This guide was jointly initiated by Stakeholder Forum and the Commonwealth Secretariat in response to the perceived ‘knowledge gap’ on the history and dynamics of global governance for sustainable development. A first edition was published in 2011 and this second edition was updated in February 2012.

As the‘institutional framework for sustainable development’ has been identified as one of the two core themes for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD 2012), it is hoped that this guide will provide necessary background information on global sustainable development governance to allow both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to familiarise themselves with key issues more comprehensively. The pocket guide can be read in English or Spanish.    

The topic of ‘sustainable development governance’ is potentially vast, as governance touches on almost all decisions and policy considerations at all levels. To make this guide manageable and accessible, we have tried to contain the number of issues addressed and have divided the guide into four distinct sections:

1. Global Institutions for Sustainable Development Governance

This section outlines the main global institutions that play a role in developing, reviewing, monitoring and implementing sustainable development at an international level.

2. Concepts for Sustainable Development Governance

This section covers the key concepts that are at the heart of sustainable development governance, which have guided much of the resulting activity on sustainable development at all levels.

3. Reform Proposals for Sustainable Development Governance

This section outlines the multiple proposals that have been put forward by a range of stakeholders for reform to global governance for sustainable development. It gives a flavour of each proposal and provides sufficient background information for readers to familiarise themselves with the main components of the proposal.

4. Processes for Sustainable Development Governance

The identification of the ‘institutional framework for sustainable development’ as one of the two key themes at UNCSD 2012 represents a specific intergovernmental process to address governance of sustainable development at the global level. This follows a history of processes and initiatives at the global level to address global governance for sustainable development. This section gives an overview of these processes and outlines some of the key outcomes.

Editors’ Note

It is important to note that the reform proposals outlined in this guide are not exhaustive. This is partly because the editorial process had to include some level of selection to avoid the publication becoming unwieldy. Some of the information contained in this updated version of the Pocket Guide may become redundant as a result of the outcome of the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012. The editors would like to thank the contributing authors of both editions.

The translation of this guide was made possible by the generous support of the European Union, DG Environment, which has provided funds to ensure representative, informed, enhanced and broadened participation and engagement of all stakeholders in the Rio+20 Earth Summit process.