Rio +20 – Earth Summit 2012
Twenty years ago the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro hosted the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the first ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992. On June 20-22nd 2012, leaders from around the world met there again to discuss the future of sustainable human development at this year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), referred to as ‘Rio +20’’. It was the largest gathering of nations to deal with these issues since the last Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002.
The main focus of this fourth Earth Summit was to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress and problems that have occurred to date, and to address new and emerging challenges. The conference delegates finally signed the text “The Future We Want”.
- Read Progressio Ireland’s detailed analysis of the conference and outcomes here.
- The Progressio delegation at Rio+20 sent regular updates and reports. You can find them here.
- What impact do the decisions (or the lack thereof) made in Rio have on poor and marginalised communities, for example in Yemen? Read our article “Reality Check – The Future We Want” that was printed in the Irish Catholic here.
The zero draft
In preparation for this important conference, the Bureau of the Preparatory Process of the UNCSD released the ‘zero draft (Read the full paper here)’. This 19 page document is based on a compilation of the input received by the UNCSD Secretariat from member States and other stakeholders. It outlines the points and issues that will be negotiated between parties at the conference, and provides a basis for discussion and policy-making, with the first discussions taking place in New York from 25-27th January 2012.
We here in Progressio Ireland and, in fact, the whole Progressio family, think the zero draft had great potential and is a positive start to urgently-needed negotiations. It covers a wide and comprehensive range of issues affecting the achievement of sustainable development and reduction of inequality and deprivation, including water, food security, energy, gender and climate change, to name a few. It shows a deep concern for those suffering the harsh effects of poverty and unsustainable development. The zero draft includes a strong commitment to eradicating poverty and achieving just and inclusive societies throughout the world, as well as reaffirming the common but differentiated responsibilities and obligations of developed and developing countries. It also demonstrates some forward thinking and mentions plans to continue the work of the existing Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015, by establishing “Sustainable Development Goals”, to be achieved by 2030.
Flaws in the draft – commitment needed immediately
However, we believe that there are several flaws within the zero draft. If world leaders are truly committed to working together in order to successfully achieve sustainable development, these flaws have to be adressed and improved immediately. Over the last 20 years, countries have largely failed to meet most of the developmental commitments they made in Rio in 1992, but the need to make a real effort towards achieving sustainable development has never been greater. Urgent action must be taken to end inequality and protect the world’s poorest people as the effects of unsustainable development stretch the earth’s resources to their limits.
Progressio Ireland submitted response papers on the zero draft and the Framework for Sustainable Development in Ireland to government officials and MEPs, and we encouraged Irish and EU representatives to push for immediate action at Rio+20.
As part of our Get Rio about Water and The Future We Want campaigns Progressio supporters and other members of the public encouraged Minister for the Environment, Mr Phil Hogans, to push for water to be considered as main factor for sustainable development at Rio+20. We also asked him to ensure the voices of poor and marginalised people to be listened to at Rio+20. Read more about the campaign action here.
A massive thank you! to everybody who took part in the campaign!