Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum Discusses Rio+20

Adapted from IISD Reporting Services

The 13th session of the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF-13) served as a platform for exchanges between representatives of Major Groups and governments on their respective positions for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The Forum was organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and took place from 18-19 February 2012, at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, ahead of the 12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GCSS-12/GMEF).

Discussions addressed the importance of linking all levels of participation and the need to bring together cross-disciplinary groups of people. Participants called for stronger language on institutionalizing public participation in environmental governance, and for increased dialogue to “bridge the gap between Davos and Porto Alegre” in the green economy discourse. The forum also discussed the outcomes of regional consultations on Rio+20, and reviewed potential indicators for success at Rio+20.

On green economy, participants discussed: equity and social inclusion; governance and market reform; a roadmap for transitioning to a green economy; and agreement on a definition and principles of a green economy. Recommendations emerged to: develop an exclusive steering committee to guide the transition towards a green economy; increase the requirements for commitments from governments; establish clear elements on capacity building, particularly regarding technology and finance; and ensure equity and social inclusion.

On emerging issues, participants expressed concerns that the zero draft of the UNCSD Outcome Document is not sufficiently ambitious, and that key gaps include the lack of a strong interdisciplinary approach and effective monitoring of actions, and knowledge gaps in such areas as human rights to food and water, health, nutrition, atmosphere and the global commons.

Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, acknowledged concerns that the economic dimension has been overemphasized, and said focus should be on the nexus between development, equity and justice, suggesting that the phrase “inclusive green economy” might be more appropriate. On IFSD, Steiner observed the need to overcome the UN “political paralysis” and called for an aggressive discussion at Rio+20, stressing that “if we don’t move now, environmental governance will remain in the dustbin of the economic juggernaut that is driving this planet.” He further noted that a systemic fix for the current dilemma with UNEP may not exist.