Rio+20 draft divides opinion

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, say the Rio+20 draft agreement is broadly positive but that they would have liked it to be stronger and to go further, others fail to see the positive angle...

“One of the benefits of reaching agreement so quickly is that it leaves everyone with three full days to build on the agreement and start to turn some of the words into actions,” said Ms Spelman. “Rio needs to be a workshop rather than a talking shop, and that’s what we have.”

The draft, which is due to be debated and approved by world leaders throughout today and tomorrow, includes action points on the need to establish Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), mobilise finance for sustainable development, as well as encourage the promotion of sustainable consumption and production. It also stresses the need to include women, non-governmental organisations and indigenous groups in the sustainable development agenda, while calling on the private sector to engage in sustainable corporate business practices.

While arguing that the UK team at Rio+20 could be pretty positive about what they had achieved, the Environment Secretary agreed it will ‘disappoint some’. The drive for progress on SDGs had been achieved, however, alongside efforts to get more businesses reporting on sustainability performance.

“Starting in September, a group set up by the United Nations General Assembly, will begin work to turn the agreement into actual goals,” she added. “The future we want was never going to be achieved in one week. We have to go one step at a time, and this has been a big step forward.”

Others were less impressed by the Rio+20 draft, such as Friends of the Earth International who said it was a ‘gift to corporate polluters’ and did nothing to address the environmental and social crises the world is facing.

WWF Director General Jim Leape was equally forthright, declaring the draft to be a colossal failure of leadership and vision.

“The diplomats at Rio+20 should be embarrassed at their inability to find common ground on such a crucial issue,” he said. “Now it’s up to world leaders to get serious about sustainable development and save this process. If they approve what’s on the table now without significant changes, they’ve doomed Rio+20 to ridicule.”

Edie staff

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