GLOBE-Net, July 5, 2012 - Sustainable
development cannot be left to the governments of nation states
alone, argued Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand,
Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
and the Chair of the United Nations Development Group.
She said that the importance of water management and sustainable
environmental development to cities could not be
Ms Clark was speaking at the dialogue session 'In Conversation:
Governance in Sustainable Development', moderated by Professor
Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Singapore, at the Singapore International
Water Week, World Cities Summit
and CleanEnviro Summit
Ms Clark reiterated her belief in the importance of managing
growth. "We can't plan for a sound economic and social future
unless we take the environment very seriously indeed," she
Fresh from her participation last month at Rio+20, the United
Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Ms Clark
acknowledged the difficulty of reaching binding inter-government
agreements at international conferences. This was mitigated in her
opinion by Rio+20's success in giving a platform to subnational
"It brought together tens of thousands of people from every
level of society and government to talk about the future of our
world," said Ms Clark.
The importance of sustainable
development to cities was a recurring theme during the discussion
with Prof Koh. For all the advances in green technology, both Ms
Clark and Prof Koh agreed that governance is key to long-term
In her work on water governance with UNDP, Ms Clark identified
building capacity to maintain and sustain infrastructure as the
weak link that needs strengthening.
Capacity building in water management requires a
"multistakeholder approach" believes Ms Clark, so that it can be
applied to different situations and environments.
Building the necessary institutional architecture is of
particular priority to cities. In an increasingly urbanised world,
the bulk of the world's next two billion citizens are going to be
living in cities. Developing them sustainably is essential: "We
need to get this right," said Ms Clark. Speaking to CNBC after the
debate, Ms Clark identified Singapore's "strong governance" and the
city-state's prioritisations of water management as examples of how
properly designed cities can be sustainable.
For Ms Clark, local and national governmental leadership are
vital to sustainable development. For example, sustainable
technology must be accompanied by political will and an inclusive
approach that listens to the needs of the public.
"Equity and sustainability are linked," said Ms Clark, and
economic development cannot be at the expense of human development.
Ms Clark referred to Ethiopia and the Cambodian capital, Phnom
Penh, as examples of balancing economic growth with both
environmental protection and responding to people's needs and
Ensuring a sustainable future will require that both people and
governments are included in the process. Said Ms Clark: "We have to
go to zero on extreme poverty and hunger to have any hope of
building a more just world."
The Singapore International Water Week, World Cities Summit
and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore ran concurrently from July 1 to 5,
2012. This article was offered through SOLUTIONS, produced by
NOVUS Media Solutions.