Member states agree on the UN Rio+20 conference outcome document
Members States announced on Wednesday that they have reached an agreement on the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
“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.”
The text will now be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at the conclusion of Rio+20 on Friday.
The 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 started on Wednesday with an address by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
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 first Rio Earth summit in 1992 paved the way for a global treaty on biodiversity, and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, which is due to expire this year. The Rio+20 moniker is a nod to the 1992 summit.
Heads of state and ministers, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and US 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. US 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.
We don't have anything that we are expecting to try to drive into the document that is not there yet, he said.
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.
This summit could be over before it's started. World leaders must start afresh. Rio+20 should be a turning point, said Oxfam spokesman Stephen Hale.
There's no sign of that here. Almost a billion hungry people deserve better.
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 the United States, 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 with the hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies.
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.
There's no commitment - it's like telling your girlfriend you promise to decide in three years whether or not to decide, whether or not to get married, said Susanna Fuller of the High Seas Alliance, a coalition of NGOs.
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 bio-fuel 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”.