Wednesday, 20 June 2012: Rio+20 summit - Opening day
Brittany Trilford, a 17 year-old from New Zealand addressed world leaders at Rio as a 'voice of youth'. Foto: Reuters/S. Moraes
Just before the opening of the plenary, Christian Figueres (Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC) proposed that negotiators bring their kids to the meetings and take decisions in front of them. He received a big applause. The UN secretary, Ban Ki Moon opened the conference with the movie Planet Under Pressure. Shortly after, 17-year old Brittany Trilford delivered a speech asking the plenary ‘Are you here to save face or are you here to save us?’
Yet, despite big words, it seems that the negotiations may have finished before most of the heads of state even arrived. The outcome document was finalized yesterday and it seems unlikely that Brazil will open up the text for further negotiations. Jonathan Watts of the Guardian believes that it is 90% likely negotiations won’t be reopened. That means that the world leaders will play a largely ceremonial role at the conference, delivering speeches, posing for photos and exchanging handshakes.
Many are disappointed with the final text of the outcome document. David Nussbaum, head of the WWF UK believes that the text is weak and lacking ambitions. He says: 'All the controversial issues were taken out of the text and it would take much political will to put them back again.' The outcome document does not propose any new binding agreements and the word ‘must’ or phrase ‘we will’ appear there only a few times. Instead, ‘support ’is used 99 times and ‘encourage’ 50 times.
So what does the final outcome document say? The text reaffirms previous commitments to phase out ‘harmful and inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies, but does not set a date. Click here for an Avaaz petition that calls upon President Dilma to deliver a real deal to end fossil fuel subsidies.
The document also calls for urgent action on sustainable production and consumption without giving details or a timetable concerning how it could be achieved. The document establishes Sustainable Development Goals but does not specify what they promise. It promises an undefined process that will lead to new protection of open oceans and stronger action to prevent illegal fishing. The report proposes to strengthen but not fundamentally reshape the UN Environmental Programme. Finally, it does not oblige corporations to measure their environmental and social impact but only invites them to do so.
Whether the text of the outcome document will change or not, the challenge is to turn words into action and focus on the implementation of central issues.
In the streets surrounding the Earth Summit, interesting events are taking place in Rio. Today, Rio+20 and Women’s Lives organized a cross-generational dialogue entitled ‘Women’s personal stories for Rio+20 and beyond’. This event gathered six outstanding global women activists from Uganda, Nigeria, Cook Islands, Mississippi/US, Philippines, and Brazil to share their personal narratives showing the cross- cutting impacts of climate change and other environmental issues on their lives.
Text: Marta Dabrowska