World Environment Day helps generate Rio momentum

June 5, 2012

Important talks loom ahead on sustainable development and green economy

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Thousands from around the world will try to bring about global change in Rio later this month. Photo: iStock

June 5, World Environment Day, falls just a fortnight ahead of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro from June 20 to 22. In anticipation of Rio+20, a final round of informal negotiations was held from May 29 June 2 in New York City. This latest round was added weeks earlier to provide negotiators with an opportunity to iron out differences prior to the resumption of talks as part of the Third Preparatory Committee meeting in Rio, to be held from June 13 to 15 just ahead of the high-level Conference.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged government action on seven key areas to be highlighted at Rio+20: help generate decent jobs; advance food security and sustainable agriculture with a push for zero hunger; enhance support for universal access to sustainable energy; endorse action on universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation; provide guidance on sustainable use, management and conservation of oceans; build institutions to support sustainable development at all levels; and advance a process of defining Sustainable Development goals.

The development of Sustainable Development Goals is a particularly key negotiating point for the main outcome document of Rio+20, as this would entail a set of benchmarks to guide countries in achieving targeted outcomes within a specific time period.

"Sustainable Development Goals would give concrete expression to renewed high-level political commitment for sustainable development," claims Ban.

Rio+20 will also address are the types of international institutions that are needed to promote sustainable development. Business and civil society organisations are expected to launch actions that will make measurable differences, leading to greater prosperity and health, while securing the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

"The Rio+20 outcome needs to produce a strong institutional architecture," says UN General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. "This architecture must promote a better integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environment protection. It must also address new and emerging issues, review the sustainability of progress achieved, and monitor the implementation of the commitment."

"Regional processes are similar to global processes, and nothing proves this better than the fact that the REC Strategy for 2011-15 defines two main directions of work: governance for sustainability and green economy, both of which are major themes of the Rio+20 Conference.

Our international organisation aims to actively contribute to the UN Conference. The REC will host a unique side event, "Towards and Beyond Rio+20: Sustainable Development Delivery at the Regional Level", to explore the possibilities of translating global policies into regional implementation, particularly in light of expected institutional framework reforms for sustainable development. We also plan to announce education and capacity-building commitments related to two of our flagship programmes, the Green Pack and the Sustainable Development Academy. Furthermore, REC experts are also invited to contribute to other side events.

Last but not least, the REC team will also collect on-the-spot information and share it with the whole REC office network - covering 17 countries - in the form of an e-learning day to disseminate lessons learned during Rio+20 and the back-to-back conferences."

REC Exectutive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert