The Outcome of The Rio+20 Conference
“The Future We Want” was the title of the document, which concluded the negotiations on the Rio+20 outcomes. Some called it a watered down halfway attempt to mitigate major issues like poverty and climate change and others claim it was a modest to mediocre success on the account that leaders were actually follow through with their commitments.
The gathering of some 50,000 attendees included heads of state governments, international institutions, major groups, passionate activists, and media frenzied journalists. The 10-day conference held in Rio De Janero, Brazil was the largest UN event to date and was geared to help to establish a blueprint of economic growth, advance social equity, and ensure environmental protection. The summit was also set “to agree on a smart range of measures to address poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy, and a more sustainable use of resources.”
As roundtables and panels of world leaders engaged in discussions each day, critical issues that have conspired over the past 10-20 years were addressed but conversed in a non-committal language. Out of the hundreds of important stakeholders and leaders who attended, bold and decisive decisions were never really solidified and their seemed to be a lack of strong agreement.
Although the summit was a great diplomatic opportunity to address looming environmental issues it was also a place for people to come and open a dialogue among others who are invested into helping to address many environmental subjects. While most of the focus was aimed at hammering out broad agreements on pressing problems the other side of Rio was a congregation of citizens who attended related side events in hopes to learn from one another and engage in important global matters.
Some positive financial engagements were made by governments, the private sector, civil society, and other groups with $513 billion in funding committed to go towards a wide range of actions and developmental plans.
Rio+20’s Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, was quoted at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil saying:
“From the very beginning we have said that Rio+20 is about implementation and concrete action,” and “The commitments that we share with you today demonstrate that governments, the UN systems, and the nine major groups are committed and serious about implementation.”
Out of the near 692 pledges made, $323 billion will be going towards achieving universal access to sustainable energy by the year 2030. Other pledges made as a result of the conference was the promise to plant 100 million trees, empower 5,000 women in green economy businesses in Africa, and recycle 800,000 pounds of PVC (the most widely used plastic) each year. In addition to these pledges, major banks and financial institutions agreed to fund $175 billion into developing sustainable transportation and energy systems.
Australia assured they would place one million square miles of their oceans under conservation management, which would establish the largest and most comprehensive network of marine reserves in the world. In addition, they will be investing $33 million over four years to fund fisheries and climate change adaptation in Asia-Pacific nations.
Furthermore, noted in the final outcome document at Rio+20, Norway proclaimed it will invest $140 million over 5 years to make sustainable energy more accessible in Ethiopia’s rural areas, replace kerosene lamps with solar alternatives in Kenya, and support the development of energy and climate plans among other ongoing initiatives.
The United States plans to leverage $2 billion in grants, loans, and loan guarantees for cleaner technologies and 50 states from Africa, Asia, and Latin America agreed to constitute energy plans that might attract investments. Lastly, large corporations like Nike, Coca Cola, and Microsoft voluntarily agreed to reduce their own carbon emissions.
More specifically the finalized document that wrapped up the conference detailed how the green economy could be used as a tool to attain sustainable developmental goals. Moreover, there was an emphasis on improving gender equity, stressing the importance of engaging civil society and the importance of integrating science into policy. The declaration was admittedly not groundbreaking or transformational but more of a plan to begin a series of concerted efforts and actions worldwide.
Overall, participants walked away from the conference with mixed feelings on the success of Rio+20. Undeniably the 10-day mega conference was a little lack luster in certain respects but if global leaders honor their commitments that they announced then it could mean billions in funding in clean energy and sustainability investments which could result in thousands of jobs, cleaner air and water, and a brighter future for generations to come. Another positive thing to take away from Rio was that it started a global dialogue between 50 million people worldwide through social media platforms where individuals voiced their opinions, which inadvertently helps spread the word on critical matters the earth faces today.
Secretary General Sha was quoted saying:
“Rio+20 has been a great success. It had a huge participation, but participation without success means nothing, but we succeeded in concluding negotiations and agreeing to establish not only sustainable development goals but also a high-level forum to monitor the implementation of all commitments.”
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