Rio+20 - Reflections of Sr. Denise Boyle
Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, declared it a great success. His criteria for saying this was the unanimous consensus by the one hundred World Leaders present on the outcome document called ‘The Future We Want’, plus the pledging of $513 billion in funding to achieve a sustainable future.
‘Great success’ was not how many of the 40,000 participants, who had lobbied passionately for a people-centred as opposed to an economic-centred approach to sustainable development, could describe the conference! In order to ensure consensus, the final 53-page Rio+20 document was a watered down version of the original working document. It is biased towards economic growth, containing no binding obligations for Governments or monitoring of the implementation of recommendations within a time-frame.
Tough decisions with economic implications like the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, worth about $800 billion worldwide were removed from the final document, as was the proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) originally called the ‘Tobin tax’. In 2011 the FTT, operative in 40 countries, raised $38 billion; money governments can use to implement earth friendly policies and programmes for the poor. When the final document was passed the response from many civil society groups including Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) was to say it is ‘The Future We Don’t Want!’