This past Tuesday, I attended the Global Civil Society Workshop on the Rio+20 “Zero Draft” and Rights for Sustainability. The workshop lasted a little over three hours, with input from various representatives from international NGOs about how best to prepare for the much-anticipated Rio+20 conference in June of this year. It is called “Rio+20” because it is taking place 20 years after a similar meeting occurred in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, sometimes called the Earth Summit, or UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development). Like it sounds, the conference was an eleven-day discussion between heads of state, governments, and NGOs to address how human development could continue, while protecting the environment, natural resources, and local populations.
Most of the 30+ attendees of this week’s workshop were also participating in the January 25-27 Informal Consultation on the Rio+20 Zero Draft also held at the UN.
The purpose of the workshop was to listen to speakers, including Ivonne Yanez of Oilwatch, Juan Hoffmaister of TWN (Third World Network), and Paul Quintos of IBON, discuss the content of the Zero Draft, and strategize how to argue effectively for a rights-based approach. Some major points discussed and debated were:
Who benefits from the Zero Draft, as it is currently written?
Why has language about Nature continually become humanized (ie natural capital or environmental services)?
Were small farmers and indigenous populations consulted in the making of the Draft?
Will equity play a factor in the determinations of the meeting?
Paul Quintos of IBON, the organizer of the workshop, mentioned four major issues he had with the current Draft which generally summarize the group’s perceptions:
1. It does not respond to the gravity and urgency of the economic, social, and ecological crises gripping the world today.
2. It fails to identify the underlying causes of these multiple convergent crises.
3. It repeats many prescriptions that have caused or contributed to unsustainable development.
4. Finally, it challenges civl society to continue engagement.
UN Official Chantal Line Carpentier was present for part of the workshop, and encouraged the group to propose a concrete alternative to the current Zero Draft, if we were unhappy with it as is. We’ll soon find out.
To view the Zero Draft, click here.