Thursday, 21 June 2012
Tuesday, 14.00 Rio time.
This morning, the Brazilian Government presented a final text of the Rio+20 declaration without any outstanding issues. In a plenary meeting of the negotiators, the draft was adopted and will now go to the Rio+20 Conference for approval. Several delegations made comments that showed they were not happy with the final result, but all accepted that further negotiations were not possible.
Some issues were particularly hard to swallow. Several developing countries are disappointed that developed countries did not commit to new and additional resources to support sustainable development policy in the South, with regard to poverty eradication as well as green economies. Others felt the decisions on strengthening the UNEP were too weak and provisional. And while everyone welcomed the decision to start negotiating Sustainable Development Goals, some were disappointed that there was no decision on which issues these goals should focus.
From the FSC point of view, the result fell short of what is needed. The conference should have produced clear agreements of what triggers the greening of economies, in order to reduce their impact on the planet – already beyond sustainable levels. There should have been clear commitments and practical agreements on how to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns, how to remove subsidies that promote inefficient use of resources, and how to protect and use natural resources efficiently and in a socially responsible manner.
The text completely ignores the enormous potential that public authorities have as consumers to trigger innovation, mainstream sustainable production and set the right example to private consumers. There is no word at all about public procurement. It also fails to refer to private initiatives that help to focus on sustainable production and consumption, such as forest certification.
It is unlikely that the outcomes of Rio+20 will have the same impact as the first Rio conference. 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 FSC initiative). They have certainly slowed the increase in unsustainable resource use and pressures on ecosystems, without managing to turn trends to decreases. Rio+20 should have analysed the reasons why, and decide on additional steps.
The Rio+20 declaration is insufficient, but in its slipstream a lot of good practices and ideas have been presented and discussed. Individual governments, businesses and civil society organizations have taken powerful measures, and have a list of further initiatives to take, and 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 forest conservation and use.