I am at Rio +20, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
From today, June 20th to June 22nd 2012 government officials, policymakers, NGO’s, academics, and members of civil society are gathering at what should be the world’s most significant global forum to renew their political commitment to sustainable development, establish and reassess frameworks for a ‘green economy’ and assess the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development.
I am not holding my breath.
Many world leaders, including President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, are not here. There is a lack of leadership, and political will to address the most pressing issues of our time. As Secretary General Ban-ki- Moon said in his opening statement at the conference today, “Since [the 1992 Earth Summit] progress has been too slow — we have not gone far enough down the road… the world is waiting to see if words will translate into action.”
I am reminded of my own experience of attending the Earth Summit twenty years ago.
The Earth Summit was a historic UN event, unprecedented in size, and scope of environmental concerns. Two landmark legally binding agreements opened for signature, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which led to the Kyoto Protocol. To this day, the Kyoto Protocol remains the only legally binding international instrument which requires developed countries to commit to CO2 emission reductions (the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012). The conference also produced Agenda 21, a blueprint for sustainable development.
The 1992 Earth Summit was three weeks of consistent close negotiations. Rio+20 is three days long.
Many among us here are wondering: why have world leaders given up on our future?