The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development was the biggest United Nations conference ever, but it may be one of the biggest duds. It produced no major agreements — just a vaguely worded declaration that has been widely derided.
More than 45,000 people registered for the event in Rio de Janeiro, but diplomats couldn’t even agree about the meeting’s objective until 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday, just before heads of state and other high-level delegates started arriving in Rio.
They finally agreed to a long-winded declaration about alleviating poverty and leaving the planet livable for future generations. It was more platitudes than anything else, which sparked anger and disappointment.
Friday, on the final day of the conference, former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres didn’t even try to hide his contempt as he addressed the conference’s secretary general, Sha Zukang, at a news conference.
“One thousand five hundred CEOs from 60 nations, global NGOs from all over the world, have come to your conference and committed to action,” he said. “Those who have failed you, Mr. Sha, are the governments. Those are the ones that have failed you, sir.”