Rio+20: Rio had chance to save planet but they blew it, critics claim
THE United Nations summit on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro, which drew to a close last night, has been criticised as a “squandered opportunity”.
The meeting, marking 20 years since the Earth Summit in the same city, was aimed at stimulating moves towards the “green economy”.
It has attracted more than 100 world leaders and had promised to tackle poverty and damage to the natural world.
But campaigners, and even some of the signatories, say a declaration from the summit due to be signed last night lacked commitment, specifics and measurable targets.
WWF director-general Jim Leape said: “This was a conference about life; about future generations; about the forests, oceans, rivers and lakes that we all depend on for our food, water and energy. It was a conference to address the pressing challenge of building a future that can sustain us.
“Unfortunately, the world leaders who gathered here lost sight of that urgent purpose. With too few countries prepared to press for action, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff chose to drive a process with no serious content – to the planet’s detriment.
“The result is a squandered opportunity – an agreement that does not set the world on a path toward sustainable development.”
The summit was expected to end last night with an agreement on an “outcome document” drawn up earlier in the week.
There was criticism that the leaders were merely signing a text that had been agreed by diplomats many days earlier. Called The Future We Want the document reaffirms the principles from the Earth Summit in 1992, but environmental groups said it lacks ambition and action.
Per Fischer, spokesman for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It was high time for the UN to prioritise real solutions that deliver climate justice and economic justice for all, and serve the public interest instead of bowing to corporate concerns.
“In that respect, Rio+20 was an utter failure. The outcome agreement says the lack of sustainable global progress since 1992 is due to financial and energy crises, but it is exactly the insufficient progress that has caused these crises, so this analysis is completely flawed.”
The text that leaders were due to sign at the end of the meeting last night runs to nearly 50 pages. However, it was concluded by government negotiators on Tuesday and ministers have not sought to re-open it for discussion throughout the summit.
Although it proposes setting up sustainable development goals – similar to Millennium Development Goals – there is no detail and no timetable. And the document puts the green economy as just one possible pathway to sustainable development. Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, went so far as to call it “insipid”.
Environment groups say it should have contained commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and to increase the global share of renewable energy.
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