“Future We Want” proposals are not the future we need: WWF

Posted on 12 January 2012

Gland, Switzerland – The first negotiating draft for the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development has the direction right, but the magnitude wrong, global environmental organization WWF said today.
Gland, Switzerland – The first negotiating draft for the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development has the direction right, but the magnitude wrong, global environmental organization WWF said today.

“The Future We Want” Zero Draft acknowledges the need for poverty eradication, food security, and measures of progress towards sustainable development, but has few practical measures to enable the world to meet challenges in balancing competing global food, water and energy needs over the next 10 years.

“This document recognizes that countries have failed to act effectively on the environment and development over the last two decades but its lack of binding commitments risks setting us up for another decade of failure,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director, Conservation at WWF International.

“The proposed “Register of Voluntary Commitments” just will not get the world where it needs to be,” he said.

WWF has identified the need to solve the “Food, Energy, Water” equation as crucial to the success of such a critical global conference intended to give the world a new sense of purpose in achieving sustainable development 20 years after the original Earth Summit. But this first negotiating draft for the Rio+20 summit is especially weak on water-related ambition.

“Rio 2012 could fail solely on the basis of what it does – or doesn’t do – on freshwater,” said Gustavsson. “At this point, the document isn’t offering much more than a recommitment to sanitation systems.”

“What we need is water management based on natural, not political boundaries; a commitment to protect and restore vital freshwater systems; protection for the forests that safeguard our water supplies; and to prepare the world for the major water supply impacts of climate change.”

WWF welcomes the commitment to the sustainable management of marine and ocean resources, but is concerned there is no commitment to a sorely needed system of high seas protection, no workable safeguards for the sustainability of dwindling fish stocks, and no proposals for curtailing criminal exploitation of marine living resources.

“We welcome the fact that a number of priority issues have been addressed, including the need for government and business frameworks to develop green economies, a move towards low carbon development and the elimination of environmentally harmful subsidies,” said Gustavsson.

Other WWF concerns:

· The proposals for change are based on “voluntary national commitments” – which are not legally binding and will not commit countries to meet any targets or to work within a given timeframe. Countries need to agree targets, timelines and funding that match the challenges they are tackling.

· The text on developing green economies fails to require bringing social and environmental costs into national accounts, tax measures and certification schemes.

· Proposals to tackle food, water and energy security need specific targets, concrete implementation measures and a clear funding agreement.

· The text fails to take into account the critical role of climate change, and of ecosystem services which are key factors underpinning the production of food, energy and water.

· Many of the proposals for change are vague and open-ended. For example there are no targets for stopping deforestation or goals for effective water management.

For further information:

Richard McLellan, WWF International, rmclellan@wwfint.org, +41 79 786 9609

Natalie Boudou, WWF International, nboudou@wwfint.org, +41 79 820 2898

About WWF

WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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Freshwater availability is likely to be a priority topic at Rio+20 conference later this year