Rio+20: Potocnik calls on all parties to step up involvement
By Anne Eckstein | Monday 04 June 2012
Tension is growing two weeks from the launch of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, which will be held 20-22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The preparatory negotiations are essentially at a standstill.
“I regret the lack of progress made during the additional negotiation period,” Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said, on 3 June, during the last preparatory session, which was held on 29 May-2 June in New York. “I had hoped that more actors would have spent the last weeks reflecting more urgently on the issues,” the commissioner said, expressing his concerns about the upcoming conference. Therefore, Potocnik is calling “for a strong engagement by all parties and notably the host country, which will have a particular role in securing success for the conference”. He added that “the EU has been fully engaged and will remain so”. Clearly, the negotiations in New York did not have the outcome Potocnik had hoped for, and he insisted that “further efforts will be needed in Rio”. Potocnik called on all the parties to commit more voluntarily in these negotiations because “without that, the chances of success in Rio will be limited. There will be no added value for the summit if we get entangled in procedures or just good intentions. We all need to wake up to the reality of the situation facing the world and to take concrete steps to deal with it”.
The commissioner stressed that “sustainable development and an inclusive ‘green’ economy have a massive potential to turn the environmental challenges into economic opportunities and to reduce social inequities”. But, Potocnik stressed, “to go from potential to reality we need direction and tangible milestones. Not only future generations will suffer from our inability to agree on actions needed to cope with the problems of finite resources, unsustainable development and mass poverty. Let’s not waste our chance to choose the kind of future we want – while we still can,” Potocnik said.
SEVEN KEY FIELDS
Beyond the two mains themes of Rio+20 – a ‘green’ economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and defining a new institutional framework for sustainable development – the conference will deal with seven key fields: 1. fighting poverty, namely through ‘green’ jobs and promoting social inclusion; 2. promoting food safety and sustainable agriculture; 3. rational water management; 4. access to energy, including through renewable sources, as well as effectiveness and sustainability; 5. regional, national and local-level governance for sustainable development; 6. ocean management; and 7. reducing disaster risk and building resilience.