Colombia set the tone for the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, widely known as Rio+20, by spearheading a major environmental proposal that elicited a positive response from the summit’s secretary general.

Colombia’s proposal, presented in tandem with the government of Guatemala, suggested that the 190 attending countries define “aspirational sustainable development goals, or objectives, at a broad level,” according to a UN brief. A major tenet of the proposal is that states come to”an agreement on a mandate to define subsequently (post-Rio) how these goals, or objectives, would be further developed, and on a process that could converge with the revision of the MDGs,” referring to the Millennium Development Goals, eight development objectives that all 193 UN member states have agreed to complete by 2015.

Sha Zukang, Secretary General of Rio+20, which was named after 1992’s UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, praised Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his government’s environmental initiative. “After my brief speech at the summit, Mr. Sha Zukang, approached and said ‘look at President Santos, you belong to a country that is not the largest in the world, but you made the largest proposal at this conference and it seeks to achieve what we all hope to improve in the world, development on our planet,'” said Santos.

Colombia’s proposal came after 17 months of work and touches on important issues like energy, water conservation and developing sustainable cities.

The Rio+20 conference ends Friday.

From Colombia Reports