20 June 2012
Countries agree on draft text for Rio+20 summit
Delegates from 193 countries reached on Tuesday an agreement on the outcome document of the Rio+20. According to a top UN official, it is a “compromise text” but “contains a lot of action, and if this action is implemented, and if follow-up measures are taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change.” Environmentalists say the text is too weak, but others say it is a positive step forward.
Delegates from 193 countries announced on Tuesday that they have reached an agreement on the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, according to the UN News Centre.
“We now have a text which will be adopted at the Conference,” Rio+20’s Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, said in a statement.
“We think the text contains a lot of action, and if this action is implemented, and if follow-up measures are taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change.”
On Friday, the responsibility of the negotiations was handed over to the Brazilian Government, which holds the Presidency of Rio+20. Delegations worked on the consolidated text presented by the South American nation until late last night, before announcing their agreement on Tuesday.
Mr. Sha stressed that since the document is the result of intensive and prolonged negotiations, it is a “compromise text,” in which countries have had to both give and take to achieve progress.
“Like all negotiations, there will be some countries that feel the text could be more ambitious. Or, others who feel their own proposals could be better reflected, while still others might prefer to have their own language,” he said. “But, let’s be clear: multilateral negotiations require give and take.”
The text will now be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at the conclusion of Rio+20 on Friday.
Spelling out action pointsThe agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilize financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production, among others.
It also stresses the need to include women, non-governmental organizations, and indigenous groups in the sustainable development agenda, and calls on the private sector to engage in sustainable corporate business practices.
In addition to the outcome text, there have been over 400 voluntary commitments for sustainable development by Member States in the lead-up to the high-level meeting of Rio+20, which officially starts on Wednesday with an address by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“The spirit of compromise is the mark of a good consensus, and crucial if all countries are to be on board, take ownership, and share a collective commitment,” Mr. Sha said. “This is the only way forward if we want to harness the necessary action for advancing together on a path of sustainable development.”
Rio+20’s high-level meeting runs from 20-22 June, and is expected to bring together over 100 heads of state and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
The full draft text
Positive step forward, but too weakEnvironmentalists complained the draft text on green global development was too weak, writes Reuters.
The Rio+20 was supposed to hammer out aspirational, rather than mandatory sustainable development goals across core areas like food security, water and energy, but the draft text agreed upon by diplomats failed to define those goals or give clear timetables toward setting them,
The text "has too much 'take note' and 'reaffirm' and too little 'decide' and 'commit'. (The) big task now for U.N. nations to follow up" on this, said EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard on social network Twitter.
Environmental groups criticized the text, saying it omitted or watered down important proposals and challenged heads of state to act urgently to respond to climate change.
The draft text omitted a clause calling for governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which have nearly tripled since 2009, despite a pledge by G20 countries to eliminate them.
Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 would reduce annual global energy demand by 5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 6 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.
Oil producing countries, including Venezuela and Canada, blocked inclusion of the clause, despite a huge social media push on Monday to include phase-out language in the text, with over 100,000 tweets on Twitter.
An eagerly awaited decision on a governance structure for the high seas was also postponed for three years, after the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia and Venezuela opposed strong language to implement it.
Heads of state and ministers, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will meet with diplomats representing other nations from Wednesday for three days to discuss the text and possibly make some changes to its wording.
Observers do not expect major amendments. For instance, U.S. special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, told reporters on Tuesday he did not expect the document to change much after heads of state meet to discuss it.
Step forward, focus on implementationThe document represents a positive step forward. While it is not the major breakthrough we had 20 years ago it puts us on the pathway to sustainable development, Selwyn Hart, diplomat for Barbados, told Reuters.
"The formal negotiations might be over but (leaders here tomorrow) need to focus on the implementation of some of the central issues dealt with in the document," he added.
Separately, in a meeting of big-city mayors at an old fortress in Rio, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and colleagues from around the world sought to show how cities, can make progress even if a multi-national agreement isn't possible.
Cities are responsible for up to three-quarters of global greenhouse gases. Measures already underway in major cities, the mayors said, are on track to reduce their combined emission of greenhouse gases by 248 million tons by 2020, an amount equal to the current annual emissions of Mexico and Canada together.
The measures, the mayors said, include everything from better waste management to more efficient lighting, and would include biofuel and electric-powered municipal transport.
Noting the sluggish pace of the multi-national negotiations, Bloomberg said cities "aren't arguing with each other. We're going out there and making progress."
Reflecting of major concerns of countriesThe outcome document has comprehensive content with positive, balanced tone, basically reflecting of major concerns of participating countries, and is of great significance for promoting international cooperation for sustainable development, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, writes Xinhua.
The document reaffirmed the Rio principles, especially the " common but differentiated responsibilities" principle, which is the guiding principle to maintain the basis for international development cooperation, he said.
On the issue of green economy, the document calls for respect for the sovereignty, national conditions and stage of development of each country, focuses on the issue of poverty eradication and urges developed countries to provide external support to developing countries.
Ma said the document called for the establishment of a high-level political forum for countries to implement sustainable development, providing guidance for each country to balance economic, social development and environmental protection.
The document reaffirmed that developed countries should fulfill commitment to provide 0.7 percent of GNP as official development assistance to developing countries, transferring environmentally friendly technologies on concessional terms to strengthen their capacity building.
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