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UN Commission on Sustainable Development

In June 2012, Brazil will host the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as “Rio+20.” The Conference will mark the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, and the 10th anniversary of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

Learn more about EPA's work on Rio+20.

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) Exit EPA disclaimerwas created following the June 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Earth Summit. The UN General Assembly formatlly established CSD in December 1992 to review progress on commitments made at the Earth Summit, and subsequently at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002.

In 2003, a multi-year programme of work (2004-2017) was adopted for the CSD. The CSD now meets annually in two-year Implementation Cycles, with each cycle focusing on a thematic cluster alongside cross-sectoral issues.

Each cycle is comprised of a Review Year and a Policy Year. The Review Year evaluates progress made in implementing sustainable development goals and identifying obstacles and constraints, while the Policy Year provides recommendations to increase implementation and mobilize action to overcome these obstacles and constraints.

USG representatives provide information to CSD Delegates on U.S. programs related to CSD themes, at on-site information display at U.N. Headquarters as part of CSD 17 in 2009. (Credit: Andy Clark, USDA, NIFA, SARE)

A new two-year cycle began in 2010. In 2011, the 19th Session of CSD, known as UNCSD-19 Exit EPA disclaimer, was held at UN Headquarters in New York, from May 2-May 13.

EPA played an integral role in negotiating policy options in five thematic areas, in addition to participating in multi-stakeholder dialogues with Major Groups, High-Level Segments with Ministerial Roundtables, and Learning Centers. The Commission negotiated policy recommendations in five thematic areas:

After extensive negotiations, no agreement was reached at UNCSD-19. However, key elements of the draft negotiating text are being reconsidered in the context of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, commonly referred to as Rio +20, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

Learn more about EPA's work on Rio +20.

Case studies on results for each of these topics are described below.

Transport: SmartWay: Freight and Supply Chain Sustainability

The US EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership is a market-based, public-private partnership designed to help the goods-movement sector address growing concerns over volatile energy prices and growing climate risk, and to meet demands from customers, shareholders and other stakeholders to reduce carbon footprints and emissions associated with transporting freight.

smartway logo

The program promotes advanced technologies and operational strategies which are used by transportation providers to save fuel and money. SmartWay certified trucks, trailers and light duty vehicles are among the most fuel efficient vehicles available in the marketplace. The freight industry uses SmartWay technolgies and practices to save money by reducing fuel use, while creating a more sustainable freight sector and improving energy security.

EPA is working with a range of international stakeholders to leverage the SmartWay program model for global freight sustainability programs, including the World Bank, Clean Air Initiative – Asia; the EU; and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

Key partners:
US Environmental Protection Agency, American Trucking Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, major transportation companies, i.e., carriers (trucking and rail), manufacturers, retailers, i.e., shippers and logistics firms, trade and industry groups.

Learn more: SmartWay Transport Partnership

Chemicals: U.S. Efforts to Manage Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil

Lead is a toxic metal that is used in products and can be found in and around homes. Lead also can be emitted by motor vehicles and industrial sources, and can enter drinking water from plumbing materials. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures. Children six years old and under are most at risk.

    Lead in paint PSA
  • Lead-based paint is a hazard if it is peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking, or if it is on surfaces that children chew or that get a lot of wear and tear.
  • Dust can become contaminated with lead when lead-based paint is sanded or when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can gather on surfaces and objects that children put into their mouths.
  • Soil can become contaminated when exterior lead-based paint from houses, buildings, or other structures flakes or peels and gets into the soil. Soil near roadways may also be contaminated from past use of leaded gasoline in cars.

Even though the use of lead in paint was essentially banned in the U.S. in 1978, there are still 38 million housing units that have lead paint. Despite efforts to reduce exposure, lead paint poisoning affects over one million children today. Low-income and African-American children are disproportionately affected.

As of April 2010, contractors who disrupt more then six square feet of lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to use lead-safe work practices in order to prevent lead contamination.

WHO and UNEP are establishing a Global Alliance Exit EPA disclaimerto promote phasing out of the use of lead in paint with U.S. support.

Key Partners:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), States, Tribal Governments, Lead Abatement Professionals, Lead Renovation Professionals, General Public.

Learn more about how to reduce lead paint exposure: http://www.epa.gov/lead

Waste Management: Food waste recovery

Food wastes are the organic residues generated by the handling, storage, preparation, cooking, sale, and serving of foods. EPA and USDA estimate that the US spends about one billion dollars a year to dispose of food waste. Americans throw away more than 25 percent of the food we prepare: about 96 billion pounds of food waste each year, according to the USDA.

EPA and its partners recommend following the "food waste recovery hierarchy" to reduce food waste and to make the most of excess food:

food recovery

  • Source Reduction - Reduce the amount of food waste being generated;
  • Feed People - Donate excess food to food banks, soup kitchens, shelters;
  • Feed Animals - Provide food scraps to farmers;
  • Industrial Uses – E.g., provide fats for rendering and fuel and food; and
  • Composting - Recycle food scraps into a nutrient rich soil amendment

EPA is building a network of experts in all facets of food recovery and food waste management, and promoting implementation of the Food Recovery Hierarchy by those in food serve and sales industries. EPA also promotes the donation of surplus food from restaurants, grocery stores, and cafeterias to food banks, pantries, and kitchen for those in need. U.S. federal and state laws help protect businesses, organizations, and individuals that donate food in good faith from legal liability that might arise from their donations.

Key partners:
U.S. EPA; other Federal Agencies; State, Local, and Tribal governments; trade organizations; non-government organizations; individuals

Learn more: http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery

Mining: Small Scale Gold Processing Shops in Peru

About 20% of the world's gold is produced by the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector. This sector is also responsible for the largest releases of mercury to the environment of any sector globally. Located in over 55 countries, small scale gold buying and refining facilities (commonly referred to as “Gold Shops”) are an important part of this production process, and are a major cause of air pollution from mercury. The burning of mercury-gold amalgam in these Gold Shops can have serious health effects both locally and globally.

Jerome Mercury Vapor Analyzer

To reduce airborne mercury emissions from these Gold Shops, EPA and the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) have partnered to design a low cost, easily constructible technology called the Gold Shop Mercury Capture System (MCS). The MCS was piloted and tested in Amazonian gold producing regions in Brazil and Peru, and in the Andes in Peru. Field tests in Puerto Maldonado and Laberinto, located in the Amazon, in Madre de Dios, a major gold producing region from ASGM of Peru, showed that mercury levels were reduced about 80%. Similar results were shown at high altitude in Puno, in the Peruvian Andes. The technology is now being disseminated through a series of workshops and demonstrations around the country, hosted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines of the Government of Peru.

EPA is working through the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership, the SAICM Quick Start Program, and other collaborations to disseminate information on the MCS and encourage its use in the context of national and community-based efforts to address artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Key Partners:
US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, and the Government of Peru. Useful information on the range of best practices for artisanal gold mining is available through the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership, the Communities and Small-Scale Mining Program (CASM) of the World Bank, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Learn more: Reducing Mercury Pollution from Gold Mining

Sustainable Consumption and Production: E3 – Economy, Energy, and Environment

E3 is a coordinated federal and local technical assistance initiative that helps communities work with their manufacturing base to adapt and thrive in a new business era focused on sustainability. Joining forces with the local community, E3 provides manufacturers with customized, hands-on assessments of production processes to reduce energy consumption, minimize their carbon footprint, prevent pollution, increase productivity, and drive innovation. E3 serves as a unique model by working directly with local communities and businesses and streamlining the delivery of the best available technical assistance for manufacturers across five federal agencies.

solar panels

By participating in E3, communities are able to improve the profitability and competitiveness of existing manufacturers and enhance their ability to attract new business. E3 stimulates the local economy by creating new, well-paying jobs and by helping to retain existing ones.

  • In Columbus, Ohio, E3 assessments at six manufacturers that employ more than 1,000 local residents identified opportunities to save an average of $800,000 per facility.
  • Within a few months after completing the assessments, two of the suppliers have already saved $240,000 by implementing E3 recommendations.
  • In San Antonio, Texas, nine facilities that participated in the program in 2009 are expected to save more than 2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough electricity to supply 2,500 homes in San Antonio for about a month.
  • Facilities will save an estimated $300,000 annually and could recover the capital costs associated with implementing the improvements in an average of less than two years.

E3 is offered by the Green Suppliers Network (GSN), a collaborative program with industry supply chains to assist manufacturers with lean and clean assessments.

Key Partners:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL); Local Communities and Businesses; Local Technical Assistance Providers

Learn more: www.E3.gov Exit EPA disclaimer


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For additional information on EPA's work with the CSD, contact:

Hodayah Finman
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
E-mail: finman.hodayah@epa.gov
(202) 564-6600

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