Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“The Future We Want”: Not perfect, but balanced

By Social Watch, June 21, 2012

More than 100 heads of State and government prepare to approve on Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio2012). After intensive and protracted informal negotiations, representatives of 191 countries reached an agreement on Tuesday.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said at the opening ceremony on Wednesday that the agreement was the result of a major effort to establish compromise solutions, and that it did not mean a backing down from previous commitments, especially those signed 20 years ago at the Earth Summit, also held in Rio de Janeiro.

Rousseff remarked relevant gains, including the adoption of sustainable development goals (SDGs); the creation of a high-level political forum to follow their implementation; the strengthened endowment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the expansion of the civil society’s role regarding sustainable development; the adoption of an unprecedented 10-year programme towards sustainable production and consumption patterns; the recognition that the GDP is not an accurate measure for development and the commitment to design an alternative formula.

The text, entitled “The Future We Want”, also calls upon the private sector to incorporate sustainable development information into their balance sheets.

Rousseff called for urgent actions to protect the oceans, as developing countries depend on their resources. In 1992, she added, the world leaders acknowledged that the principle of common but differentiated responsibility was essential to achieve sustainable development, and also the need to curb the unsustainable production and consumption patterns.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the old model for economic and social development is broken, and that Rio2012 is a unique chance to set it right, to create a new model that balances the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions.

The negotiations were hard but significant progress was made, according to Ban. The SDGs will build on the advances made under the MDGs and are an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda.

Sha Zukang, the Secretary-General of the Conference, said that we are living in another historic moment and that the green economy can be a tool for sustainable development.

More than 40,000 people, including parliamentarians, mayors, and civil society representatives take part in Rio2012.

There were no objections to the adoption of the outcome document at the final plenary of the "pre-conference informal consultations". Even the European Union left its previous objections aside.

The text is not perfect but represents the possible balance, said Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota.

The document reflects some of the main demands of the developing countries, including the reaffirmation of the Rio Principles, among them the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the confirmation of commitments such as the Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, an intergovernmental process to develop the SDGs, another intergovernmental process under the UN General Assembly to facilitate the mobilization of resources towards those objectives, the creation of a mechanism to transfer environmentally sound technologies and the exploration of modalities to allow developing countries to access to these technologies.

Algeria, as Chair of the Group of 77 and China, said that the outcome document was the best possible after more than a year of hard negotiations.

On its part, the United States appreciated the balanced outcome of the hard work, but showed its disappointment because the reproductive rights were not recognized and there were no a range of priorities among the SDGs.

Denmark, on behalf the European Union, said that the document could have been more action-oriented. Norway remarked the positive elements on gender equality but regretted the lack of agreement on sexual and reproductive rights.

Bolivia expressed its happiness regarding the recognition to the rights of Mother Earth, the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Nauru, representing the Alliance of Small Island States, said that the outcome document could not provide for all situations but it was a positive step to guide further works.

Cuba said the text was the result of a compromise, but was a good conclusion given the difficult negotiations.

Venezuela said that Brazil has shown its leadership managing transparent and open negotiations, and expressed its concern on the lack of political will among developed countries for strong commitments on finance and technology transfer.

Egypt, speaking for the Arab Group, said that it would have liked a more ambitious document but welcome the reaffirmation of the Rio Principles, although warned that the green economy was not a replacement of sustainable development.

Argentina found the text balanced and wanted that balance to be preserved.

Congo, on behalf the African Union, referred to the strengthening and upgrading of UNEP and supported to change its name to United Nations Environment Organisation (UNEO).


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