Time to Think About Rio+20

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – the Earth Summit – held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The 10th anniversary was marked by the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg. The 20th anniversary will be marked by a three day conference back in Rio from 4th to 6th of June, 2012.

The Secretary-General of the 20th anniversay event, Mr. Sha Zukang, recently shared his hopes for Rio:. He said:

I hope that Rio will produce a blueprint for a coherent pursuit of sustainable development, including:

  • Renewed political commitment for sustainable development.
  • Mobilization of the entire UN system in support of sustainable development. This requires strengthening of the three pillars – including social and economic, not just environmental.
  • A strengthened Commission on Sustainable Development
  • A strengthened UNEP.
  • Guidelines on the Green Economy.
  • Actionable commitments in financing and technology cooperation.

Mr. Zukang’s statement also included:

  • It’s not that countries think these issues are any less important. In fact they believe there is more urgency to implementing sustainable development.
  • They need to see their efforts going toward implementation. So Rio + 20 itself will be an example of a sharper focus on implementation – and we believe we can achieve tangible results.
  • So, given the natural limits on the Earth’s resources, we need to do things differently, not to live poorer, but to live smarter in terms of our use of the Earth’s resources.
  • Finding ways to reduce waste and use resources more efficiently is a major goal of this Conference.
  • The simple answer is this: a green economy should not raise trade barriers or be a justification for “green protectionism”.
  • The simple answer is this: a green economy should not raise trade barriers or be a justification for “green protectionism”.
  • On the contrary, countries should work to provide increased market access for green products from developing countries. Rio Principle 12 says it all: “Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. …”
  • At Rio + 20, in the context of renewing commitment to sustainable development, countries should reaffirm commitment to the Rio Principles.
  • So, any agreement on a green economy in Rio next year should adhere to the Rio Principles. There are areas of possible disagreement which will need clarification of WTO rules, including how they relate to subsidies for renewable energy.
  • Developing countries also have concerns that the trade policy rules not unduly restrict policy space to develop their own domestic green industries.
There is much more in Mr. Sha Zukang’s preview of the Rio+20 conference objectives and hoped-for outcomes. For a full text visit http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&nr=176&type=8&menu=41&template=356
More details about the conference can be found at http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/

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