International Framework for Sustainable Development

Switzerland proposes strengthening the international framework for sustainable development by creating a Sustainable Development Council. The concrete mandate and structure of such a Council will be subject to UN-led negotiations under the auspices of the UN General Assembly after the Rio+20 Conference.

“The status of sustainable development should be elevated within the United Nations institutional architecture and in country activities. The United Nations system must strive for greater integration, efficiency and coordination of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.”[1]

An effective follow up of the results of Rio needs a dedicated home in form of a Council for sustainable Development meeting the challenges of strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development – we make a case to both strengthen ECOSOC and establish a Sustainable Development Council.

  • ECOSOC is a crucial institution of the UN System. Its strengths relate especially to the monitoring of the UN development system’s operational activities, coordination of subsidiary bodies and oversight of specialized agencies, and many more;
  • Numerous reform processes and analyses of the ECOSOC have shown that it was not able to deliver efficiently, inter alia because its agenda is overloaded;
  • Ever adding new and important tasks leads to a further overburdening;
  • To give sustainable development a prominent home in the UN system and in global governance, the Sustainable Development Council would function as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly (no need of an amendment to the Charter).

The concrete mandate and structure of such a Council will be subject to UN-led negotiations under the auspices of the UN General Assembly after the Rio+20 Conference. However, at the Rio+20 Conference we could already agree on the core functions of the IFSD architecture and the distribution of task between the different relevant organs, namely the new Council, ECOSOC and the GA. An agreement on the core functions of IFSD is a necessary outcome of the Conference, regardless whether there is a decision on the creation of a Sustainable Development Council.

Martin Krebs, FDFA, Political Directorate, Deputy Head of Section, International Environmental Affairs (martin.krebs@eda.admin.ch)

Presentation of Martin Krebs.




[1] Paragraph 40, “Delivering as one”, 2006 (http://www.un.org/events/panel/resources/pdfs/HLP-SWC-FinalReport.pdf9.