Things are heating up in Rio this morning. The Brazilian Navy stands guard as more than 100 heads of state are whisked to Riocentro via choppers and police escorts to deliberate the draft text unveiled last night. Cagarras Islands in background.
Official Draft Text: Renewing Vows?
You know when married people renew their vows on a milestone anniversary? Well, that’s what the draft “Rio+20 Future We Want” text being delivered to more than 100 heads of state today feels like. It is, after all, the 20th anniversary of the landmark 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
“We, the heads of State and Government and high level representatives, having met at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20-22 June 2012, with full participation of civil society, renew our commitment to sustainable development, and to ensure the promotion of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations,” reads item #1 in the text.
Environmental groups like Greenpeace and WWF are in an uproar, criticizing the text as fluff. But think about it. When you renew your wedding vows, on say your 20th anniversary, two decades have passed. Not everything may have gone as planned but you still stay together for a purpose. You ceremonialize.
So, in that regard, I respect what’s been going on down here in Rio, and Brazil’s work to seek world input from citizens around the globe since April. But I also agree the text is awfully lofty and would have liked to see more teeth in it. However, as I reported in Dispatch #2, I’ve been smacked in the face once again — reminded that when you have the entire world’s population in mind for sustainability issues, it’s fundamentally about poverty and human rights. The “social equity” piece of the sustainable development three-legged stool trumps environment and economy.
In fact, item #2 in the text reads: “Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In this regard we are committed to free humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.”
So with that in mind, I’ve sifted through the text and pulled some excerpts that apply to key sustainability issues we work on with our clients. (Please keep in mind these are but a few paragraphs from a 49-page diplomatic document and are far from a complete representation of the entire text. You can read it here.)
In particular, it’s interesting to see a new term, “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs), which are a spin-off of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000 to eradicate the world of extreme poverty. (FYI, we quiz all new staff on MDGs as part of their orientation because they are a eye-opening set of parameters for health and environment.) So it looks like, at least, we can see draft SDGs by 2013. Ugh. But like I said Monday, big change takes decades.
“The Future We Want” is the title of the text. Inside Riocentro Convention Center.
Sustainable Development Goals
- “These goals should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their inter-linkages. They should be coherent with and integrated in the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015, thus contributing to the achievement of sustainable development and serving as a driver for implementation and mainstreaming of sustainable development in the United Nations system as a whole. The development of these goals should not divert focus or effort from the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.“
- “An open working group shall be constituted no later than the opening of the 67th session of the UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] … It will submit a report to the 68th session of the UNGA  containing a proposal for sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action.”
Phillippe Cousteau (Jacque’s grandson), representing CNN, moderates the Oceans panel discussion yesterday as part of Rio Dialogue Days.
- “We recognize that oceans, seas and coastal areas form an integrated and essential component of the Earth’s ecosystem and are critical to sustaining it and that international law, as reflected in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), provides the legal framework for the conservation and the sustainable use of the oceans and their resources. We stress the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and seas and of their resources for sustainable development, including through the contributions to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security, creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work, while at the same time protecting biodiversity and the marine environment and addressing the impacts of climate change. We therefore commit to protect, and restore, the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintain their biodiversity, enabling their conservation and sustainable use for present and future generations, and to effectively apply an ecosystem approach and the precautionary approach in the management, in accordance with international law, of activities impacting on the marine environment, to deliver on all three dimensions of sustainable development.”
- “We support the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including socio-economic aspects, established under the United Nations General Assembly, and look forward to the completion of its first global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment by 2014 and its subsequent consideration by the General Assembly.”
Food Security & Nutrition & Sustainable Agriculture
- “We … reaffirm our commitment to enhancing food security and access to adequate, safe and nutritious food for present and future generations in line with the Rome Principles adopted in 2009, including children under two, and through, as appropriate, national, regional and global food security and nutrition strategies.”
- “We reaffirm the important work and inclusive nature of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), including through its role in facilitating country-initiated assessments on sustainable food production and food security, and we encourage countries to give due consideration to implementing the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. We take note of the on-going discussions on responsible agricultural investment in the framework of the CFS, as well as the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI).”
- “We underline the importance of timely, accurate and transparent information in helping to address excessive food price volatility, and in this regard takes note of the Agricultural Market Information System hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and urges the participating international organizations, private sector actors and Governments to ensure the public dissemination of timely and quality food market information products.”
Water & Sanitation
- “We reaffirm the commitments made in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and Millennium Declaration regarding halving by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and the development of integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans, ensuring sustainable water use.”
- “We recognize that improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy, cleaner and energy-efficient technologies are important for sustainable development, including in addressing climate change. We also recognize the need for energy efficiency measures in urban planning, buildings and transportation, and in the production of goods and services and in the design of products. We also recognize the importance of promoting incentives in favour of, and removing disincentives to, energy efficiency and the diversification of the energy mix, including promoting research and development in all countries, including developing countries.”
- “We note the launching of the initiative by the Secretary General on ‘Sustainable Energy for All,’ which focus on access to energy, energy efficiency and renewable energies.”
- “We recognize the importance of the efficient movement of people and goods, and access to environmentally sound, safe and affordable transportation as a means to improve social equity, health, resilience of cities, urban-rural linkages and productivity of rural areas. In this regard, we take into account road safety as a part of our efforts to achieve sustainable development.”
Sustainable Cities & Human Settlements
- “We also commit to promote sustainable development policies that support inclusive housing and social services; a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly children, youth, women, elderly and disabled; affordable and sustainable transport and energy; promotion, protection and restoration of safe and green urban spaces; safe and clean drinking water and sanitation; healthy air quality; generation of decent jobs; and improved urban planning and slum upgrading. We further support sustainable management of waste through the application of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). We underline the importance of considering disaster risk reduction, resilience and climate risks in urban planning. We recognize the efforts of cities to balance development with rural regions.”
- “We recognize the important role of municipal governments in setting a vision for sustainable cities, from the initiation of city planning through to revitalization of older cities and neighborhoods, including by adopting energy efficiency programmes in building management and developing sustainable locally-appropriate transport systems. We further recognize the importance of mixed-use planning and of encouraging non-motorized mobility, including by promoting pedestrian and cycling infrastructures.”
Health & Population
- “We commit to reduce maternal and child mortality, and to improve the health of women, men, youth and children. We reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and to protect the rights of women, men and youth to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive health, free from coercion, discrimination and violence. We will work actively to ensure that health systems provide the necessary information and health services addressing the sexual and reproductive health of women, including working towards universal access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable modern methods of family planning, as this is essential for women’s health and advancing gender equality.”
- “We also recognize the importance of universal health coverage to enhancing health, social cohesion and sustainable human and economic development.”
- “We emphasize that HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, polio and other communicable diseases remain serious global concerns, and we commit to redoubling efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV as well as to renewing and strengthening the fight against malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases.”
Disaster Risk Reduction
- “We reaffirm our commitment to the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters and call for States, the UN system, international financial institutions, subregional, regional and international organizations, and civil society to accelerate implementation of the framework and the achievement of its goals.”