Rio+20 Outcomes

Written by  //  February 13, 2015  //  Sustainable Development  //  No comments

Montreal to be home to the Future Earth international secretariat coordinating research on climate change and sustainable development
Future Earth was launched in June 2012 at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). It builds on more than two decades of successful international science collaboration in the WCRP, IGBP, Diversitas and IHDP programmes. Paul Shrivastava named Executive Director of Future Earth

2012

16 July

The Future We Want (PDF) Rio+20 Outcome Document

Peoples’ Summit in Rio +20 for Social and Environmental Justice – in defense of the commons, against the commodification of life — Final Declaration of the People’s Summit in Rio +20

Marie-Marguerite Sabongui: Rio+20 breakdown
(the great immensity.org) The mega-conference of the century just ended with an extraordinary fizzle. So why are some of the most vulnerable countries in the world cautiously optimistic about the outcome?
… I was in Rio as an advisor to a small island state. Low-lying countries like Nauru or the Maldives could disappear within the next fifty years because of sea level rise or a single devastating storm. They are already facing real food and water scarcity, less predictable rainfall, and more frequent drought.
For my small island colleagues, the conference delivered minor wins. The document officially acknowledged that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and that impacts of climate change “represent the gravest of threats to the survival” of some islands. For the first time, the international community acknowledged that some states could cease to exist as countries through the small but relentless washing away of their territory.
The language may seem too dry for the stakes, but these political gains were hard fought and felt valuable. The logic is this: agreements like these can help set priorities domestically and internationally for the next twenty years and increase the chances, however little, that change will happen.
29 June

No Strategy for Civilisation in Crisis

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, ended on Friday 22 without a glimmer of a strategy for humanity to exit the trap it has fallen into.
(IPS) Proposals from NGOs, meeting in a parallel forum, were excluded from the official outcome document. Indeed, how could a conference of national governments, 99 percent of them from countries with capitalist economies, swallow the anti-capitalist ideas of the civil society forum?
The final declaration of the People’s Summit says “We assume the urgent challenge of putting a brake on the new phase of capitalism’s recomposition,” in which only “the people, organised and mobilised, can free the world from the control of the corporations and of financial capital.”
The main contribution of Rio+20 may be to provide a shock of realism to stimulate reflection and the realisation of previously unrecognised facts, such as the pretentiousness of calling the official outcome document “The Future We Want”, or convening a “People’s Summit” as the parallel event in Guanabara Bay, suggesting a hierarchy which the same “people” reject when they meet in the World Social Forum.
The search for new ways forward has already begun. A movement launched on Saturday Jun. 23 in Rio de Janeiro, named “Rio+20+one day” or “Day After”, is aiming for “a new social contract for the 21st century,” based on the ideas of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the humanist philosopher whose tricentennial falls this year.

The case for optimism after Rio+20

More than anything, last week’s Rio+20 summit has placed sustainable development on the global political agenda through at least fall 2013, according to observers. The conference recognized the viability of green economic policies and established a framework for identifying development goals, beefing up the United Nations Environment Programme, advancing initiatives to protect the Arctic and ending fossil fuel supports. The largest public- and private-sector commitments came from Asia. The Guardian (London)/Poverty Matters blog (6/27), Mail & Guardian (South Africa) (6/29), Devex.com (6/27)

Finding cause for hope in Rio+20 disappointment

The disappointment arising from the lack of consensus at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development is giving way to optimism among some observers, including Mary Robinson, former human rights chief at the United Nations, who writes that “the lack of political leadership was countered by the incredible vitality, determination and commitment of civil society.” The shortcomings of the summit could point to the emergence of a new notion of “ecological citizenship,” says Ilan Safit, a professor at Pace University. CNN (6/26), The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Dot Earth blog (6/25), United Press International (6/25)


Highlights from Friday, 22 June

On 22 June 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) adopted the outcome document titled “The Future We Want,” and, following statements by governments, UN officials and Brazilian President Rousseff, the meeting closed at 8:41 pm. The final day of the three-day event opened with statements by 8 Heads of State and Government and 45 Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and heads of delegation. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the speakers, and announced a partnership between the US and African nations, with US$20 million in funding, to unlock private financing for clean energy projects in Africa and beyond. In her closing statement, Brazilian President Rousseff pledged US$6 million to UNEP’s fund targeting developing countries, and will direct US$10 million towards climate change challenges in Africa, least developed countries, and SIDS. A similar pledge had been offered earlier in the meeting by Wen Jiabao, Premier of China, and total pledges of US$513 billion in funding were reported to have been committed by governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups in response to a call for voluntary commitments to achieve the Conference’s goals. In closing the Conference, Rousseff stressed that Rio+20 was the most participatory conference in history and was a “global expression of democracy.” She also said that Rio+20 has demonstrated multilateralism is a legitimate pathway to build solutions for global problems. In all, 12,000 individuals were reported to have registered to attend the official Rio+20 event and its 500 official side events, and another 30,000 participated in one or more of the up to 3000 unofficial parallel events that took place throughout Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio+20: 5 key takeaways

(CSM) The three-day United Nations sustainability conference, Rio+20, wraps up today, after leaders and diplomats from over 190 countries gathered to define how a “green economy” would provide a sustainable path with social inclusion. But the conference has been largely overshadowed by criticism for its perceived lack of vision, leadership, and concrete action.
But the entire conference didn’t take place under a giant dark cloud, say delegates. It’s important to look beyond the actual rhetoric of the gathering, and focus on what was accomplished on the sidelines, says Jim Shultz, the head of the social and environmental advocacy group the Democracy Center in Bolivia, who was in Rio leading educational workshops.
Here are some of the promising developments and bigger disappointments of the mega-meeting:
Public and private sector investment
Andrew Deutz, director of international government relations at The Nature Conservancy, says that the meetings he has attended on the sidelines of the Rio+20 showed a clear recognition on the part of governments and companies that they must invest in “natural capital.”
Fossil fuel subsidies
On the face of it, the failure to explicitly call for an end to fossil fuel subsidies in the nearly 50-page conference text was cited as a major failure, leading to a Twitter campaign of more than 100,000 Tweets. But Mr. Shultz says that the world is talking about it – underlined by the Twitter campaign and far beyond – and that it’s one of the most promising developments in terms of the public coalescing around an idea towards a sustainable future.
A stepping stone, not a failure
The Guardian has been running a live blog on the Rio+20, and one of its posts offers a “positive” view of what has been     accomplished, perhaps the best summary of why the world should feel hopeful after the conference wraps up today.
Oliver Greenfield, of the Green Economy Coalition, says the conference has not been a turning point, but a stepping stone, and definitely not a complete failure. “One thousand NGOs, institutions, and individuals have signed a petition calling it “The Future We Don’t Want” – citing failures on removing fossil fuel subsidies, failure to protect oceans, failures to address women’s reproduction health. Against this groundswell it is difficult for any civil society to say anything different,” he writes.
Linking environment and economy
“There was a failure of many leaders to make the connection between the G20 (which took place in Mexico this week) and what the Rio agenda was about. “If the G20 was focused on the need to deal with short-term debt crisis, in Rio it was the longterm ecological debt crisis. The G20 didn’t make that connection”.
Green what?
And what is the green economy anyway? One of the big disappointments of the conference has been its inability to get any closer to defining what this term du jour even means.

U.N. sustainability summit ends with $513 billion in pledges

Global leaders meeting in Brazil approve a plan to bring clean water, sanitation and energy to the world’s poor without further damage to the planet.
(LA Times) After days of quiet backroom dealing and soaring public rhetoric, global leaders on Friday approved a plan to bring clean water, sanitation and energy to the world’s poor without further degrading the planet.
The agreement, widely criticized for its watered-down ambitions, was overshadowed by a flurry of financial commitments and side deals announced at the three-day U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development.
Government leaders, bankers and corporate CEOs took advantage of the gathering of 50,000 people — the largest meeting in U.N. history — to announce new partnerships, programs and investments.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the $513 billion in commitments “a significant legacy of this conference — billions of dollars’ worth of actions and investments that will have the power to transform lives across the globe.”
To some of those present, the conference presented a new model, a global gathering to inspire government and corporate leaders and others to move ahead and build momentum — rather than waiting for world leaders to reach consensus on a treaty to address climate change or other environmental matters.
[Secretary of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton announced an agreement with 400 major food and agriculture companies to halt deforestation, and partnerships with African nations for clean-energy projects.
The world’s largest development banks vowed to invest $175 billion in energy-efficient public transport in poor countries. Mayors vowed to shrink their city’s carbon footprints. Educators vowed to change economics classes, and even questions on the SAT and GMAT exams, so that students learn about sustainable development.

Rio+20: What’s Trade Got to Do with It?

(Forbes) International trade is now part of the solution and not part of the problem. Or is it? The outcome text also highlights trade-related issues which still need to be addressed such as “trade distorting subsidies” and “trade in environmental goods and services.” So it is understandable that there has been a good deal of multi-stakeholder dialogue about trade in Rio including events organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the UN International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Conference on Trade and Sustainable Development (UNCTAD, and others.

George Monbiot: Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff

World leaders have spent 20 years bracing themselves to express ‘deep concern’ about the world’s environmental crises, but not to do anything about them

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