Rio+20: Brazil’s text falls far short of mark, says EU
By Anne Eckstein | Monday 18 June 2012
Rio+20, the UN global sustainable development conference, is going into its second week but clouds are starting to gather in the run-up to the opening of the high-level ministerial session, on 20-22 June, which in theory will endorse a series of advances. On 17 June, the European Union and non-governmental organisations rejected a draft final declaration on poverty and the environment presented by Brazil, describing it as “woefully inadequate”.
With the conference getting bogged down, host state Brazil decided to take things in hand and presented a draft final declaration to the experts. “The way is now pretty much clear for reaching a final agreement. This is a balanced text,” declared the head of the Brazilian delegation, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, as he presented the proposal. He hinted that the heads of state and government would “not have much more to discuss”.
The 50-page compromise text presented by Brazil does not propose any figures for funding sustainable development, while the developing countries are demanding US$30 billion per year. It proposes “sustainable development goals” to replace the Millennium Development Goals after their expiry, in 2015, but postpones their definition to a subsequent conference.
The EU finds that the text lacks serious commitments for ending the overexploitation of natural resources and developing a ‘green’ economy. “We would like to see the text contain precise targets matched with deadlines and concrete monitoring and progress assessment mechanisms,” commented Monica Westeren, spokeswoman for Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik.
NGOs are hardly more optimistic. They find that the fear of seeing a repeat of an episode as traumatising as the conclusion of the Copenhagen climate summit, in 2009, could lead to a heavy watering down of the final document. The draft agreement “was cleverly drafted to avoid controversy and promote consensus, but if adopted, it would not help redirect growth by giving priority to people and the planet,” declared Oxfam. For Asad Rehman (Friends of the Earth), “the text is not ambitious enough and does not express the political will required to correct damage done to the planet”. Lasse Gustavsson (WWF) finds that the Brazilian text “beats about the bush, especially on energy, which could have been written by the oil and gas industry”.
DEVELOPED COUNTRIES SINGLED OUT
The traditional dividing lines that emerged during the climate negotiations have reappeared in Rio. “The developed countries have to set the example by respecting their sustainable development objectives and taking the needs of developing countries into account,” said China’s Vice-Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng, on 18 June. “Developing a ‘green’ economy will be a huge, long-term task. We support stronger international cooperation in this area. The developing countries have to be given a favourable external environment, especially financial and technological support,” he added.
China considers, as with the climate negotiations, that the developed countries have a historic responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions and refuses to commit to a reduction of its own emissions. It is defending this position in Rio: “The Rio principles must be respected for adoption of the sustainable development objectives, in particular the principle of collective but differentiated responsibility for global warming,” said another Foreign Ministry official, Tan Jian.
The 50-page compromise text presented by Brazil does not propose any figures for funding sustainable development, while the developing countries are demanding US$30 billion per year