Rio hosts UN environment summit
More than 190 countries have gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the largest ever United Nations summit on the environment in a fresh bid to negotiate a common environmental blueprint amid economic woes and discord.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also named Rio+20, is taking place 20 years after the original Earth Summit in 1992. Running from 20th June to 22nd June, the summit seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection on a more sustainable pathway.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the world has made little progress on environmental issues since the first Rio meeting in 1992. “We are now in sight of a historic agreement,” Ban said in his address to Rio+20’s opening session. “The world is watching to see if words will translate into action, as we know they must.”
“Twenty years ago, the Earth Summit put sustainable development on the global agenda. Yet let me be frank: our efforts have not lived up to the measure of the challenge,” Ban told delegates. “Nature does not wait. Nature does not negotiate with human beings.”
The opening session also heard from a youth from New Zealand, Brittany Trilford, who won a competition to send a message on behalf of the world’s youth. Trilford told the world leaders: “You have 72 hours to decide the fate of your children – my children – my children’s children – and I start the clock now.”
Despite the presence of the president of France, and Russian and Chinese ministers, several high profile leaders are missing, including US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that public listed companies will have to report their greenhouse gas emissions annually from next year onwards. “Counting your business costs while hiding your greenhouse gas emissions is a false economy,” said Clegg.
Rio+20 Secretary-General Sha Zukang announced that member states will adopt an outcome document entitled The Future We Want at the conference. “We think the text contains a lot of action, and if this action is implemented, and if follow-up measures are taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change.”
The draft document called for countries to pursue “sustainable development goals,” which are similar to the existing Millennium Development Goals to drive action on sustainable food, water and energy.