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Food for Thought - Earth Summit 2012

Food for Thought Earth Summit 2012 By Felix Dodds "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."Albert Einstein Throughout these two weeks Outreach Issues will be publishing a number of articles from different stakeholders on what they feel a Rio+20 Summit might address. The first one is by Felix Dodds Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum. In February the CSD International Preparatory Meeting was opened with the G77 Chair, the Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahood Abdalhaleem Mohamed telling the meeting: “In 2012, the international community will reach the twenty year mark from the Earth Summit held in 1992 and the ten-year anniversary of WSSD held in Johannesburg in 2002. It will be 40 years after the Stockholm Conference of 1972. The time will be opportune for the international community to thoroughly review and assess the progress achieved since these momentous summits. Guided by the ‘Rio Spirit’, a Rio+20 Summit should provide the necessary political impetus for the range and level of action to bridge the implementation gap. In this context the G77 and China welcomes the offer of the Government of Brazil to host such a Summit in 2012.” In the spirit of Rio during the IPM Stakeholder Forum hosted an informal dinner for 17 governments to discuss the idea of  Summit and what that Summit might address. It gave an opportunity for SF to present the outcomes from the San Sebastian workshop of the previous November. The summary of the discussion there highlighted a number of possible outcomes for a Summit in 2012. These included: To underpin a successful Summit a new deal on funding sustainable development would need to be agreed. To help this the UN Secretary General could set up a High Level Commission or Panel to identify key elements for a Global Green New Deal which would input to the Summit process in 2011. The world has changed a lot since 1992 and even since the 2002 Summit in Johannesburg. The suggestion was that Summit might address key critical issues under the banner of Human, Economic and Environmental ‘In-Security’ – that is, global insecurity over issues such as increased consumption patterns, urban growth, food, water, energy, health, migration, climate, resource availability and economics which are going to impact all countries with increasing frequency. This would enable a review of Agenda 21 and the JPOI could be undertaken through this new lens of Human, Economic and Environmental ‘In-security’. At the UNEP Governing Council also in February a Ministerial Working Group on International Environmental Governance (IEG) was set up with a 2012 horizon. The South African Minister called for the UNEP GMEF in 2010 to adopt a Ministerial Declaration on IEG Principles and Goals. But it isn’t just environmental governance that needs to be looked at but sustainable development governance as well. Maurice Strong in Rio and since has called for sustainable development to be addressed at the highest level. In the past ideas included transforming the trusteeship Council another idea that has been suggested has been that a Sustainable Development Council of the General Assembly  be set up to look at critical and emerging issues. It’s clear that the CSD over the past few years has lost credibility among governments, civil society alike. A strengthening of both the environmental and sustainable development architecture would enable the UN to have the bodies it needs for the twenty first century. Potential products of the summit could include two conventions -- one on access to information, participation and environmental justice (Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration), and one on corporate accountability. What the last year has shown is that voluntary agreements among bankers dont work so why should we believe that they work in the area of the environment. The time is surely here for a proper regulatory framework for companies in the area of environment.  Between Prep Com 2 and 3 for Joberg SF organised a private meeting of 6 multinational companies the key NGOs and the trade unions. As the meeting was under the Chatham House rule i cant say which companies these were but I can say they all supported international regulation and were fed up with their competitors hiding behind voluntary agreements and them not getting any recognition for the work they were doing. In the end we couldn’t move forward because it was felt that the political landscape wasn’t positive. That has changed and a corporate accountability convention would give the general public more confidence tht the environment was beign looked after. Finally Rio+20, Jo’Berg +10 should utilise web 2.0’ learning from the Barrack Obama presidential campaign in the U.S. – it could be used to engage the motivated individuals in the summit and in the delivery of its outcome. Millions of people becoming part of delivering a solutions agenda! Doesn’t that sound like a good Summit
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