Posted on 05 June 2012
Two weeks out from the 20-year reprise of the Rio Earth Summit, and two years after negotiations started, global conservation organization WWF issued a World Environment Day warning that failures of commitment, failures of process and failures of leadership could lead to the collapse of talks on achieving a long-term sustainable world.
: Two weeks out from the 20-year reprise of the Rio Earth Summit, and two years after negotiations started, global conservation organization WWF issued a World Environment Day warning that failures of commitment, failures of process and failures of leadership could lead to the collapse of talks on achieving a long-term sustainable world.
“Currently we are a long way from where we need to be in these negotiations,” said WWF Director General, Jim Leape. “Heads of State still have a unique opportunity in Rio to set the world on a path to sustainable development – but they need to step up their game dramatically. As things currently stand, we are facing two likely scenarios – an agreement so weak it is meaningless, or complete collapse. Neither of these options would give the world what it needs.”
An extra week given over to negotiations fell into disarray over the weekend as the talks fractured into 19 separate dialogues with internal disagreements on the processes to be followed. “Country positions are still too entrenched and too far apart to provide a meaningful draft agreement for approval by an expected 120 Heads of State,” said Leape.
The most recent text was a significant weakening of previous drafts, particularly in the areas of valuing natural wealth, energy and ocean protection, and even that was privately rejected by a number of delegations.
“When they gather in Rio, governments must restrain the flow of weasel words that is threatening to emasculate any agreement,” said Leape. “They are not helping their people or the planet by ‘noting’, ‘recognising’ or ‘emphasising’. We need to see time-bound commitment and action words like ‘will’, ‘must’ and ‘deliver’,” said Leape.
“These talks about our common future risk being strangled by short-term views focused on national interests that are to nobody’s long-term benefit. Governments must come out of their corners, and together embrace a bold vision for a better future for all – and do what it takes to get there.”
WWF’s recent Living Planet Report warned that the world currently consumes 1.5 planets worth of resources, with Rio+20 being one of the most immediate and potentially influential opportunities to equitably bring consumption to sustainable levels.
While rescuing the Rio talks will be difficult, leaders need to deliver a clear political mandate to ensure food, water and energy security for all by 2030. Concretely, this means agreeing to integrate the value of nature into national and corporate accounting standards, eliminating harmful subsidies, agreeing to Sustainable Development Goals and strong regimes to protect oceans.
Heads of State can deliver concrete outcomes by instructing foreign ministers and delegations to focus on points of agreement rather than points of difference. “This is a matter of urgency – and we need our political leaders to show they mean business by quickly coming to agreement on the fundamental changes in the way economies are managed to protect our future,” said Leape.