|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Non-Governmental Organizations on ‘Rio + 20’ Preparations
Despite commitments made 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a lack of action by several organizations and Governments highlighted a strong need for the upcoming “Rio + 20” Conference to remobilize stakeholders and build upon the economic, social and environmental pillars, said the Executive Director of Vitae Civilis of Brazil.
At a Headquarters press conference by leading non-governmental organizations to address emerging issues ahead of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rubens Harry Born said the expectation for the summit was for it to enjoy international political involvement at the highest level and to bridge the implementation gap of the 1992 Conference, for which cooperation among Governments, organizations and civil society was needed.
Michael Strauss, Founder and Executive Director of Earth Media, moderated the press conference, which also included Leida Rijnhout, Director of Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED) of Belgium, and Ivana Savić of Child Rights Centre of Belgrade.
Mr. Strauss said the two major themes of the upcoming conference — green economy and international environmental governance — were critical issues among non-governmental organizations. “Soft” issues, such as coherence, were also important, he said, noting that questions existed in relation to the current world governance situation in the face of multiple crises and whether summit momentum could be revived after a perceived “collapse” in Copenhagen.
The concept of green economy, Ms. Rijnhout noted, is “the heart of sustainable development” and should be viewed as a tool to achieve it. However, problems remained as the concept lacked a clear definition, particularly in developing countries, where a focus on renewable technology was perceived by some as a threat or trade barrier. Even in light of discussions which underscored a need for information sharing, technology transfer and financing, the achievement of a green economy could serve as a challenge if it was not viewed in the larger context of sustainable development, she said.
The overall challenges present during the Rio Conference of 1992 remained the same, on top of which new challenges were emerging, Ms. Savić lamented. The core themes of sustainable development — including transport and sustainable production and consumption — greatly impacted the lives of children and youth around the world. As stakeholders in the issue of sustainable development, youth and children, therefore, should be permitted to help meet the challenges. She called for the inclusion of young people in national preparatory committees in the run-up to Rio + 20, and invited young people to push for better governance, citing good inter-agency cooperation and a holistic approach as vital in achieving sustainable development.
In response to a question frequently asked about whether the world could afford a summit right now in light of the global financial crisis, Mr. Strauss said that many Governments believed that the world could not afford to not address the issues. Globalization and trade had sidelined the sustainable development process in the years since the 1992 Conference, and the near collapse of capitalism raised questions about personal security and the effect of unmitigated trade and business. It was now time to readdress and reassess the commitments of Governments and strengthen governance in order to move forward in an equitable way, he said, expressing confidence that non-governmental organizations would be involved in ensuring that Governments moved in the right direction.
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