25 years down the track we have embarked on a process that could bring about the shift in our collective consciousness that can redefine the relationship we have with our economies, our environment, and one another. So far it seems like there is certainly an intention, a hope, that we could achieve this says Kirsty Schneeberger, Senior Project Officer at Stakeholder Forum
The first meeting of 2012 on Rio +20 – the informal discussions on the initial Zero Draft text – has commenced. The ball is rolling and in no time at all we will find ourselves at 20th June reaching agreement on the finer details of the Outcome Document, which has the potential to be one of the most defining moments of this generation. Many articles in this edition of Outreach refer to the Brundtland Commission and the vision that was shown in its report that had (and remains to have) a powerful impact on the way in which we view sustainability.
25 years down the track we have embarked on a process that could bring about the shift in our collective consciousness that can redefine the relationship we have with our economies, our environment, and one another. So far it seems like there is certainly an intention, a hope, that we could achieve this. Let us continue to hope that this intention develops into purposeful action.
Major Groups briefing in the morning
- A briefing was offered to the Major Groups in the morning to set the scene for the days ahead. It was also an opportunity for representatives from the various organisations to network, share ideas, and discuss their plans for the informal talks.
- Brazil has announced that 30 Heads of State have committed to attending Rio, including China, Germany, and India. This is a very positive step towards raising the ambition that can be achieved at Rio and it is hoped that all other Heads of State and Government soon announce their intention to attend;
- So far there have been 17 submissions made by Member States and Political Groups that contain comments on Sections 1 and 2 of the Zero Draft. These submissions are set to be published on the UNCSD website where all the other information on the Zero Draft is contained; and
- The NGO Major Group agreed the text of its formal intervention which focusses on vision and urgency, participation, accountability, and implementation.
In the Plenary
- There is a clear tension between brevity and specificity. Resolving this tension is a major balancing act for the Bureau and Secretariat because whilst the Outcome Document must be focussed, it must also have enough detail to ensure that aspirations will be matched with actions;
- Means of implementation and action on Sustainable Development on the ground was strongly emphasised;
- The G77 proposed that the 17th February deadline for country positions be pushed back to a later date, and there are murmurings in the corridors that many support this proposal;
- Overwhelmingly Member States were calling for the text to be more ambitious – that the initial draft offered a very good platform to build upon, and importantly to build ambition into, but that more certainly needs to be done to ensure this happens.. It is very encouraging to have Member States calling on themselves to pick up the pace and move into a higher gear. At the very least it demonstrates the intention to agree to an ambitious outcome in Rio;
- Reaffirming the Rio Principles was a priority for many, particularly the Principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR). Such reaffirmation of the previously agreed Rio Principles as well Agenda 21 will lay the ground for reaching agreement this June. As our review of the Rio As our review of the Rio Principles has shown, many have been translated from soft to hard law at the international and national levels; however there are still many gaps in implementation.
As the day finished there were still nearly 20 delegates hoping to speak, and they will have the chance first thing in the morning to articulate their views. Clearly Rio +20 is an important moment for all who are participating here. In order to progress in the positive direction that we would like to see, cooperation and collaboration will be vital to ensuring that the process lives up to the potential of being such an important milestone of 2012.
Not only will delegates do themselves and their countries proud, but through safeguarding the future, they will do their posterity proud for generations to come.
This article is cross-posted from Stakeholder Forum’s Outreach, a multi-stakeholder magazine on environment and sustainable development.