President Tarja Halonen focused on political leadership of sustainable development. She argues that sustainable development should not be thought of as one entity, but as an integrated whole. The need for stronger leadership is obvious, especially in politics. Halonen calls for generic changes in political decision-making. Good governance is at the heart of sustainable development, and all governments should advance its basics to empower people to make sustainable choices. Better accountability in political and economic decision-making is also a part of the transition towards sustainable development.

Helen Clark discussed sustainable development with the aim of going from shared principles to practice. It included the threefold development agenda which addresses social, economic and environmental concerns. Clark referred to the post-2015 development framework and environment, the SDGs and the role of governance and political leadership in sustainable development, the different measures of development (e.g. GDP versus HDI), and the prospects of the Rio +20 conference. The cause to be advanced at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development is to figure out how to accelerate human progress while sustaining the planet’s ecosystems. Sustainability should not be treated merely as an environmental issue.

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