Rio+20 – United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
IISD Linkages Daily Coverage of Rio+20: Third PrepCom and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
The Road to Rio™: Preparing for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
SciDev.Net Science & Innovation Policy: Science at Rio+20
George Monbiot: How “Sustainability” Became “Sustained Growth”
The Rio Declaration rips up the basic principles of environmental action.
In 1992 world leaders signed up to something called “sustainability”. Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: “sustainable development”. Then it made a short jump to another term: “sustainable growth”. And now, in the 2012 Earth Summit text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into “sustained growth”.
This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability.
$50 billion investment in sustainable energy is announced at Rio+20
More than $50 billion in pledges by more than 500 companies, organizations and governments have been announced at the Rio+20 conference to provide universal access to energy by 2030. “Investors in this space often see obstacles and risks that stop them investing in clean energy in Africa,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Clean energy will create new jobs and new livelihoods.” Read more from the United Nations. Bloomberg (6/22), Bloomberg Businessweek (6/22), Reuters (6/21), Google/Agence France-Presse (6/21)
Yes, there are things the Rio summit can accomplish
(Reuters The Rio process itself has sensibly evolved away from government decree and turned toward the private sector to build a green economy that can implement sustainability on a global scale. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t important things governments can do to make Rio’s goals a reality.
Many global businesses now recognize sustainability and equity as the only acceptable model of growth, and have adopted sustainable management of global supply chains as the “new normal.”
Alternative voices from Rio+20
While world leaders negotiate in the Rio+20 meeting halls, thousands of activists have launched ‘The People’s Summit’.
(Al Jazeera) “The development – the drilling, mining and damming – is affecting everyone, our communities and the Earth, our home and the only planet we have.”
The piercing voice of 11-year-old T’Kaiya is enough to grab the attention of delegates passing by. With the aptitude of a seasoned speaker, this young delegate from Canada comfortably commanded the following of environmental activists staging a sit-in at the Rio+20 conference.
T’Kaiya is in Rio to represent the Indigenous Environmental Network and to speak out against the controversial tar sands project being planned by an energy transport company, Enbridge, that involves a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific northwest coast of Canada.
“This pipeline puts in jeopardy, thousands of streams, 45 different indigenous cultures that have been practiced by my ancestors and their ancestors. I am shocked that people would jeopardise such pristine beauty and put a price tag on it,” T’Kaiya told Al Jazeera.
Leaders raise alarm at Rio+20 enviro summit
Leaders from the developing world sharply criticized their counterparts from richer nations during talks at the Rio+20 sustainable development conference on Thursday, citing what they said is the historic responsibility industrialized nations have to clean up the globe.
Delegates from developed nations, meanwhile, said that a rapidly changing economic order and the rise of nations such as China, Brazil and India means that all nations must work together in protecting the environment.
However, activists and many delegates blasted the document that will be signed at the conclusion of the three-day talks, which was finished by diplomats hours before the summit opened and won’t be formally debated by leaders before they approve it Friday, delegates said.
Youth and Civil Society Raise the Stakes for World Leaders to Stop a #RioFail
Call on leaders to put people ahead of polluters and make ambitious agreements
by Amara Possian
Jagdish Bhagwati: Rio’s Unsustainable Nonsense
(Project Syndicate) If George Orwell were alive today, he would be irritated, and then shocked, by the cynical way in which every lobby with an axe to grind and money to burn has hitched its wagon to the alluring phrase “sustainable development.” In fact, the United Nations’ Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development is about pet projects of all and sundry – many of them tangential to the major environmental issues, such as climate change, that were the principal legacy of the original Rio Earth Summit.
‘Rio+20 Has Become the Summit of Futility’
Twenty years ago, the United Nations summit held in Rio de Janeiro paved the way for landmark agreements on the climate and the environment. This year’s meeting, on the other hand, has been widely criticized for its lack of vision in the face of accelerating degradation of the planet. German commentators are critical as well.
Before Rio 1992, there was Brundtland
Some of the leading voices in global development have lined up to recognize Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, and a member of The Elders, for her role in bringing about the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. “She’s the mother of the idea of sustainable development. … She is, in a way, the godmother of everyone who thinks about the world’s future,” said Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation. Views And News From Norway (6/20)
Rio+20 Sees Largest Fossil of the Day Award Ever for Lack of Ambition in Rio Text
Amara Possian via PowerShift 2012
For the first time ever, every single country was awarded the Fossil of the Day. “Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, this fossil is for every single nation here and for all the world leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.”
Thousands of global citizens gather through Rio+Social to address sustainability challenges and build a better world
(UN Foundation) On June 19, Rio+Social catalyzed a global, online conversation among corporate and digital media leaders, civil society, celebrities, and government representatives to share solutions for pressing global challenges such as access to energy, affordable health care, a clean and safe environment, and education. By leveraging technological innovations that have become available since the original Earth Summit in 1992, Rio+Social is a critical step in opening this dialogue from the closed-door meetings of Rio+20 to people all over the globe. Read more.
Hopes for Rio+20 action face domestic concerns
The economic and political forces affecting many countries are limiting the potential of the Rio+20 summit as negotiators hash out an 80-page agreement by Friday that observers say is strong on ideas but weak on action. “We want there to be more ambition so that it actually leads to sustainable development. At the moment, there is a risk that instead of the future we want, we will go back to the past we had,” said an EU official. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (6/18), The Guardian (London) (6/18), Bloomberg Businessweek (6/19)
Alternative Peoples Summit a contrast to Rio+20
As roughly 50,000 representatives from governments the world attend the United Nations conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, an alternative conference — touted as the Peoples Summit, and funded by Brazil — offers a platform for decrying the inability of world leaders to take bold steps to end poverty and protect the environment. Organizers say government policies primarily serve businesses that exploit nature as a commodity. The Guardian (London) (6/18), Deutsche Welle (Germany) (6/18)
Rio 2012: it’s a make-or-break summit. Just like they told us at Rio 1992
World leaders at Earth summits seem more interested in protecting the interests of plutocratic elites than our environment
By George Monbiot
(The Guardian) We know it’s rubbish, but we allow our hopes to be raised, only to witness 190 nations arguing through the night over the use of the subjunctive in paragraph 286. We know that at the end of this process the UN secretary general, whose job obliges him to talk nonsense in an impressive number of languages, will explain that the unresolved issues (namely all of them) will be settled at next year’s summit. Yet still we hope for something better.
This week’s earth summit in Rio de Janeiro is a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago. By now, the leaders who gathered in the same city in 1992 told us, the world’s environmental problems were to have been solved. But all they have generated is more meetings, which will continue until the delegates, surrounded by rising waters, have eaten the last rare dove, exquisitely presented with an olive leaf roulade. The biosphere that world leaders promised to protect is in a far worse state than it was 20 years ago. Is it not time to recognise that they have failed?
Rio+20 People’s summit gathers pace
The counter conference is designed to foster alternative ideas and provide an outlet for discontent
Rio+20 deal would beef up UN Environment Programme
A draft agreement making the rounds at the Rio+20 sustainable development conference would strengthen the UN Environment Programme by making membership universal and guaranteeing a stable budget that would provide for the promotion science programs and the sharing of information. The draft would expand measures to protect the oceans, and talks over new sustainable development goals were ongoing. The Guardian (London) (6/18), Google/Agence France-Presse (6/17)
Science in play as countries struggle over Rio accord
(Nature) The 2012 Earth Summit is less than four days out, and nobody appears to have any idea how things are going to come together. The goals are hardly ambitious: produce a simple statement regarding humanity’s commitment to sustainable development, register a series of voluntary commitments by governments, businesses and anybody else who cares to sign up, and perhaps launch formal negotiations on a few key issues. It’s not like anybody is proposing a new treaty, but the world has yet to exorcise ghosts that have haunted environmental talks dating back to the original Earth Summit in 1992.
Rio+20 must succeed, Ban declares
The Rio+20 conference is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for world leaders to agree on at least a basic plan for sustainable economic development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on the eve of the conference opening. Negotiations have been slow, Ban acknowledged, adding, “It’s only natural that when you are dealing with so important, so serious, matters that you have to address these issues until the last minute.” The Guardian (London) (6/15)
The High Stakes of Rio+20
By Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary- General and UN Environment Program Executive Director
(Project Syndicate) With just weeks to go before the Rio+20 Earth Summit, many are speculating about how many world leaders will show up and what kind of agreements they might reach on the key agenda items: creating a “green economy” and establishing an “international framework for sustainable development.” It is no coincidence that these two items appear side by side.
Rio+20 solutions too Northern, say South Asian analysts
(SciDev.net) T Jayaraman, a professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, wrote in a commentary in India’s Economic and Political Weekly (3 June)
“The North is in the process of rewriting the intellectual and ideological terms of discourse of sustainable development in general and in specific areas such as climate change
“The developing countries have, however, little by way of knowledge capacities to fall back on, in terms of alternative viewpoints and perspectives and detailed policy research based on them.”
Rio+20 – a Call to Responsibility, a Call to Action
By Federico Mayor Zaragoza and Mario Soares*
(IPS) – We are all going through a period of great confusion and uncertainty.
On the one hand, part of the world is dramatically affected by the consequences of governments’ total submission to the financial markets. These markets, supposedly anonymous, are not subject to any kind of control, due to the deregulating policies of the last decades. They have even overthrown democratically elected governments and substituted them with “technocratic” ones.
On the other hand, the speculative nature of a great part of these markets is harshly affecting the price of commodities, including food, thus pushing millions more people to hunger and malnutrition. This fact, in addition to chronic failure in the fulfillment of international agreements related to development cooperation, is aggravated even more by the current financial and economic crisis.
Parallel to this, the world is immersed in yet another crisis that is threatening its own survival. The challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, together with unsustainable production and consumption models, are growing alarmingly, something that the present structures of global governance are not able to face, as shown by the repeated failures of the last COP meetings.
Elders focus on bridging divides ahead of Rio+20
Two members of The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders, write that June’s Rio+20 Conference “provides a historic opportunity to chart a sustainable future for the world.” Governments can “accelerate the progress of the past two decades” and bridge divides over how to curb unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, write Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil, who identify five areas upon which they believe the Rio summit should focus. The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (5/28)
Rio+20 must address the process of change, not just its content
The launch of a discussion website about the Rio+20 agenda raises questions about effective management for a successful outcome.
(SciDev.net) A few weeks ago, the Government of Brazil, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, launched an interactive website intended to support discussion in the lead up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which takes place next month.
Rio+20 is a chance to become more sustainable, says WWF report
Humanity’s patterns of migration, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are outpacing the Earth’s ability to replenish itself, according to a report by the conservation group WWF. “The Rio+20 conference next month is an opportunity for the world to get serious about the need for development to become sustainable. Our report indicates that we haven’t yet done that since the last Rio summit,” said David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF’s U.K. office. The Guardian (London) (5/15), AlertNet/Reuters (5/15)
Rio+20 agreements could help end climate denial
The upcoming Rio+20 conference could help to overcome skepticism about global warming, especially in the U.S., said Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “You really have to embark on a process of evolution, a process of understanding and education, and I expect Rio+20 will be able to do. I see this as the start of a process rather than a culmination,” said Pachauri. AlertNet (5/4), The Guardian (London) (5/6)
UN data could make ocean conservation a Rio+20 issue
Only about 1.6% of the world’s oceans have been designated as protected areas, well short of the goal of 10% by 2020 under the international Convention on Biological Diversity, according to the United Nations Environment Program. The latest data on the pace of protecting marine ecosystems, which are increasingly threatened by overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and global warming, could make ocean conservation a hot topic at next month’s Rio+20 sustainability conference. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Green blog (5/4)
Cities Will Determine Success After Rio+20
(Carnegie Institute) Cities are the 21st century site of global economic growth and job opportunities, and where billions of people will seek to improve their quality of life. In the next 35 years, the fastest rates of urban growth will be in Asia and Africa, where populations are not yet majority urban. At the same time, mature economies will need to renew their infrastructure to meet ever-changing environmental and economic opportunities and challenges.
… How to help cities ensure Rio+20 successes
Ultimately the success of the policies agreed upon at the upcoming Rio+20 summit in Brazil will fall to the world’s cities, particularly in Asia and Africa. The international community can help cities achieve their sustainability goals by de-carbonizing transportation systems, removing barriers to local development financing schemes and encouraging the transfer of knowledge among urban centers
Expert: To tackle development, first start with economics
The goals of the upcoming Rio+20 conference in Brazil are centered on development and the environment, but the solutions are political and economic, says climate expert Saleemul Huq, of the International Institute for Environment and Development. Because emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India are “not part of the old system,” Huq says, environmental activists can look to solicit their support. AlertNet (4/26)
Cities and Regions together towards Rio+20
A High-level Local and Regional Authorities’ delegation presented eight recommendations to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to achieve sustainable cities and regions.
Host Brazil eyes global consensus at Rio+20
Rich and poor countries must unite at the upcoming Rio+20 conference to promote sustainable development in an effort not only to protect the environment, but the global economy, said Andre Correa do Lago, chief negotiator for Brazil. While the summit will primarily attract leaders of government and business, he said, “the average citizen [should] realize that all the options of consumers have an impact on sustainable development … the cars they buy, the trip they make, how they heat water in their homes.” Google/Agence France-Presse (4/11)
London conference builds momentum for Rio+20
Scientists, business leaders and government officials at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London warned Thursday in a declaration that the world was speeding toward crises to water, food and biodiversity, and that new solutions are needed to “safeguard Earth’s natural processes to ensure the well-being of civilization.”
EU Pledges Strong Support for Earth Summit
(IPS) – European leaders have mapped out a bold agenda ahead of the Rio summit, vowing to transform development aid, help provide renewable electricity to the world’s neediest people, and bulk up the United Nations environment body.
The European Union’s ‘Agenda for Change’ proposal calls for pumping foreign aid into sustainable growth and energy access, while European Union officials have also floated the idea of transforming the U.N. Environmental Programme into an agency with expanded influence and greater power to promote research and development.
After Durban, Latin America Looks Towards Rio+20
By Ede Ijjasz-Vásquez*
(Tierramérica) This June in Rio de Janeiro, delegates will address the protection of the environment as part of the development process. The conference is better known as Rio+20, because it is taking place two decades after a similar summit where participating countries first adopted the concept of sustainable development as the only way to build a more just and viable world.
This includes dimensions related to health, housing, air pollution, management of the seas, forests and mountains, desertification, water resources management, sanitation and waste management.
The world is moving dangerously close to the limits of the unsustainable use of natural resources, and we could reach a point from which there is no turning back. These issues impact on quality of life and the struggle that still must be waged against poverty and inequality, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Despite the fact that Latin America produces relatively clean energy in most of its countries, and proportionally contributes substantially less than other regions to climate change, it is one of the regions most severely affected by the consequences of climate change.
* Ede Ijjasz-Vásquez is the World Bank director of sustainable development for Latin America and the Caribbean
The threat of Rio+20 to water
(rabble.ca) The recently released negotiating text — also known as the “zero draft” — for Rio+20 states: “We underline the importance of the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. Furthermore, we highlight the critical importance of water resources for sustainable development, including poverty and hunger eradication, public health, food security, hydropower, agriculture and rural development.”
while the United Nations General Assembly has now recognized the human right to water and sanitation, 41 countries — notably Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, United Kingdom. and the United States — abstained from that July 28, 2010 vote. In many cases, including Canada, that abstention was clearly understood as opposition to the right to water and sanitation.
Rio+20 to shift focus to development
The UN’s upcoming Rio+20 conference will focus on sustainable development, not climate change, although goals such as conserving resources and reducing emissions are still on the agenda. United Nations Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth said, “The debate’s changed because of China, India, Brazil and South Africa, the very rapid and surprisingly powerful growth of the newly industrialized countries.” A draft document recently released for the June summit outlines seven main issues, including jobs, energy, food, water and disasters. Reuters (1/24), The Washington Post/The Associated Press (1/24)
Climate change as a human rights issue
In an interview, Mary Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights, talks about the unique vulnerability of African women to the effects of climate change. She points to the nongovernmental Gender Is My Agenda Campaign as a means to galvanize advocacy for the needs and interests of African women — such as access to electricity and renewable energy — in the run-up to the Rio+20 summit. AllAfrica Global Media (1/14)
SPECIAL REPORT: The Nordic Countries Are Supporting Sustainable Energy, Fighting Climate Change, and Looking Forward To Rio + 20 In 2012
(Baltic Review) Whether it’s Norway’s High-level Conference on “Energy For All” in Oslo, Denmark’s Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen, Sweden’s role in generating power for a sustainable future, Finland’s leadership on the Global Sustainable Energy Panel, or Iceland’s non-stop efforts to halt soil erosion and restore land quality, the global spotlight right now is on the Nordic countries, the 2011 Climate Change Conference taking place in Durban, South Africa and next year’s Rio + 20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held on June 20-22 in Brazil
UN Launches Campaign for Rio+20 Featuring Global Conversation on the Future We Want (.pdf)
Campaign will engage people to contribute ideas for new visions of a sustainable future
The UN also unveiled its new website, linking the Rio+20 Conference and The Future We Want project. The website also serves as a platform for informing the public about several key sustainable development issues, including cities, disaster resilience, energy, food, jobs, oceans and water. A wide range of actions on these key issues will be presented at Rio+20.
Sustainable innovation: the key to global development
Next year’s Rio+20 meeting must put science-based innovation at the heart of the development agenda. But the real battle will be political.
In an ominous sign of things to come, last week’s G20 meeting of the world’s leading economies in Cannes, France was dominated by discussion of the financial turmoil in Europe — overshadowing a debate, for which many had hoped, on the future of global development.
Rio Earth Summit postponed after clash with Queen’s diamond jubilee
Rio+20 dates rearranged to avoid jeopardising the attendance of 54 Commonwealth leaders, including David Cameron
Brazil has postponed the biggest environmental summit in 20 years to avoid a clash with the Queen’s diamond jubilee.
(The Guardian) The Rio+20 summit was scheduled for 4-6 June but has been moved to 20-22 June to avoid jeopardising the attendance of 54 Commonwealth leaders, including David Cameron. But Cameron, who said last month that he would not attend, is still not planning to attend, Downing Street said on Monday, despite his pledge to lead the “greenest government ever”.
Though Brazil has not officially confirmed the date change, president Dilma Rousseff indicated at the G20 meeting in Cannes on Friday that the summit would be postponed. Asian governments also asked for the new date following the next G20 summit which is to be held 18-19 June in Mexico. The Guardian understands European governments are already working to the new dates.
A Rio+20 Activist Manifesto and Action Plan
By Bhaskar Menon
(IPS Op-ed) – Unless civil society activists launch their own programme of action at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro next summer (Jun. 4-6), the event will be little more than an expensive talkfest.
That is because government delegates at the conference will not address the matter of reorienting the world economy, a task the United Nations has acknowledged is essential to deal with the growing crisis of environment sustainability.
The secretary-general’s report submitted earlier this year to the committee preparing for the conference noted that to succeed in “fundamentally shifting consumption and production patterns onto a more sustainable path”, public policy would have to extend “well beyond ‘getting prices right’”.
Nature worth billions, says environment audit
(FT) Nature provides ‘free services’ to Britain’s economy worth tens of billions of pounds a year – from recreational amenities to crop fertilisation and water purification
Kelly Rigg: Countdown to 2012: The Road to Rio +20
In exactly one year’s time, world leaders will converge on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the UN conference on sustainable development, 20 years after the first “Earth Summit” was held there in 1992. Will this turn out to be another “Copenhagen moment” for the climate movement? Most people I speak to think it will not deliver the treaty we all hoped to get in Copenhagen, but with record levels of carbon emissions creating new climate disasters every day, it’s certain Rio +20 will present a moment for decisive action.
The Food Debate and Rio+20: Both Sides Now
HuffPost) Though there is much excitement about the potential of the gathering to bring timely and pressing environmental issues to the fore, some of those who will be in attendance are not at all happy with the direction in which they believe the meetings are likely to go — that is, nowhere. They will be using the next year to plan their descent upon Rio to shake things up.
Via Campesina — an independent international peasant movement dedicated to the principles of food sovereignty, comprised of more than 150 million farmers and producers — is already preparing its arsenal. The group and its allies are hoping to come together in force at Rio+20 — which will include discussions of food security and poverty alleviation — next summer to intervene, voicing their opposition to the development community’s track record of land grabs, environmental degradation, and displacement of subsistence and small farmers.
Still Awaiting a Roadmap for Sustainable Development
(IPS) – The road to the crucial Rio+20 conference on greening the world economy next year has hit a setback with the breakdown of the 19th session of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development after 10 days of intense negotiations.
No decisions were adopted at the session, also known as CSD-19, which ran from May 2-13 in New York and examined consumption and production, transport, chemicals, waste management and mining.
It was the last time the commission meets before the June 2012 Rio+20 Conference, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil.
The Renewable Future
By Achim Steiner, Helen Clark and Kandeh K. Yumkella
… diverse national policies can achieve only so much. International policies, including the lending decisions of the World Bank and regional development banks, must evolve, as do the strategies of the UN and bilateral donors.
The importance of moving forward to a new global climate agreement in Durban, South Africa, this year cannot be underestimated. A comprehensive agreement would bring certainty to the carbon markets and strengthen the various mechanisms that are already encouraging renewables in developing economies and pump-priming private-sector investments. The Rio+20 meeting in Brazil next year is another opportunity to spark the transition to a global green economy.
Will Rio+20 squander green legacy of the original Earth summit?
Grist: 2012 Rio Earth summit’s focus on a green economy a threat to progress made by the 1992 original, warns Jim Thomas
(The Guardian) … Good news first. Next year, a honking big global Earth Summit is coming our way — one with a proud heritage. Formally titled the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, the meeting is known as RIO+20 because it will come 20 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. That original Earth Summit (itself 20 years after the equally important Stockholm Convention on the Environment and Human Development) gave us an embarrassment of policy riches: the Climate Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Sustainable Development Commission, the Precautionary Principle, a long and ambitious list of promises called Agenda 21, The Forest Principles, and much more. Over a hundred heads of state turned up to Rio Di Janeiro last time amidst intense global attention. This time, the reunion party is going back to Rio again on 4-6 June 2012. Chances are it will all be a big deal again.
At a recent preparatory meeting in New York, the agenda for this next Earth Summit became clear. The leaders will issue a “focused political document” tackling the transition to a global “green economy” and reform of the international institutions responsible for sustainable
development. This second “reform” strand could feasibly restructure everything ranging from the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) and the U.N. Development Program to the 500 different multilateral environmental treaties and agreements currently in place. These cover toxic chemicals, ocean conservation, biodiversity, desertification, climate change, ozone depletion, forest protection, and more. Given the rising trends of global temperature, hunger, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss, the existing mishmash of eco-governance is clearly failing to deliver. RIO+20 is a precious chance for decision-makers to take stock of where the world went wrong in the last 20 years and plan intelligently for the next 20. Hopefully RIO+20 will deliver a jolt of political will to the global environmental agenda, as well as a smart plan to get the planet back on track.
Or at least that’s the theory. And now we come to the bad news: Far from cooking up a plan to save the Earth, what may come out of the summit could instead be a deal to surrender the living world to a small cabal of bankers and engineers — one that will dump the promises of the first Rio summit along the way. Tensions are already rising between northern countries and southern countries over the poorly defined concept of a global “Green Economy” that will be the centerpiece of the summit. More
Cities form global lobby at Rio+20
Representatives of some of the world’s most prominent cities are already staking out their place at the upcoming Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development slated for June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Advocates say cities, which account for 70% of emissions of greenhouse gases, require more influence, resources and expertise. The Charlotte Observer (N.C.) (1/3)