Post Rio: CAN-I and Beyond2015 Position to the UN thematic consultation on Sustainable Environment

 

This paper is a response by international civil society, represented by CAN-International and Beyond 2015, to the thematic consultation on Sustainable Environment launched by the UN in relation to the work of the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.
 
We want to note that the siloed approach to the 11 thematic consultations, while understandable for practical reasons, should be re-considered by the UN. One of the greatest challenges and opportunities for the post-2015 development framework is precisely to break down the fragmented approach of the MDGs to fully capture the cross-cutting synergies between and among the different themes. In order for the consultations to be effective, we need to move to a holistic, sustainable, approach and advance one global development agenda that is people-centered, inclusive, and sustainable.
 
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UN Launches Online Platform for Environmental Sustainability Thematic Consultation

UNDP and UNEP invite civil society to the Post-2015 environmental sustainability global consultation through their online platform.  The platform allows civil society to participate in the consultation, provide papers and input, as well as comment through the process.  Click on the link http://www.worldwewant2015.org/sustainability and register today!

The Rio Gap

One of the key obstacles to achieving sustainable development is agreeing who will carry the burden. Stopping environmental degradation requires resources. Some argue those resources could be needed somewhere else, such as eradicating poverty. So it could appear that the need to eradicate poverty and the need to stop environmental degradation are in conflict.

ECO does not buy into this argument.  At all.  Environmental degradation is fast becoming the biggest contributor to increased poverty. If we want to eradicate poverty, then we need to invest also in what is leading to more poverty, which includes fighting environmental degradation.

The more scarce resources become, the more sustainability must be at the center of poverty alleviation. The world has no choice but to choose a path that would combine them.  In fact, many developed and developing countries are already providing a lot of good examples on the national and subnational levels, such as developing efficient public transport that reduces CO2 emissions and at the same time increase mobility and affordability, which is needed for economic development.

Now that governments have agreed as little as they have, given the existing and rather pathetic political will now available, the question is what will they do when they go back home. The current conference document, with all its weaknesses, has nonetheless indicated many potential opportunities for further action. There are no hard numerical commitments and actions in the text, but it provides processes for governments to develop these commitments and actions. Such processes include:

  •  establishing an intergovernmental high level political forum that will follow up on the implementation of the sustainable development commitments contained in Agenda 21,
  • committing to promote an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities and urban settlements,
  • committing to maintain and restore marine resources to sustainable levels with the aim of achieving these goals for depleted stocks on an urgent basis by 2015,
  • adopting the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on sustainable consumption and production (SCP),
  • resolving to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on SDGs that is open to all stakeholders.

There are many other opportunities highlighted within the existing text for governments to take us forward. Nevertheless, this will not happen unless political reality on the ground changes.

The failure of the international process is not because multilateralism is wrong. The process is good. What we lack is political will. The international process can only work within existing political will. If there is no new political will to capture, the process will not do anything.

Political will is not created at international venues, it is created back at home, and on the streets. It is up to the youth and civil society movements to take it forward.

But reality can change, and we saw it in the Arab Spring. What is needed is persistence, and continued action.  Civil society campaigned for years in Egypt to achieve political change against harsh suppression, but they never gave up. Then a tipping point was reached, and everything changed in only one day.

Civil society must use all the anger that exists as a result of the Rio+20 reality check, and then alter that reality.  After all, we are running out of time.

So ECO is going home for now.  We are angry, but that will focus our energy, and we will organize. Because as Nelson Mandela so wisely said: “it always seems impossible, until it is done.”

Related Newsletter : 

Fossil of the Day awards for ALL governments for agreeing a future we DON'T want

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award 
was today given to ALL governments attending the Rio+20 summit. NGOs 
reacted to the adoption of a shockingly weak outcome text applauded by 
all governments in the plenary this morning, pointing out that - 
contrary to the document's title - the agreement did NOT reflect the 
future they want.

The text of today's Fossil award reads as follows:

"For the first time ever, yesterday, we awarded Big Oil a Fossil of the 
day - and the Fossil itself became the target of a protest by some angry 
billionaire CEO’s.

Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil 
to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up, Canada for 
tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The 
United States and Japan, for weilding the literal and metaphorical 
delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon, and the other Big Oil 
states for weakening language on subsidies and trying their best to cut 
the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn’t feel like 
that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook.

The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure. Yet all governments have 
applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand 
success.

This is NOT the future we want, if anything this is the future that big 
polluters have bought.

With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable 
development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue 
to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry - 
yet here in Rio they’ve all come up with empty pockets. The first step 
is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the 
planet, and like I said, that's just the first step. There is still 
miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having 
the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future.

Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has 
had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, 
this fossil is for every single nation here, and for all the world 
leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to 
sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.

There are 3 days left here in Rio, and without a change this summit 
will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders 
who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of 
destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, Heads of 
State and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole 
world is watching, the planet is burning, and they are holding matches."

 

 

Fossil of the Day awards for ALL governments for agreeing a future we DON'T want

In an unprecedented move, the Fossil of the Day award 
was today given to ALL governments attending the Rio+20 summit. NGOs 
reacted to the adoption of a shockingly weak outcome text applauded by 
all governments in the plenary this morning, pointing out that - 
contrary to the document's title - the agreement did NOT reflect the 
future they want.

The text of today's Fossil award reads as follows:

"For the first time ever, yesterday, we awarded Big Oil a Fossil of the 
day - and the Fossil itself became the target of a protest by some angry 
billionaire CEO’s.

Today, we faced a monumental task deciding just who to award the fossil 
to. Obviously the perpetual podium contenders came up, Canada for 
tarring Rio+20 by cutting out funding, commitments and so much more. The 
United States and Japan, for weilding the literal and metaphorical 
delete button, cutting up the text like a ribbon, and the other Big Oil 
states for weakening language on subsidies and trying their best to cut 
the climate out of Rio. But for some reason we just didn’t feel like 
that was doing it justice, too many people were getting off the hook.

The outcome so far in Rio is an epic failure. Yet all governments have 
applauded it, as if selling out the planet and people were a grand 
success.

This is NOT the future we want, if anything this is the future that big 
polluters have bought.

With this text Rio+20 is turning back the clock on sustainable 
development. As nations hide behind economic uncertainty, they continue 
to give upwards of trillion dollars a year to the fossil fuel industry - 
yet here in Rio they’ve all come up with empty pockets. The first step 
is to turn that trillion green and make it work for the people and the 
planet, and like I said, that's just the first step. There is still 
miles to go on oceans, the sustainable development goals, or even having 
the ambition to build a pathway to just, sustainable future.

Because every country has applauded this document, and no country has 
had the guts to step up and be a champion for the people and the planet, 
this fossil is for every single nation here, and for all the world 
leaders beginning to arrive for what has become a glorified photo op to 
sign a declaration of destruction and a plan for pollution.

There are 3 days left here in Rio, and without a change this summit 
will go down in history as more than simply a failure, and those leaders 
who sign off on its demise will be known as the architects of 
destruction. So as we hand out this, the biggest fossil yet, Heads of 
State and their representatives need to remember one thing: the whole 
world is watching, the planet is burning, and they are holding matches."

G77 earn Fossil of the Day as they oppose language to foster civil society participation

Today's first place fossil goes to Algeria!

Algeria on behalf of the group of G77 was awarded the third ever Rio Fossil of the Day today. Moves to oppose language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation in implementing sustainable development have earned them the top spot.        

Today’s Rio Fossil was chosen through a vote by representatives of youth networks and hundreds of global NGOs organized in the Climate Action Network CAN.                          

The Fossil presentation text reads as follows:

“Algeria is receiving the fossil on behalf on G77 for opposing language in relation to effective civil society engagement and participation to implement sustainable development. 20 years ago, Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration recognised that the best environmental decisions are made  with the involvement of the public. That includes civil society groupings such as NGOs, women, trade unions, youth and others. We agree that referring to stakeholders in the outcome document should be avoided as some private interest groups, such as big corporations, do more harm than good.

However, in many ways civil society groups are the best allies parties have at the international level, especially developing country parties, whom we often support by providing increased capacity and advocacy efforts. We have a huge range of expertise and experience that adds real value when we are able to participate in decision-making at the local, national and international levels. Our ability to participate also ensures the legitimacy of decision making and helps translates decisions into real world outcomes. This is the only way to genuinely achieve sustainable development. We know that only a very small number of G77 members are resisting language that would help us play our role more effectively. The rest of the G77 should not allow this minority rule."

The Rio Fossil Awards will be presented daily throughout the negotiations highlighting the country or countries who do the least to support progress (or the most to block it) on issues relevant to climate change, such as energy, forests, and the green economy. Fossil of the Day ceremonies take place every day at 18:15, in the corridor leading from the negotiating rooms in Pavillion 3 into the main  crossroads towards the courtyard in the center of RioCentro.

 

 

Region: 

Climate crisis - what crisis?

Most of the world’s leaders will be here in Rio in a few short days to assess (non-)progress in sustainable development and to address the accumulating environmental and social challenges that threaten our well-being, security and even very survival.

Oddly enough though, the one issue that world leaders have said is the most serious environmental crisis facing humanity, with potentially catastrophic impacts on communities and the planet, is almost invisible here. Only 4 paragraphs out of the current 80-page text are devoted specifically to climate change. Even this short text that fails to go beyond earlier commitments is at risk of sinking under the rising tide of ignorance, shortsightedness and abdication of leadership. While it is good that the dangerous gap between what governments have promised to do and their concrete actions is recognized (i.e. that their planned emission cuts will not keep us below 2 or 1.5 degrees C of warming), no commitment is made to address this gap with faster and bigger emission cuts. Of course climate change is intimately linked to many of the other issues addressed, like sustainable energy and green economy, but without a strong climate change section, the message coming from Rio will be that this issue is not a priority for the world right now.
 
Rio+20 offers the world a chance to assess the progress (or lack thereof) made in limiting and reducing global emissions – a promise governments made 20 years ago when signing the Climate Convention in Rio – and to make a clear commitment to make up for lost time with stronger and faster emissions cuts. The details will of course have to be negotiated under the UNFCCC, but a clear commitment from leaders here in Rio could help to put some urgency and focus back in the climate negotiations.
 
If world leaders in perhaps their largest gathering ever will fail to address the greatest threat to humanity, it would be a serious abuse of the trust the world citizens have placed in them, if not an act of sheer cowardice.

 

Related Newsletter : 

Rio+20: The Young Can't Wait

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-s-becker/rio20-the-young-cant-wait_b_1587775.html?utm_hp_ref=world&ir=World

by William S. Becker

It was 20 years ago this month that Severn Suzuki, then 12, gave the speech of her life. As she stood on the podium at the first Earth Summit, Severn's admonition to dignitaries from 178 nations also became the speech of her generation.

The topic was sustainable development. The place was Rio de Janeiro, where heads of state, delegates and negotiators assembled to consider how humankind and the rest of the natural world could co-exist, to the everlasting benefit of both.

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