Governments have squandered a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to make significant advances towards a greener, fairer future for the planet and its people, says ACT Alliance as the Rio+20 summit concludes in Brazil.
While the “Future We Want” outcome document represents a consensus of all countries in the world and gives a fair amount of focus on important issues required for sustainable development, ACT and many other civil society actors expected much more.
It is relevant that process have been set up for the coming years on important issues such as development goals, production, consumption which are sustainable, as well as a financial strategy for sustainable development, ACT acknowledges. However, the global summit in Rio de Janeiro – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – has failed to live up to the high level urgency the world’s problems require, ACT Alliance argues.
“Rio+20 should have provided answers to sustainable development by agreeing on ways to tackle the failing economic paradigm which is causing many of the challenges facing today’s world, including poverty, human suffering and climate change,” said ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna.
“Rio+20 should have challenged the inequitable, unsustainable approach to development based on fossil fuel, endless growth and consumption. It was a chance to entrench and implement important commitments of the past, such as the 1992 Rio principles. It was a chance to set clear boundaries on economy by issues such as human rights and the environment.
“It revealed a gigantic gap in the leadership on global issues that we so desperately need. More of the same is not acceptable but our leaders seem to speak a different language from the people they claim to represent.”
While ACT appreciates that many concepts promoted by civil society organisations were included, it is particularly disappointed by three aspects: the lack of ambition on and commitment to a sustainable future; the further marginalisation of the poor; and the failure of the summit to lead and set a good example for future multilateral processes.
Lack of a commitment to provide financial or technological resources to developing countries, without which developing countries will struggle to implement the good ideas in the outcome document, is another disappointment. Furthermore, Rio+20 failed to provide the much-needed political will and leadership for progressing in negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“After the UNFCCC meeting in Durban last December, given the disappointing 2015-2020 timeline for the long-awaited global climate deal, Rio+20 could have mobilised heads of state to raise the sense of urgency for a binding agreement. Now it seems the mood is even lower.
“The millions of people living in poverty who need to adapt to harmful effects of climate change cannot celebrate the result of Rio+20, and neither can we. Where is the progress?” Nduna said.
Looking towards the future, Nduna said, “ACT will walk every step of the way to ensure governments do not slip in their efforts to define financial strategies, sustainable development goals, sustainable production and consumption methods, and a globally binding climate deal – all of which are vital ingredients to the transformation the world urgently needs.”