), Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen (Wagenigen, Netherlands), Carlos Lopes (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), François Mancebo (Rheims, France), Alexander Mejia (Geneva, Switzerland), Thomas Perianu (Paris, France), Carlo Rubbia (Potsdam, Germany), Ignacy Sachs (Paris, France), Leena Srivastava (New Delhi, India)

Reims, 20 June 2013