By John Hontelez - FSC Chief Advocay Officer
Tuesday 14.00 hours Rio time: This morning the Brazilian government presented a final text without any outstanding issues. In a plenary meeting of the negotiators the draft was adopted by acclamation, and will now go to the Rio+20 Conference, starting tomorrow, for approval. The comments that several delegations made showed that many were not happy with the final result, but apparently all accepted that further negotiations were not possible.
The comments showed that some issues were particularly hard to swallow. Several developing countries are disappointed that the developed countries did not make concrete commitments for new and additional resources to support sustainable development policy in the South, regarding poverty eradication as well as greening economies. Others felt the decisions on the strengthening of UNEP were too weak and provisional. While all welcomed the decision to start negotiating Sustainable Development Goals, some were disappointed that there was no decision which issues these goals should focus on.
From the FSC point of view, the result is clearly insufficient .This conference should have come with clear agreements of what triggers the greening of the economies of the world, in order to reduce its total impact on the planet, which is already beyond sustainable levels. That should have had clear commitments and practical agreements on how to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns, on how to remove subsidies that promote inefficient use of resources, on how to protect and use natural resources efficiently and in a socially responsible manner.
The text completely ignores the enormous potential public authorities have as consumers to trigger innovation, mainstream sustainable production and give the right example to private consumers. No word indeed about public procurement. It also does not refer to private initiatives that help to focus on sustainable production and consumption, such as forest certification.
It is not very likely that the Rio+20 outcome will have the same impact the first Rio conference had: Agenda 21, the three Rio Conventions and the Rio Principles were unique. Their implementation has made a huge difference in the world, not only through governmental action, but also through initiatives of civil society and business (including the Forest Stewardship Council initiative). This all has certainly slowed down the increase of unsustainable resource use and pressures on ecosystems, but not managed to turn the trend towards decreases. Rio+20 should have analysed the reasons why, and decide on additional steps to do so.
The Rio+20 declaration itself is insufficient, but in the slipstream a lot of good practices and ideas have been presented and discussed. Individual governments, business and civil society organisations have taken powerful measures, have a rich menu of further initiatives to take, existing practices to mainstream. FSC is part of this, and will do its best to increase its impact on the forest sector, promoting socially and environmentally sound ways to combine conservation and use.