Peace Child International
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Peace Child International
  • Submission Document: Not available
Keywords: Growth (2 hits),

Full Submission

The UN General Assembly resolution (GA 64/236) that set up the Rio 2012 Summit asks that the chosen themes ?be discussed and refined during the preparatory process.? Having struggled to generate debate, excitement and interest in the Rio+20 themes, I would urge the Bureau to refine the way you articulate the themes, thus:

1. Green Economy: Re-phrase it thus: ?How to achieve a rapid, comprehensive, just transition from the current unsustainable Brown Economy to a Green, fair and sustainable Economy that powerfully supports and accelerates poverty eradication.?

2. Institutional Framework: No one has any idea what this means: so, please, re-phrase it thus: ?Propose a Framework of Institutions for governance ? locally, nationally and internationally ? that offer the financial and juridicial enforcement mechanisms which will ensure that all development conserves essential eco-system services for future generations, repairs current environmental damage and destruction ? and requires regular reporting of progress to international authorities.?

The UN?s Rio 2012 Summit addresses the most significant challenge that humanity has faced since the dawn of the Industrial Age: it has to come to terms with the fact that the era of prosperity and Growth based on cheap, fossil fuel energy is drawing to a close. Therefore, we must, perforce, transition, quickly and enthusiastically, to the era of Green, Renewably fuelled economies. ?Green Economy NOW!?

- was the rallying call that our West African youth Prepcom for Rio+20 came up with. It is short ? makes the point. It is said that people don?t understand what is meant by a ?Green Economy? ? some mischievous G-77 representatives try to persuade us that is a plot by Western Bankers to impose additional conditionalities on their trade: that?s nonsense. It should be seen for what it is ? the economic basis of the society towards which we are all headed ? in stark contrast from the Brown Economy from which we are being forced, by the discipline of finite resources, to depart.

Green Economy

The Green Economy must be delivered by the simple mechanism of governments making it more expensive, through tax and subsidy regimes, to consume in the Brown Economy, and cheaper, and easier to consume in the Green Economy. Only governments can levy these taxes, and offer these subsidies. That?s why, we have urged young activists, working on Rio+20, to focus their advocacy on National Parliaments, rather than UN agencies.

Each government must come to Rio with its own Road Map to a Green Economy ? or a ?National Green Economy Transition Plan.? The Rio 2012 Summit should launch a prize quest to honour the government that develops the most aspirational, most comprehensive and most rapid transition to a 100% zero carbon, zero fossil fuel economy. Let it become a race ? and let young people be its major drivers: for the youth growing up in the country that transitions most rapidly to a Green Economy, will develop the technologies that other countries will need to buy as fossil fuel becomes increasingly expensive and, eventually, harder than ever to find.

At the very least, we recommend that the Rio 2012 Summit gets the agreement of every UN member state government to file their ?National Green Transition Plan? with the UN by ? I suggest - September 2014.

Each National Green Economy Transition Plan will be different: some will focus on the built environment; others will focus on the natural environment and rural areas. The National Plans will include targets and strategies to address the sustainability of both Rural and Urban areas. And there will be some common themes to all Plans. I recommend that the UN lay out some guidelines that every plan should included, like the following:

1. Put Education for Sustainable Lifestyles and the Green Economy at the heart of every school?s assessed curriculum, from primary through tertiary levels. As one youth put it: ?It?s bad enough that governments are not making the transition to a green sustainable economy: it?s worse that they are not educating us ? the generation that will have to make that transition ? with the information about it.? None of the youth we met at the 30+ Youth Prepcoms felt that they had had anything like the kind of detailed education or capacity delivered to them in school or college to prepare them for this ? probably the most important transition that will happen in their lifetimes.

2. Financial Pricing Mechanisms must be clearly laid out ? with suitable transition mechanisms in place for high energy intensive industries. The elimination of harmful subsidies must be timetabled on the Road Map as a goal to be achieved by Rio+25 in 2017.

3. Work must start on the creation of a global electrical grid ? so that electricity can be continuously generated and distributed around the world to where it is needed at all times. Super High Voltage DC transmission holds out the promise of long distance transmission with low power loss. This ? plus more research into electrical storage technologies must take precedence over all other areas of research. Because an economy without energy is a dead economy.

4. A green economy must be a demilitarised, peaceful economy: the UN must return to its founding purpose and work ever harder to set up the regional authorities that will guarantee democracy and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. Peace is an essential pre- condition for development of any sort ? sustainable or otherwise.

5. A Green Economy is also one without corruption: National Green Economy Transition Plans must include new and tougher mechanisms to combat corruption at every level. Our West Africa Youth Prepcom suggested that, as a way of educating youth about corruption ? and embedding in them a culture that combats corruption ? would be to have youth participate in different arenas of governance and have the power to blow the whistle on corruption wherever they find it.

6. Many youth mentioned the need for a Green Economy to be a fair economy with mechanisms to ensure that it meets every member of the human family?s needs, before addressing their greed.

7. The Rio 2012 Summit must announce a commitment by all UN Member States to cease to measure their economic success, or lack of it, by reference to their GDP or GNP. The new measure of economic Growth must incorporate the drawing down of natural capital on the balance sheet ? the numbers of people in employment, the access to fresh water, health care and education ? a new kind of Human Development Index that includes the environmental costs of the lifestyles enjoyed by the citizens of each country.

8. Rio 2012 should also mention the need, eventually, for every member of the human family to start to live within an agreed personal carbon footprint ? and suggest a research programme into personal, rather than national or corporate, carbon footprint trading so that those who wished to exceed their quota could buy additional footprint allowances from those who do not use their?s. That ? or some similar system for a more equitable sharing of the planet?s dwindling resources ? must become a reality by 2050, if not earlier.

9. The UN System must support the call by Island States for a comprehensive transition to a Blue Economy that supports Island lifestyles, protects coral reefs, and ocean eco-systems. Finally, the UN?s publicity machine must work overtime to capture the imagination of the World?s Media and make Rio a watershed moment for today?s youth, and future generations;

Institutional Framework

The United Nations must be more streamlined and genuinely deliver as one for the new challenges the world faces in the 21st Century. The Security Council must be renamed the ?Human Security Council? - and have powers to enforce the protection of individual?s human rights. The Rome Statute must be amended to include the crime of Ecocide to punish those who would do permanent damage to our planet?s fragile environment. The UN Environment Programme must be upgraded, with universal membership to a World Environment Organisation, with a mandate to simplify, cluster and make common purpose from the 500+ MEAs that have been agreed since the first Rio Earth Summit. I recommend the merging of UNEP and UNESCO into a single agency researching the science of sustainability and educating the human family in how to live sustainably within the built and the natural environment. Finally, I urge the setting up of the Trusteeship Council as the UN?s new mechanism for ensuring the stewardship of our planetary home for future generations. The detail for how this should be done must be carefully worked over by UN Member States but it must address the over-arching concern expressed in the Brundtland definition of sustainable development: ?Development ? or Stewardship ? that meets the needs of today?s generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.? There is no more urgent task facing the human family today.
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