Friday, 22 June 2012

Strong legally binding text, passionate civil society movement or maybe a bit of both

A worthy initial note, Rio must be the most beautiful city in the entire world - the sheer jungle cliff faces make a perfect backdrop for a world environmental conference. It is a pity of course that the conference is less environmentally inspiring and is funded by less environmentally inspiring mining companies and multinational corporations like coca cola. 

So to the theme of this blog; I would like to share with you my reflections of Rio +20 so far. In such a fast paced environment it is hard to slow down enough to be able to sit still and write a blog, however as my discontent over the process grows – I feel the need to get across my observations to you all.

My focus for the conference is two-fold: I am looking at mining for sustainable development and an analytical interpretation of the implementability of the legal document that will be produced at the end of the Rio +20 conference.

The conference will create a non-legally binding document supported by States to reaffirm previous texts and commit to sustainable development and green economy initiatives. The current text was described by Jeffrey Sachs in a panel discussion this morning as a ‘call for action’ in a flexible way, outside the constraints of bubble-wrapped legally binding agreement. But where is the incentive if not in a legally binding text? 

The text was closed by Brazil on June 19 bringing a halt to negotiations. Brazil, to save face, closed the text in a successful attempt to ensure an outcome is secured at the conclusion of Rio +20 on 22 June. The closure of the text understandably left many countries in the lurch as the hope for reaching a strong agreement quickly dissipated.

The general consensus on June 20 was that the text did not provide strong language and would not create commitments to take action. There were whispers of powerful players, the EU and Switzerland walking out of the plenary in disgust and hope that this action would push for a consensus to re-open the text among States.

This now seems unlikely, and it is with reserved sobriety that I and many States have come around to the idea that the final text will remain a weak non-committal document. It has been noted that the current text somewhat reflects the result of the Rio earth summit of 1992, and that what will follow in the aftermath of the conference will create strong conventions and global initiatives. Time will tell.

I however have hope and take consolation in the fact that a move toward a sustainable and environmentally secure world cannot be achieved through a document alone. The move will need to be an institutional overhaul of the status-quo as such multi-faceted issues deserve multi-faceted responses. I have come to a compromised understanding within myself after all I have seen over the past few days that through civil-society movements, communication, education, technology, legal and regulatory frameworks, green economics and most importantly a dedicated passion to make change we can achieve a world that will be progressively more sustainable and will provide a safe environmental future for us all.

This is my hope; some would say it is naïve. However, as I stand in solidarity with the people of this world, these people who care enough in their hearts to come together and fight for the future they want, I cannot help but think that a better and more sustainable world is still within our grasp.

May I also add what a privilege it has been to work with such inspirational and motivated people, further proof that a global sustainable future can be achieved.

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