RIO+20: COUNTRIES ACCELERATE NEGOTIATIONS TO REACH ACCORD ON OUTCOME DOCUMENT

RIO+20: COUNTRIES ACCELERATE NEGOTIATIONS TO REACH ACCORD ON OUTCOME
DOCUMENT
New York, Jun 13 2012 2:05PM
Countries today started the last round of talks to come to an agreement on
the draft outcome document on environmental, economic and social issues at
the heart of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable
Development (Rio+20).

“These last three days are going to be absolutely crucial for diplomats,”
the Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, Brice Lalonde, said in an interview.
“Delegations are going to be working day and night, dividing themselves into
splintered groups to work more thoroughly on each issue, which is something
that they have accepted to do only for the last few days.”

The talks are the third and final session of Rio+20’s Preparatory Committee,
which will continue deliberations until Friday. The Committee’s various
groups will discuss issues such as the management of water, education,
health, sustainable transport, desertification and climate change, among
others.

More than 100 heads of State and government, along with thousands of
parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, Chief Executive Officers and civil
society leaders are expected to attend Rio+20, from 20 to 22 June, to shape
new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity
and environmental protection.

Mr. Lalonde stressed that the groups will help accelerate negotiations on
the outcome document – but warned that this may make it harder for small
delegations with only a few members to follow them.

“This requires a lot of trust to be able to give a kind of mandate to your
group to negotiate on your behalf,” he said.

Mr. Lalonde underlined that despite the world’s current economic and
political uncertainties, countries need to think in the long-term when
negotiating the agreement, as it will be a blueprint for generations to
come.

“We are living in a very difficult crisis, but this conference is about
thinking of the next 20-30 years and not only the crisis,” he said. “We need
to reach a point by which all countries agree to discuss means of
implementation to help developing countries follow a sustainable development
path even though these entail costs.”

During the opening of the Preparatory Committee’s session, the
Secretary-General of Rio+20, Sha Zukang, urged countries to seize the moment
to achieve progress on negotiations.

“We need to look at the big picture,” Mr. Sha told the Preparatory Committee
members. “The whole world is watching and we simply cannot falter.”

Mr. Sha emphasized that the document must reflect the importance of the role
of non-governmental organizations and private enterprises in achieving
sustainable development, as well as the importance of transferring
technology and providing capacity building for developing countries so they
can shift towards a green economy.

“Governments bear responsibility, but they cannot do it alone,” Mr. Sha
said.

The previous round of Rio+20 preparatory talks – focussed on the gathering’s
outcome document – ended in New York in early June, with agreement reached
on more than 20 per cent of the document, with many additional paragraphs
close to agreement.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that there is still much work ahead,
but foundations are in place for agreement on the remainder of the
negotiating text that is expected to become the outcome of the conference.

“I expect the negotiators to accomplish this in the days before ministers
and world leaders arrive in Rio. Leaders will then act to resolve all
outstanding issues,” he said in a press conference last week. “Their job is
to achieve renewed political commitment for sustainable development. We
aspire to nothing less than a global movement for generational change.”

Rio+20 follows on from the Earth Summit in 1992, also held in Rio de
Janeiro, during which countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink
economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection.
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