Rio+20: Is this the future we want?
The summit has finished but the campaign for a greener, fairer world is far from over. What did Rio+20 have to say about the issues we’ve been campaigning on: the green economy, the role of the private sector and access to sustainable energy for all?
So what did Rio+20 have to say about the issues we’ve been campaigning on: the green economy, the role of the private sector and access to sustainable energy for all?
We welcome the fact that the Rio+20 outcome agreement – The Future We Want - placed the Green Economy firmly in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. However, the text agreed at Rio is too weak to ensure a transition to the Green Economy, because of the voluntary nature of the provisions.
The ‘best endeavour’ nature of this agreement is perplexing: there are no meaningful commitments to support developing countries in greening their economies and certainly no money pledges. There is little meat on the bones of how we will achieve real technology transfer and companies are only invited to consult on how to be greener.
At best it’s the start of a process. Much will depend on what happens at a national level, but there is no mechanism for accountability or for peer review or to see how far countries are achieving these aspirations.
The Rio +20 agreement has given the private sector a central role in achieving sustainable development. It is important to remember that businesses need to be transparent and accountable as well. Some companies report a lot, but many are opaque and secretive about their operations.
To change the patchy, piecemeal status quo, any increased role for global businesses has to be accompanied by mandatory corporate reporting on the social, environmental and human rights impacts of their operations at home and abroad.
Access to Energy
We welcome the commitment to make access for 1.4 billion people to ‘modern sustainable energy’ a reality, recognising this is essential for poverty reduction. However, there are no specifics about how this will be achieved, by whom and when.
Many questions remain: will the 1.4 billion people currently living in energy poverty be consulted about what services they need and who will measure if they are getting them? What is meant by ‘modern and sustainable’ energy? Does this include big hydro-electric projects, bio-fuels and even “cleaner” fossil fuels, as the text suggests? Where will the finance needed to crack energy poverty come from? The declaration gives us the aspiration, but leaves the key questions unanswered.
MPs sign Rio declaration
Campaigns Officer Armelle le Comte said, "Prior to the summit, thousands of you emailed your MPs, through Stop Climate Chaos, urging them to sign the Rio declaration. In response, 90 MPs and AMs expressed their commitment to a greener, fairer world. Thank you for reminding our elected politicians about how important poverty and climate are to voters and urging them to keep these issues high on the agenda, at home and in international meetings."