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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development Scenarios for Rio+20 - A Component of the SD21 project

Publication Year: 2013 Publisher: UN-DESA


This report is the result of a collaborative effort of 49 global modellers and scenario analysts. It draws lessons from 40 years of global sustainable development scenarios based on 98 models, with a particular focus on the most recent scenarios, many of which have been created specifically for the UN Conference for Sustainable Development, informally referred to as “Rio+20”. Scenarios are documented in terms of ultimate goals, visions, strategy (including goals and targets), pathway characteristics, and policies and actions, as well as investment needs. Past trends towards sustainable development are compared with baseline scenarios for the future and contrasted against sustainable development scenarios. Synergies and trade-offs are discussed for a range of clusters of sustainable development goals. A case is made for renewed efforts to create global sustainable development scenarios that can build on synergies and resolve the most important trade-offs, in support of the development of the Sustainable Development Goals, envisaged at Rio+20. Reflections are offered on how to improve the science-policy interface, by creating a better “team” of scenario analysts, scientists and policy makers. The report concludes with issues for consideration.