Reviving the spirit of Rio  

Posted by Big Gav

The BBC has an article by Maurice Strong and Felix Dodds on the second Rio summit - Reviving the spirit of Rio.

In two years' time, Rio de Janeiro will host another Earth Summit - 20 years after the first. The idea was proposed in 2007 by Brazil's President Lula da Silva at the UN General Assembly.

It was clear to President Lula and to a growing number of others that the world has changed enormously since 1992, when the world agreed to Agenda 21 - the blueprint for creating a sustainable way of life in the 21st Century.

Rio 2012 could provide much-needed new momentum to international co-operation, not only on environment and sustainable development, but also on the problems that underpin the global financial crisis.

Broken promises

Most of the problems the world now faces have been on the international agenda for decades, some going back as far the Stockholm environmental conference in 1972.

They have now reached more acute, crisis proportions - not as a result of the lack of proclaimed government commitments to action, but to their dismal performance in implementing their agreements.

Indeed, if governments had implemented the many conventions, treaties and declarations they have negotiated from Stockholm to Rio to Kyoto to Johannesburg, we would be well along the road to sustainability.

Governments have done little to carry out their commitments, particularly as to helping finance developing countries' movement towards sustainability.

This failure has only added to the anger of most developing countries at the continued broken promises, and has undermined their ability to make commitments of their own.

As a result, we now face challenges on a number of fronts:

* Human societies are living beyond the carrying capacity of the planet
* Climate change has emerged as an out-of-control driver of many of the world's environmental and economic crises
* The still-prevailing, consumption-based economic model is not only failing to deliver progress to enormous numbers of the world's population, but is seriously threatening the economic stability of all nations, and compromising the prospect for any of us to live on this planet
* There is now an increasing link between environment and security
* Governments have still not given the UN the mandate, the resources or the institutional capacities required to monitor and enforce international agreements.

All of these issues can be positively influenced by Earth Summit 2012.

But addressing them successfully will require an ambitious and creative agenda.

The UN General Assembly resolution last year which endorsed the summit, produced just that - including these areas of focus:

1. The green economy and poverty alleviation

The current economic model, which has brought unprecedented prosperity to the more developed countries, has only deepened the disparity between them and most developing countries.

Its excesses now threaten the stability of the entire global financial system as well.

The past 30 years have been characterised by irresponsible capitalism, pursuing limitless economic growth at the expense of both society and environment, channelling more and more money into fewer hands, with little or no regard for the natural resource base upon which such wealth is built.

The principal goal of our economy should be to improve the lives of all the world's people and to free them from want and ignorance - without compromising the planet itself.

An economy that integrates sustainable development principles with responsible capitalism can produce enough wealth to meet the needs of people in all nations, equitably and sustainably.

Energy use based on fossil fuels is at the heart of the dilemma, and is the principal source of climate change which threatens the future of all.

Earth Summit 2012 can clearly draw a roadmap to set the world on the path to a new "green" economy that is sustainable, equitable and accessible to all, including the urgent transition to renewable energy. ...


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