The Guardian reported that the final draft of the Rio+20 document has been released just a few hours before world leaders fly into Brazil. Although there are 283 separate sections of the document which I spent some time going over, it offers precious little in terms of finding active solutions to the various problems it “recognizes, “acknowledges” or “notes.”
The entire document leaves so much to be desired. From a policy standpoint, there is nothing there that offers any kind of support for moving sustainability forward. Indeed, the document would seem more appropriate for the first Rio Earth Summit rather than this one. It does a splendid job of acknowledging what has been achieved but it fails to mention what still needs to be done. According to a recent report by Nature, which has released a Rio Report Card, we have failed to live up to the ledges and treaties since 1992 and with a few exceptions, we are doing extremely poorly.
Kumi Naidoo, the International Director of Greenpeace released a statement, saying: “The approach that has been taken is to go for the lowest common denominator. The trick here is to look very carefully at the UN-ese language being used. If they use the world ‘voluntary’, it means it is not going to happen.”
Apart from the lack of strong language, the draft also disappoints when it comes to pursuing active commitments on a timeline and actually getting world leaders to arrive at an action plan.
According to The Guardian, “the draft that will be presented to the 100 leaders attending the summit will contain almost no timetables, definitions or ways to monitor new sustainable development goals, nor will it strongly commit nations to move to a “green economy” that integrates environmental and social costs into decision-making.”
Prior to the summit, there was hope that there would be a set of goals in each socio-enviro sector like food scarcity, renewable energy, ocean protection, women’s empowerment etc. Not only are these poorly defined, there is also also no clear direction on how to move forward. Overall, this rather flaccid document has drawn criticisms from many civil society leaders.
Jim Leape, the head of WWF has said that, “It’s pathetic. If this text proposed by Brazil is accepted, then the last year of negotiations has been a colossal waste of time. If you saw this document without knowing what it was supposed to be, you might think Rio+20 was convened as a seminar.”
Nobody can escape blame, especially every nation that is participating in the conference that has not committed to binding requirements, as well as emerging economies like China, that are not ready to accept anything that might commit them to monitoring. Countries like the US and EU are also intent on pushing their own agenda and backtracking on prior agreements.
This conference was supposed to be the common ground but from the sound of this document, it may not exist at all.