The 20th anniversary meeting of the original world earth summit is taking place in Rio on June 20-22
This one is supposed to be dedicated to action and accountability in implementing Agenda 21 and to promote a green economy and green jobs. The basic premise is that the west consumes too much of the earth's resources. The middle class consumer lifestyle is unsustainable. This is inequitable to the developing third world. Something more equitable has to be put in its place. This involves global weath distribution and the governmental control of production and consumption: http://www.stakeholderforum.org/sf/i...-papers#uchita
Countries will be asked this summer to sign up for 10 new sustainable development goals for the planet and promise to build green economies at the first earth summit in 20 years.
According to a leak of the draft agenda document seen by the Guardian, they will also be asked to negotiate a new agreement to protect oceans, approve an annual state of the planet report, set up a major world agency for the environment, and appoint a global "ombudsperson", or high commissioner, for future generations. Dozens of heads of state, political leaders and celebrities are expected to go to the UN's Rio+20 sustainable development meeting, to be held in Brazil in June.
John Major, Fidel Castro and George H W Bush were among the leaders who attended the original earth summit, which was the world's biggest ever political gathering. But David Cameron has said he is not planning to attend Rio+20, despite promising to lead the "greenest government ever" and the date of the summit being changed to avoid a clash with the Queen's diamond jubilee.
Unlike the 1992 earth summit when over 190 heads of state set in motion several legally binding environment agreements, leaders this time will not be asked to sign any document that would legally commit their countries to meeting any particular targets or timetables. Instead, they will be asked to set their own targets and work voluntarily towards establishing a global green economy which the UN believes will reduce poverty and slow consumption.
Although the agenda could change in the next six months, it looks likely they will be asked to pledge to use stretched resources better and reform the subsidy system of fossil fuels which encourages climate change.
The exact content of the new global sustainable development goals (SDGs) will be decided by governments before the Rio meeting and will not be introduced until 2015. However, they are expected to cover "priority" areas such as oceans, food, energy, water, consumption and sustainable cities. Countries will have their progress measured. They will not replace the 10 millennium development goals set by the UN in 2000 which promised to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations.
Governments will be expected to strengthen the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme body which is widely thought to be underfunded and unable to address the growing threats to ecosystems. Unep is likely to be put on the same level as the World Health organisation (Who) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The 20-page document celebrates progress made in the last 20 years in reducing poverty and developing IT industries, but it recognises that countries have largely failed to meet most of the environmental and developmental challenges and commitments they made two decades ago. "Unsustainable development has increased the stress on the earth's limited natural resources, and on the carrying capacity of ecosystems. Food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss have adversely affected development gains. We are deeply concerned that around 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty and one sixth of the world's population is undernourished, pandemics are omnipresent threats," it says.
Brazil, which will host the conference, is planning a massive parallel meeting for non-government groups and individuals to debate and put pressure on governments to act.
The agenda met with a mixed welcome from environment and development groups.
Stephen Hale, Oxfam's deputy advocacy and campaigns director, said: "This will kick-start the Rio negotiations. The UN deserves credit for a promising first draft. The world's governments need to respond with ambitious and concrete proposals, particularly on sustainable agriculture and food security where there is far more that the Rio summit can and must agree."
Ruth Davis, chief policy adviser at Greenpeace UK, said: "This Rio summit comes after two decades of delays and broken promises on sustainable development which has left millions in poverty and pushed ecosystems to the brink of collapse. Whilst this draft text covers the key issues, it also demonstrates a dismal lack of urgency in tackling them. Goals to end destruction of ancient forests, tackle over-fishing, phase out dirty energy subsidies, and deliver access to clean energy for the poor are either open-ended or pushed back for years."
She continued: "There are certainly important and useful proposals here - not least, the plan to negotiate a new agreement on protecting oceans - which could see an end to the wild-west plundering of the high seas. But for Rio to be more than an elite talking shop, world leaders need to inject some ambition into the negotiation, right now. A vague commitment to act at some point in the future will no longer cut it with the millions of people who have become rightly cynical about voluntary pledges and empty words."
Three weeks before the U.N.-sponsored Rio + 20 summit conference on sustainable development, member countries that the United States hoped would produce a five-page summary of goals are instead haggling over a mammoth grab-bag of demands for new planetary regulation and assertions that industrialized countries, led by the U.S., should pay for, among other things, an unprecedented and massively expensive transfer of technology and funds to the developing world.
At one point, the text being debated by hundreds of negotiators climbed to 171 pages before being cut back by executive fiat to 86 pages—only to start climbing steeply again.
The unwieldy document covers everything from sustainable food strategies to codes of corporate responsibility to technology transfers—on highly favorable terms—to developing countries. Copies of the document are not being made publicly available.
The emergency bargaining session was intended as a last-ditch effort to bring some focus, energy and concision to the text after previous scheduled meetings led only to the current, bloated document.
“We were hoping it would inspire people, get them interested in the issues writ large,” a senior State Department official told Fox News. “ Right now, it’s just a long list of everybody’s projects, which is less valuable. “
The haggling over what will be said at the end of the three day Rio + 20 meeting, which starts on June 21 in Brazil, does not bode well for the summit, which U.N. organizers hope will inaugurate not only a radical overhaul of the world economy but a new and still unspecified era of “global environmental governance.”
The summit is also in danger of being overshadowed by deepening financial clouds over Europe and an economic slowdown between China and the U.S., as well as the ugly confrontation in Syria and an impending U.S. presidential election. As the State Department official put it: “We think the focus should be the future rather than a long negotiated text. Most countries around the world recognize that we are in difficult circumstances. This is not a time to talk about new financial commitments and transfers.”
Nonetheless, that is just the kind of sweeping and open-ended language that many countries evidently feel that the document should contain.
The messy document owes much to the huge, varied and often antagonistic interests that the U.N. decided to bring into the negotiation process, which includes not only national governments but also “civil society” groups ranging from business interests to native peoples to such undefined classes as “women.”
Some of the unmanageable complexity, however, is due to the internal machinations of the U.N. itself, which quietly decided last April to bring together representatives from at least 60 developing countries, “to share good practice on the themes of the conference and to learn from each other on their national preparatory processes for Rio +20. ”
The $2.8 million effort, billed as a “capacity building” exercise, brought together about 80 participants, including “senior officials from relevant ministries,” representatives of business, labor, indigenous people, farmers, “youth,” and “women” among others, along with parliamentarians and media from May 15 to 17 in Dakar, Senegal.
According to an internal Rio + 20 “concept note” describing the process, the aim was “to develop consensus on broad areas of national action, as well as on priorities for regional action and for
international decision at [Rio + 20].
Or, in other words, how to hone and focus their lobbying efforts in advance of the meeting, and their efforts at shaping the outcome afterwards.
The organizers, which included U.N. development agencies and the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which provides the secretariat for Rio + 20, also distilled 10 detailed country studies to offer proof that the whole idea of “sustainable development” works.
The studies were intended to show that the selected countries “have embarked on a more sustainable development path,” and “demonstrate how sustainable development approaches (such as fiscal reform for poverty reduction, economic valuations of natural resources, pro-poor payments for environmental services, as well as institutional and coordination arrangements) can contribute to the sustainable development agenda.”
How well the lobbying prep session went is not known.
(Alongside those advance efforts to shape the negotiating outcome for Rio + 20, minutes of a meeting of summit organizers held on May 1, and examined by Fox News, indicate that the U.N. intends to pay the way for “two participants...per developing country” to attend the Rio + 20 meeting itself. Full details of the subsidized attendance were to be determined at a later date.)
In a final complication to the last minute marathon bargaining, at least some international “civil society” organizations with close U.N. ties have been mobilizing pressure on their government representatives in the bargaining session to protect their special-interest sections of the bloated outcome document.
One such is a Spain-headquartered international organization of mayors known as “United Cities and Local Government,” which claims to include more than 1,000 member-cities 95 countries. United Cities includes a smattering of U.S. municipal and country officials in its ungainly executive bureau.
As the bargaining has gotten stiffer over the negotiating text, United Cities has been sending its members a form letter to pass on to national government ministers, urging them to preserve specific references to local government in the negotiating text, and thus, presumably, enhance the organization’s clout post-Rio + 20.
Whether the letter-writing campaign has been successful or not is unknown. But it certainly cannot be making the containment of Rio + 20s rhetorical sprawl any easier.
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