As the three days of official Rio+20 talks commenced today, representatives of the major groups addressed the convention, voicing their opposition to the Zero Draft Document, also known as "The Future We Want."
The deeply disappointing final negotiating document, ironically titled ""The Future We Want" has been met with a consensus of anger by civil society, NGOs and major groups, all of whom agree that the text lacks a clear plan of action to monitor or define new goals of sustainable development, nor does it lay out requisite commitments to the design and implementation of a green economy which takes into account both social and environmental issues.
Hopes that the document would set forward a concise timetable and commitments towards "sustainable development goals" focusing on the safety of oceans, food security, renewable energies, employment and gender equity were dashed as the key power brokers - the US, China, the EU and Brazil - muddied the waters sufficiently to ensure no authentic action remained a possibility.
And once again, as is the case in the UNFCCC Climate Negotiations, the rift between the developed (North) and undeveloped (South) reveals a highly flawed, top heavy and economically driven agenda which disenfranchises the poor, the rights of nature itself and threatens the very essence of biodiversity necessary to maintain life on the planet.
The principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) is one of the cornerstones of sustainable development. It has emerged as a principle of International Environmental Law and has been explicitly formulated in the context of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It finds its origins in equity considerations and equity principles in international law. It informs in particular the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. SourceIn today's major news, development banks pledged $175 billion towards building public transport systems to reduce GHGs. The decision, backed by predictions that millions around the globe will be relocating to urban environments over the next few decades, is indicative of a shift in negotiating tactics from the traditional method of working with governments to directly deal with cities themselves in addressing low carbon transportation.
"Once the shackles of climate change are lifted, we are able to build constructive partnerships. The mayor of Beijing might ask for help with problems on public transport, but it would be hard for him to do that on climate change, Slocat’s Cornie Huizenga told The Guardian.
"The real success story of Rio is bottom-up partnerships to advance sustainability, even though governments can't agree what to do at the top level," Huizenga said. (source)
Not to be Missed
Dancing on the Sand
Why did the environmental movement send 40, 000 people to a failed summit in Rio?
What the text does contain are some sensible changes to the way the existing U.N. Environment Program works -- a rare victory for the modest-but-sensible over the flashy-but-poorly-thought-through. The document will also launch a process (or, unfortunately, a series of processes) to negotiate something called "sustainable development goals," to mirror and/or replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. Color me skeptical on the SDGs, and the process set out is cumbersome; but at least the summit avoiding locking in specific goals without doing the necessary spade work on evidence and coalition building. Sometimes kicking the can down the road is exactly the right thing to do.Why Aren’t Women’s Issues on the Agenda at Rio+20? by Carmen Barroso
“Rio+20 could be our last chance to mobilize world leaders and civil society to assure a real paradigm shift away from greed and unsustainable growth towards societies based on human rights and gender equality. The possibility that a new set of “Sustainable Development Goals” — to replace the Millennium Development Goals — may emerge from the Summit makes women’s full participation and inclusion even more important. Women hold up half the sky, as the old Chinese proverb says, and they must be protagonists in the next chapter of the world’s aspirations for a sustainable future." Sascha Gabizon of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), one of the core organisers of the Women’s Major Group.Background
Sustainable Development Goals from Issues Brief 6 - Current Ideas on Sustainable Development Goals and Indicators, UN-DESA
GDP+ Rio: Natural asset loss to be measured says Clegg (from Population Matters)
Natural assets will be recorded as part of GDP to measure how quickly they are being lost, Nick Clegg announces [at the UN Rio+20 conference]. The controversial new scheme will make more than 1,000 companies measure their greenhouse gas emissions in full. Mr Clegg said carbon reporting will force companies to cut pollution and switch to a more sustainable form of business. Mr Clegg insisted there is all to play for at the summit including a plan for all countries to start to measure their natural capital as well as GDP.
9:19 PM PT: GCCA (tcktcktck) daily report just shared these comments from partner organizations:
“Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy. We were promised the 'future we want' but are now being present with a 'common vision' of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests. This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, it’s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model.” - Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace
“Despite a late night negotiating session, the revised text is a colossal failure of leadership and vision from diplomats. They should be embarrassed at their inability to find common ground on such a crucial issue. Now it’s up to world leaders to get serious about sustainable development and save this process. If they approve what’s on the table now without significant changes, they’ve doomed Rio+20 to ridicule. […] Two years and one late night of negotiations later, diplomats in Rio are letting the world down.” - Jim Leape, WWF
“The Brazilians, apparently supported by many major delegations, are determined to shut down further debate on the text. But with world leaders arriving in Rio and more than three days of the conference to go, that would be a betrayal of all we're trying to achieve and a staggering waste of opportunity. So we're challenging heads of state and government to use the remaining days to inject some desperately needed urgency into the text. It must respond to the gravity of the environmental crisis and the scandal of global poverty, and create momentum for sustainable development. There is so much at stake - this is not the time to stop working.” - Alison Doig, Christian Aid
10:30 PM PT: Equator Prize Winners:
Biodiversity: Pacari Network (Brazil)
Community-based adaptation: Namdrik Atoll Local Resources Committee (Marshall Islands)
Drylands: Abrha Weatsbha Natural Resource Management Initiative (Ethiopia)
Energy: Medicinal Plants Association (Egypt)
Food: Women and Land (Tajikistan)
Forests: West Africa Initiative of Liberia (Liberia)
Oceans: Pemuteran Bay Coral Protection Foundation (Indonesia)
Waste: United Women Artisans' Association of Los Límites (Colombia)
Water: Shashwat (India)
Women’s Empowerment: Swazi Indigenous Products (Swaziland)