13th – 14th November 2008: Stakeholder Forum with support of the Basque Government hosted an informal multi-stakeholder workshop on 13th - 14th November 2008 in San Sebastian to kick-start discussions on the realisation of an Earth Summit in 2012.

The workshop convened representatives of governments, civil society, intergovernmental organisations and UN agencies to discuss the challenges that lie ahead. Nitin Desai, former Secretary General of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 contributed to the discussions via video-link, as did John Scanlon, Principal Advisor to the Executive Director at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

All participants expressed overriding support for the hosting of a Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2010, and the discussions and proposals that arose in the meeting were captured in the ‘Donostia Declaration’ – a document making the case for a Summit and providing recommendations as to its focus.

The Donostia Declaration has since been translated into five languages and is one of the only documents produced that was based on interaction between governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. Enshrined within the Donostia Declaration is the principle of multi-stakeholder dialogue and a common vision.

The workshop in San Sebastian followed a similar pattern to those organised by Stakeholder Forum from February 1998 to April 2000, leading up to the World Summit in 2002.

In 1998 governments recovering from a less than successful Rio+5 were apprehensive about the need for a Rio+10. As governments attending the workshops discussed the possibilities of a Summit, that apprehension turned into enthusiasm. It became clear that the sustainable development agenda needed an influx of energy to focus governments, intergovernmental organisations and stakeholders into addressing why much of the Rio Agenda 21 was not being implemented, and, importantly, it was recognised that a Summit was needed to address new and emerging issues.

The workshops created a necessary space for discussion and drafted 'non-papers' identifying topics for the agenda, and also drafted decisions on the operational nature of the World Summit in 2002.