Agriculture / Brazil / China / Event report / India / Opinion piece / Policy

Rio+20 ‘ducked’ political realities: Time for South to show ‘political muscle and imaginative thinking’

Happy Dragon

Happy dragon in Fengdu, China (photo on Flickr by Major Clanger).

SciDevNet’s David Dickson argues in an opinion piece last week that the outcomes of the June Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development illustrate that leadership from developing countries will be key to global sustainable development.

Dickson says that the result of Rio-20 was ‘the agreement, by all 188 participating nations, on an outcome document that was filled with aspirations and exhortations about the need for the world to move to a more sustainable path of economic and social development, but lacking any firm commitment to the more painful steps needed to achieve this goal.

‘Inevitably, this outcome has satisfied virtually no-one engaged in the process (apart from the host country).

‘But the increased focus that it provided on the political realities on which the Copenhagen meeting foundered—and which Rio+20 ducked—has itself been a significant step forward.

What became clearer than ever at Rio was that the key to global sustainable development . . . now lies in the combination of political muscle and imaginative thinking in the developing world, particularly the so-called “emerging economies” of countries such as Brazil, China and India. . . .

‘The organisers of Rio+20 were keen to emphasise that even as the formal proceedings turned out to be disappointing, this had been partially compensated for by the enormous networking opportunities the meeting provided for sustainable development stakeholders.

‘In particular, by the end of the meeting, more than 700 pledges—valued at over US$500 billion—had been registered for concrete actions through, for example, individual institutional commitments or partnership agreements. . . .

‘The scientific meetings held in the run-up to Rio+20—including both the Planet Under Pressure meeting in London in April, and the International Council for Science and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, held two weeks ago in Rio itself—both underlined the urgency of taking action on many fronts. . . .

‘It is now up to the developing world and its emerging economies to show that they can do better—for example, by taking on a key role in defining the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals—and providing the political muscle to make this happen. . . .’

Read the whole opinion piece by David Dickson, of SciDevNet, After Rio+20, developing countries must take the lead, 29 Jun 2012.

Read more about Rio+20 on the ILRI News Blog:

And on the ILRI Clippings Blog:

One thought on “Rio+20 ‘ducked’ political realities: Time for South to show ‘political muscle and imaginative thinking’

  1. See also this corrective post in the Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog to media hype saying Rio+20 was total failure:

    Some of the reasons this article cites to be cheerful:

    ‘. . . NGOs always scream murder because it is their job to push governments, that pundits exaggerate because they are controversialists, and that UN conferences must disappoint because all views have to be accommodated.

    ‘But what was important about Rio 1992, he said, was not the agreements signed or the promises made – it would be naive to think they would be met, he thought – but that a new global understanding about development and the environment was emerging, which would challenge orthodoxies and bring change. The articulation of the problems and the discussion about the solutions was as important as the limited response that any government could give. . . .

    ‘So, in the light of the vast growth in global environmental awareness and technological change that has taken place in the past 20 years, and which is bound to grow in the next 20, here are a few good reasons to look back at Rio+20 and be a little more cheerful: . . .’

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