• Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Eurostep
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Science (1 hits),

Full Submission

Contribution to the Zero Draft of the outcome Document for Rio2012

The future of the world, its 7 billion people and the generations to come will be determined by the way in which we respond to the significant challenges that confront us. Our current practices are threatening our very existence. The same sense of urgency was expressed 20 years ago at the 1992 Rio conference. Unfortunately, despite the adoption of strong commitments and appropriate plans of action for sustainable development, implementation has been limited. The political will needed from the international community to respond effectively to the urgent challenges identified in 1992 has not been forthcoming. While there have been some important achievements resulting from previous conferences the overall trends are negative.

Human activity has been the major cause of the environmental, social and economic problems that we face. The present challenges cannot be tackled in isolation and responses must be global.

Rio2012 constitutes the best opportunity to give renewed political impetus to putting in place effective measures for working towards effective sustainable development practices. This will require the adoption of comprehensive and binding internationally agreed time bound commitments and strategies. These must build on the agreements reached in 1992 and 2002.

Countries have common but differentiated responsibility for contributing to current unsustainable practices, and for the consequence unsustainable use of the world?s natural resources. This must have implications for responses that are needed. Developed countries must fundamentally change their own development model so as to ensure their economies are sustainable and enable, rather than obstruct, the implementation of sustainable approaches to development of others, not least developing countries. The particular situations of developing countries must be fully recognised and assistance provided in order for them to be able to develop sustainably in full respect of their sovereignty and democratically agreed priorities.

High-­‐income countries must show their willingness and determination to bring about real changes that radically transform the way economic development is envisaged. Emerging countries that are growing quickly and transforming their economies must take on the increased responsibility that this brings for ensuring sustainable practices are at the core of their strategies. Greening the Economy alone will not bring about sustainable development.

Increased liberalisation has shown its limits. In too many instances economic growth has increased inequalities with poorer sections of societies benefiting least. Humandevelopment and environmental protection must be at the core of analysis and actions for sustainable development to be achieved.

Adherence to human rights, the effective promotion of equitable societies, ensuring better regulation of economic and financial activities to ensure conformity with principles of sustainable development, increasing the coherence between the three pillars of sustainable development, protecting the environment and enhancing democratic participation and accountability are key elements for a sustainable world. They should be reflected in the outcome document of Rio2012. Ambitious actions and strengthening the institutional framework for ensuring appropriate implementation and compliance with commitments made must be agreed upon at Rio2012.

1. Introduction

At  the  Rio  Earth  Summit  in  1992  the  international  community  adopted  a  set  of  principles  and  obligations  in   response  to  the  global  challenges  to  pursuing  sustainable  development.  These  addressed  development  and   environmental   protection,   as   well   as   the   need   for   global   responses   to   the   supranational   problems   of   poverty,   social   inequity,   desertification,   global   warming,   loss   of   biodiversity   and   deforestation.   The   Rio   Summit   endorsed   the   principles   of   sustainable   development   including   that   of   common   but   differentiated   responsibilities,  with  a  view  towards  an  equitable  use  of  the  world?s  finite  resources  for  the  benefit  for  all.    

As  the  world  prepares  for  the  2012  United  Nations  Conference  on  Sustainable  Development  (UNCSD)  that   will  mark  the  20th  anniversary  of  the  Earth  Summit  the  need  to  tackle  global  environmental  problems  and   to   put   in   place   a   just   and   sustainable   management   of   the   world?s   resources   has   become   more   urgent   than   ever  before.  Too  many  people,  particularly  people  living  in  poverty  and  vulnerability  do  not  have  access   to  their  basic  rights  because  of  the  disastrous  consequences  of  unsustainable  practices.  While  there  has   been   increased   consciousness   about   the   challenges   facing   the   global   community,   and   some   actions   have   been   taken   to   promote   sustainability,   overall   there   has   been   a   marked   failure   to   implement   the   commitments   made   at   the   Rio   92   Summit   despite   the   recognition   at   that   time   of   the   urgent   need   to   adhere  to  the  principles  adopted  by  the  international  community.    

The   failure   extends   to   the   Johannesburg   Plan   of   Action   of   2002   and   other   UN   Summit   outcomes   related   to   the   social   and   economic   dimensions   of   sustainable   development.   This   includes   the   commitments   of   industrialized   countries   to   provide   the   means   (financial   resources   and   technology   transfer)   to   implement   the   Earth   Summit?s   agreements   that   they   have   failed   to   honour.   Industrialised   countries   have   also   failed   to   provide  the  leadership  needed  to  change  production  and  consumption  patterns,  particularly  in  their  own   countries,  that  are  crucial  for  sustainability  to  be  achieved.  

Human   activity   has   been   the   major   cause   of   environmental   degradation,   climate   change   and   social   disparities,   which   are   threatening   our   very   existence.   Scientific   and   technological   developments   have   brought   unprecedented   benefits   to   large   numbers   of   people,   particularly   in   so ­called   ?advanced   regions?   of   the   world,   but   with   the   consequence  of  unsustainable  ways  of  living.   The   development   path   pursued   by   the   world?s   wealthiest   nations   has   drawn   disproportionately   on   the   planet?s   non ­renewable   natural   resources   and   continues   to   do   so1.   This   responsibility   for   creating   the   current   global   challenges   must   be   fully   understood   and   recognised   and   actions   to   achieve   far ­reaching   transition   must   be   undertaken.   This   requires   radical   and   urgent   transformation   in   current   approaches   to   the   economy   and   to   patterns   of   production   and   consumption   that   are   promoted   towards   a   low   carbon   economy   and   sustainable   lifestyles.    

Rio2012   constitutes   a   major   opportunity   to   give   new   impetus   to   promoting   an   approach   that   can   fulfil   the   principles   of   justice,   equity   and   sustainability.   These   are   fundamental   for   the   future.   The   outcome   of   Rio2012   must   build   on   the   principles   and   commitments   adopted   in   1992   and   2002,   which   constituted   major  progress  in  the  way  in  which  economic  development  should  be  understood.  The  summit  will  take   place  in  a  context  where  successive  crises  illustrate  the  increasing  vulnerabilities  that  we  collectively  face,   largely   resulting   from   the   accumulating   effects   of   past   economic,   financial   and   development   strategies   and   practices.   These   crises   have   a   devastating   impact   on   increasing   numbers   of   people   around   the   world,   particularly   in   poorer   countries   and   communities.   Their   negative   impact   on   strategies   to   promote   sustainable,   just   and   equitable   development   will   grow,   and   be   exacerbated   by   the   interconnections   between  the  different  crises.  Our  collective  ability  to  respond  to  these  challenges  requires  drastic  changes   to  policy  approaches  in  line  with  the  principles  adopted  in  1992.  

The  stated  commitment  and  willingness  of  some  countries  to  make  Rio2012  a  success  is  to  be  welcomed.   However,   acknowledging   the   need   for   radical   changes   in   approaches   to   the   economy   are   fundamental   to   a  successful  outcome.  Our  collective  ability  to  move  towards  a  sustainable  planet  will  only  be  achieved   when   we   address   the   inequalities   that   are   the   source   of   injustice   experienced   by   people   and   communities   in  different  parts  of  the  world.        

 We   believe   that   the   concept   of   Green   Economy,   for   which   there   is   no   common   understanding   and   conceptualization   at   the   global   level,   gives   too   much   emphasis   to   environmental   aspects   of   sustainability,  but  may  fail  to  address  the  equally  critical  questions  of  social  equity,  economic  justice  and   political  inclusion.  It  relies  too  much  on  changes  in  practice  that  are  more  ecologically  sustainable  than  in   the  past,  and  the  use  of  new  technologies  that  contribute  to  this  objective,  but  do  not  address  fundamental   changes   that   will   impact   on   all   aspects   of   our   lives.   Changes   based   only   on   modifications   to   existing   approaches   will   neither   tackle   the   root   causes   of   poverty   nor   imbalances   within   the   current   macroeconomic  system  that  are    central  to  past  unsustainable  practice.    

2. Recognizing  the  principle  of  Common  but  differentiated  responsibilities  and   its  implications  as  a  prerequisite  for  sustainable  development

As   nations   that   enjoy   relative   wealth,   and   which   have   consumed   a   disproportionate   share   of   the   world?s   natural  resources  to  achieve  their  position,  high  income  countries  need  to  demonstrate  their  commitment   to   make   the   far   reaching   changes   needed   to   achieve   global   sustainability.     They   need   to   act   both   towards   their   own   economic,   social   and   ecological   framework,   as   well   as   in   their   interactions   with   the   rest   of   the   world.    

Acknowledging  in  international  agreements  and  practices  the  special  situation  and  needs  of  developing   countries   must   also   be   systematic   in   compliance   with   Principle   11   of   the   1992   Rio   Declaration.   Sustainable   development   standards,   objectives   and   priorities   should   fully   take   into   account   ?the   environmental   and   development  context  to  which  they  apply?.    

Since   the   actions   of   industrialised   nations   have   contributed   most   to   creating   the   global   environmental   problems   we   collectively   face,   they   should   actively   assist   developing   countries   in   mitigating   and   adapting   to   the   adverse   effects   they   now   face,   not   least   to   climate   change   that   is   one   of   the   results.   The   provision   of   adequate   financial   resources   and   facilitating   technology   transfer   (providing   that   the   precautionary   principle   is   fully   recognized   and   applied)   are   urgent   obligations   to   be   taken,   but   by   no   means   the   only   actions  needed.  

Because   of   the   disproportionate   influence   that   high   income   countries   have   on   international   relations,   as   is   increasingly   the   case   for   emerging   economies   too,   and   because   of   the   impact   of   their   policies   on   other   countries?  development,  Policy  Coherence  for  Sustainable  Development  must  be  recognized  as  a  guiding   principle  at  Rio2012  and  appropriate  mechanisms  must  be  put  in  place  to  control  compliance  with  this   principle.    

Putting   in   place   the   actions   needed   to   address   the   threats   to   sustainability   requires   an   analysis,   understanding   and   acknowledgement   of   challenges.   In   preparation   for   Rio+20   every   country,   region   and   the   global   community   as   a   whole   must   update   past   analysis   and   clearly   define   the   problems   we   face   today.    

Taking   the   actions   necessary   to   change   approaches   to   the   economy,   and   to   put   in   place   effective   mechanisms   for   the   sustainable   management   of   natural   capital   and   resources   will   inevitably   impact   on   economic  actors.  The  Green  Economy  will  create  new  ?green  jobs?  but  will  also  destroy  ?brown  jobs?.  Thus,   during  the  transformation  process  towards  the  Green  Economy  some  individuals,  groups,  communities  and   countries   will   lose2   whereas   others   will   win.   This   has   to   be   addressed   by   identifying   those   affected,   quantifying   their   losses   and   benefits   against   a   business   as   usual   scenario   and   creating   compensation   mechanisms.  

3. The  limits  of  the  Green  Economy    

Tackling  inequities  is  central  to  Sustainable  Development  

International   definitions   of   sustainable   development,   to   which   the   international   community   subscribes3,   are   rooted   in   the   Brundtland   Commissions   original   definition   of   sustainable   development   namely   ?development   that   meets   the   needs   of   the   present   without   compromising   the   ability   of   future   generations   to  meet  their  own  needs?.  In  this  perspective,  sustainable  development  is  about  improving  the  well  being   of   both   present   and   future   generations,   which   in   turn   is   concerned   with   social,   economic   and   inter ­ generational  justice.    

Eradicating   poverty,   diminishing   inequalities,   striving   for   more   inclusive   and   just   society,   an   adherence   and   respect   for   the   environment   and   ensuring   accountability   should   be   core   pillars   and   goals   of   any   sustainable  development  strategy4.    This  requires  the  effective  representation  of  developing  countries  in   international  fora.  It  also  requires  increased  participation  by  citizens,  civil  society  organisations  and  other   stakeholders  at  all  stages  of  public  policy  formulation  and  implementation   ?  be  it  local,  national  regional  or   international.      A  transformation  is  needed  in  the  way  we  design  and  implement  policies  as  well  as  in  the   way   we   do   business;   systematic   evaluation   of   long   term   versus   short   costs   and   gains,   based   on   sustainable   development   principles   and   objectives,   should   be   undertaken   and   transparency   ensured   by   making   the   results  available  to  stakeholders  and  concerned  citizens.    

Transforming  economies  so  that  they  draw  less  on  finite  natural  resources  and  utilize  increased  proportions   of   renewable   resources   is   an   important   aspect   of   any   strategy   for   achieving   sustainable   development.   A   ?Green?   economy   less   dependant   on   natural   resources   will   continue   to   promote   inequity   unless   other   fundamental  changes  are  also  made.  Delinking  can  even  exacerbate  inequalities  if  ownership  and  control  of   new   technologies   remain   in   the   hands   of   existing   dominant   economic   actors.   Broader   approaches   are   needed   that   ensure   sustainability,   and   in   which   social   dimensions   of   the   economy,   and   the   right   to   development   are   explicitly   recognized5   and   addressed.   This   will   promote   a   balance   between   human   development   and   environmental   responsibility   as   equal   and   interdependent   pillars   of   sustainable   development.   Furthermore,   it   necessitates   acknowledging   that   actions   taken   within   national   boundaries   can  cause  environmental,  social  and  economic  impacts  beyond  national  jurisdictions,  requiring  cooperation   in  the  development  of  international  law  that  allows  for  independent  judicial  arbitration  in  such  cases6.      

  Strategies   to   achieve   Sustainable   development   must   go   beyond   resource   efficiency   and   technological   innovations  

By   analysing   the   example   of   the   EU?s   position   towards   Rio+20   the   general   limits   and   concerns   over   the   concept  of  Green  Economy  can  be  highlighted.     The   idea   of   rethinking   the   conventional   model   of   economic   progress   is   envisaged   by   the   EU7.   This   rethinking   is   primarily   based   on   the   notion   of   a   transformation   to   a   Green   Economy   which   is   closely   linked   to   the   concept   of   efficiency,   as   developed   in   the   Europe   2020   strategy8.     The   EU?s   flagship   initiative   ?A   resource   efficient   Europe?   is   emphasised   by   the   Commission   and   the   Council   as   being   particularly   relevant   for   the   EU?s   position   towards   Rio+20.   While   the   overall   objective   of   this   initiative   of   ?ensuring   a   more   sustainable   use   of   natural   resources?   is   an   important   factor,   and   valuable   proposals   for   policies   and   strategies   such   as   decoupling   natural   resources   use   from   economic   growth   and   phasing   out   environmentally   harmful   subsidies   are   put   forward,   much   emphasis   is   placed   on   technological   innovations.   An   approach   that   relies   too   much   on   technological   innovations,   but   remains   fundamentally   unchanged   will  invariably  fail9.  The  impact  of  technological  innovation  can  be  positive  for  sustainable  development  but   we   must   acknowledge   the   limitations   as   well   as   there   remains   the   potential   for   detrimental   unintended   side.      

Relying  too  heavily  on  the  magic  bullet  of  technological  innovation  to  mitigate  the  consequences  of  current   unsustainable   practices   allows   governments,   the   private   sector   and   citizens   to   believe   that   fundamental   change  is  not  necessary,  and  to  consequently  avoid  taking  responsibility  for  their  unsustainable  practices.  It   also   carries   risks   from   unintended   side   effects   that   trigger   new   challenges   to   the   sustainability   of   the   ecosystem.     These   risks   could   be   magnified   without   adequate   and   rigorous   verification   of   the   potential   impact   of   these   new   technologies,   particularly   where   their   promoters   seek   early   deployment   ahead   of   any   competitors,  so  as  to  maximise  benefits  to  themselves.  Fully  respecting  the  precautionary  principle  should   be  the  absolute  priority.    New  innovations  (i.e  geo ­engineering  techniques,  nano ­technology  or  synthetic   biology)   have   the   potential   to   contribute   to   sustainability,   but   must   be   subject   to   rigorous   systematic   impact   assessments10   that   are   subject   to   independent   external   evaluation,   where   there   is   scientific   uncertainty  and  the  possibility  of  irreversible  damage  (Principle  15  of  the  1992  Rio  declaration).,  

Furthermore,   sustainable   development   is   a   concept   that   goes   beyond   resource   efficiency.   While   recognising  that  the  question  of  efficiency  needs  to  be  addressed  in  any  economic  model,  radical  reforms   are   needed   to   the   current   model   if   the   multi   dimensional   aspects   of   sustainability   are   to   be   properly   addressed.   Reforms   that   deal   with   production   and   consumption   patterns,   social   and   political   rights   as   well   as   economic   practices   towards   more   regulation   and   equitable   redistribution   of   resources   are   needed.    

  Natural  capital  must  be  protected  and  managed  under  different  economic  mechanisms    

The   current   definition   for   the   Green   Economy11   adopted   by   the   EC   and   the   Council   of   the   EU   focuses   on   growth   and   job   creation.   Such   an   approach   does   not   in   itself   tackle   inequity,   essential   to   achieve   sustainable   development,   or   necessarily   result   in   the   eradication   of   poverty.   In   addition,   the   ambition   to   eradicate   poverty   by   investing   in   natural   capital   is   unlikely   to   be   realized   in   an   economic   system   that   prioritizes   monetary   value.   Although   it   is   argued   that   this   provides   the   best   mechanism   for   ensuring   an   efficient   use   of   the   resources,   in   reality   the   emphasis   on   generating   monetary   returns   tends   to   promote   short ­term   gain   rather   than   longer   term   objectives   including   inter ­generational   justice.   Speculative   tendencies   are   inherent   within   current   predominant   economic   approaches   which   can   be   detrimental   to   sustainability,   particularly   as   the   ?natural   capital?   on   which   the   world?s   sustainability   depends   is   seen   as   an   opportunity   to   generate   financial   gain   through   speculation.   Current   economic   approaches   encourage   the   acquisition  of  such  assets  by  private  interests  whose  primary  interest  will  be  in  generating  profit,  and  not  as   an  asset  for  long  term  preservation,  or  sustainability.  Their  true  value  will  be  grossly  misrepresented.    

Natural   capital   is   essentially   the   stock   of   natural   ecosystems   that   yields   the   flow   of   valuable   ecosystem   goods   or   services   into   the   future.   With   this   in   mind,   natural   capital   must   be   maintained   and   managed   under   fundamentally   different   economic   mechanisms   than   those   we   currently   have   in   place.   The   promotion   of   recycling   and   reuse   of   natural   resources   as   a   more   sustainable   approach   for   the   use   of   those   resources   requires   regulatory   intervention.   In   an   economy   that   is   driven   by   growth   and   depends   on   increases  in  production,  the  demand  for  material  input  grows.  

Policy  promoting  the  notion  of  natural  capital  must  serve  to  change  fundamental  behaviours  that  lead  to   the  exploitation  and  degradation  of  natural  capital.  A  sustainable  management  of  natural  capital,  and  the   kind   of   investment   required   for   natural   capital   to   be   utilised   as   a   sustainable   asset   requires   a   regulated,   redistributive  and  resilient  economy  that  serves  to  eradicate  poverty  by  placing  the  principle  of  equity  at  its   core.    

There   is   an   urgent   need   to   revert   to   sustainable   production   and   consumption   patterns,   and   the   limitations   of  the  earth?s  resources  must  be  acknowledged.  The  value  of  natural  capital  must  be  integrated  into  the   economy,   but   not   as   a   disposable   commodity.     This   value,   and   the   quantifiable   costs   associated   with   its   use   should   be   fully   reflected   in   costs   of   production.   This   will   impact   on   patterns   of   production   and   consumption,  and  would  contribute  to  more  sustainable  practices.  

The  Convention  on  biodiversity  signed  at  the  Earth  Summit  must  be  adhered  to  and  strengthened  so  as  to   protect   and   restore   the   genetic   resources   of   our   planet   and   natural   habitats   which   are   crucial   to   human   wellbeing.  A  system  of  governance  is  needed  to  prevent  any  further  irreversible  damage.12    

Natural  capital  is  an  asset  that  belongs  to  everyone,  over  which  a  system  of  democratically  accountable   stewardship   is   entrusted   to   ensure   they   serve   the   interests   of   all,   in   the   present   and   in   the   future.     If   the   concept   of   the   Green   Economy   is   to   be   meaningful   it   must   derive   from   an   approach   that   is   people   centred,   sustains  and  protects  the  ecological  basis  of  our  planet  of  which  we  are  a  part,  and  on  which  we  depend.    

The  current  definition  must  be  broadened  to  one  that  places  the  characteristics  of  a  social  economy13  and   ecological  protection  at  its  core.  

Trade  should  serve  poverty  eradication  and  sustainable  development  

Trade  needs  to  be  fair  and  pursued  through  sustainable  practices.  The  global  trading  system  is  dominated   by   prominent   and   powerful   trading   interests,   who   have   disproportionate   leverage   in   the   setting   of   trade   rules.    In  this  context  the  adoption  of  new  restrictions  promoted  by  major  trading  nations  in  the  name  of   sustainability  raise  concerns  over  their  potential  use  as  additional  conditionality  towards  countries  with  less   leverage  in  the  trading  system.    It  is  already  difficult  for  many  producers  in  developing  countries  to  access   global  markets,  the  promotion  of  sustainable  development  should  not  be  used  to  increase  this  trend  and   constrain   the   development   of   already   poor   countries.   Much   of   the   scepticism   from   developing   countries   regarding   the   Green   Economy   is   based   on   concerns   that   new   restrictions   will   be   inappropriately   used   by   more  powerful  trading  nations  for  trade  protectionist  purposes.  In  particular,  rich  countries  may  use  this  to   justify   unilateral   trade   measures   against   the   products   of   developing   countries,   or   to   impose   product   and   technological   standards   that   impact   on   producers   in   developing   countries.   Trade   should   be   a   supportive   tool   to   processes   of   sustainable   development,   while   avoiding   green   protectionism   between   countries   (as   stated   in   Principle   12   of   the   1992   Rio   Declaration).   For   those   purposes,   trade   agreements   that   organize   global   trade   flows   should   be   revised   and   reshaped   for   the   benefit   of   developing   countries,   including   allowing  developing  countries  more  flexibility  to  support  agro ­ecological  agriculture  in  order  to  reflect  the   principle  of  special  and  differential  treatment  and  ensure  the  right  of  countries  to  regulate  for  the  benefit   of  sustainable  development  objectives.    

4. Equity,   Empowerment,   Human   rights   and   Democratic   Participation   as   central  to  sustainable  development  

The  first  Principle  of  the  Rio  Declaration  on  Environment  and  Development  stated  that  ?human  beings  are   at   the   centre   of   concerns   for   sustainable   development?.     In   this   perspective   promoting   social,   gender,   economic   and   environmental   equity,   the   reduction   of   inequality   and   the   observance   of   human   rights   should   be   the   basis   of   any   development   strategy.   This   requires   the   acknowledgement   of   (disproportionate)   responsibility   for   the   consequences   of   past   and   current   actions   and   practices,   and   a   commitment  to  make  the  changes  necessary  to  ensure  sustainability.  

This   can   only   be   achieved   by   engaging   citizens   in   such   processes   of   change   (Principle   10   of   the   1992   Rio   Declaration),   pursued   with   full   transparency   and   accountability.   Ensuring   access   to   information,   raising   awareness  on  sustainable  development  issues  and  improving  participation  of  citizens  and  stakeholders  in   decision   making   processes   are   key   elements   for   sustainable   development;   a   development   based   on   democratic  ownership  and  accountability.     The  present  major  challenges  will  only  be  overcome  by  bringing  coherence  and  harmony  between  global   sets  of  goals,  actions  and  regulations  with  bottom ­up  approaches  retaining  the  focus  at  the  local  level.  As   these  global  challenges  are  interrelated,  enhancing  coherence  between  policies  must  be  the  overall  priority   at  the  global,  regional  and  local  level.  A  human  rights  based  approach  to  development  priority  should  be   taken  to  addressing  poverty  in  financing  and  development  strategies  with  a  particular  focus  on  women.    

Food  security

    A  challenge  facing  the  world  is  to  feed  9  billion  people  by  2050.  The  majority  of  people  living  in  absolute   poverty  live  on  small  farms.  Yet  small  holder  farmers  are  responsible  for  growing  much  of  the  world?s  food.   Agro ­ecological14  approaches  to  agriculture  have  proven  effective  in  increasing  yields  while  at  the  same   time   acting   to   protect   the   environment.     Efforts   to   ensure   sustainable   development   need   to   include   these   small   farmers.   Recognition   must   be   given   to   the   role   of   women   who   produce   60 ­80   percent   of   food   in   most  developing  countries.    They  are  responsible  for  preparing  food,  and  are  the  primary  caregivers.    

A   woman?s   nutritional   status   is   critical   not   only   to   her   own   health   but   also   to   her   ability   to   maintain   a   secure  livelihood  and  ensure  that  her  children  are  properly  nourished  and  healthy.  Women  therefore  play  a   critical   role   in   tackling   food   and   nutrition   security,   and   ensuring   sustainability.   Food   production   however,   is   not   necessarily   synonymous   with   production   of   nutritious   foods.   As   such   they   have   a   perspective   and   understanding   that   is   crucially   important   for   defining   effective   approaches   that   help   ensure   sustainable   development.   Meeting  increased  demand  for  food  must  primarily  be  about  producing  the  right  type  of  food,  foods  that   contribute  to  dietary  requirements.    


    Access   to   energy   is   fundamental   to   achieving   poverty   eradication   and   is   a   prerequisite   for   social   and   economic   development.   The   huge   potential   in   developing   countries   to   develop   and   rely   on   renewable   energy  is  acknowledged  by  many.    However,  the  choice  of  strategy  towards  harnessing  this  potential  will  be   critical  for  determining  whose  interests  that  are  really  being  served.    

Globally   1.5   billion   people   are   currently   without   access   to   electricity,   the   majority   of   them   living   in   rural   areas.   Achieving   increased   equity   in   access   to   reliable   and   affordable   sources   of   sustainable   energy   is   central  to  reducing  inequalities  and  enabling  people  to  fulfil  their  potential.  There  is  a  predominant  use  of   traditional   biomass   fuels   for   cooking   which   impacts   on   health   and   contributes   to   environmental   damage.  

According   to   forecasts   the   need   for   energy   is   going   to   exponentially   increase   in   the   coming   decades.   For   poverty   to   be   addressed   and   sustainable   development   ensured,   prioritization   needs   to   be   given   to   providing   access   to   renewable   energy   through   small   scale   decentralized   energy   projects.   There   is   a   particular  need  for  this  in  many  least  developed  countries.  Giving  undue  prominence  to  large  scale  energy   programmes   for   which   the   primary   objective   is   not   the   provision   of   access   to   the   majority   must   treated   with   caution.   In   addition,   the   sustainability   of   controversial   energy  generating   schemes   such   as   biofuel,   nuclear  energy  or  hydroelectric  must  be  assessed  not  only  on  their  projected  carbon  emissions,  but  also   on  their  social,  economic  and  ecological  impacts  in  both  the  short  and  long  term.    

Furthermore,   to   ensure   that   energy   access   will   benefit   people   living   in   poverty   the   particular   social,   economic  and  environmental  situations  in  those  countries  should  be  assessed  and  taken  into  account  in   establishing  strategies  and  targets.    The  rights  of  communities  must  also  be  fully  respected.     Improving   energy   efficiency   in   industrialised   countries   and   helping   developing   countries   to   achieve   efficient   use   of   natural   resources   is   also   crucial   to   ensure   sustainable   development.   Diversifying   energy   sources  is  important  for  energy  security;  over  relying  on  one  source  of  energy  for  power  generation  such  as   hydropower   or   imported   fossil   fuel   cannot   ensure   sustainable   access   to   energy.  There   is   an   urgent   need   to   scale   up   investments   in   small   scale   decentralised   energy   projects,   renewable   energy   and   energy   efficiency  practices.    

Policy   coherence   for   sustainable   development   is   also   an   important   concept   to   take   into   account   and   comply   with   in   this   context;   countries?   energy   needs   and   their   strategy   for   ensuring   sustainable   energy   supplies  must  not  be  pursued  in  conflict  with  the  needs  of  people  in  developing  countries15.    

Social  protection  and  justice

  Social   protection   is   recognised   as   an   aspect   of   the   right   to   livelihood   and   social   security.   In   a   number   of   developing   countries   social   assurance   schemes   are   being   put   in   place,   mostly   for   formal   sector   employees.    

In   most   countries   the   majority   of   people   remain   outside   the   system,   including   those   living   in   poverty,   with   the   least   security   and   most   vulnerable.   The   promotion   of   decent   work   is   an   important   part   of   the   social   protection   agenda   and   encompasses   a   broad   set   of   issues,   but   for   most   developing   countries   additional   provisions  will  need  to  be  put  in  place  for  all  parts  of  society  to  be  covered.    

In  the  context  of  the  preparations  for  Rio+20  social  protection  and  equity  can  be  seen  as  being  critical  for   developing   a   Green   Economy.   A   sustainable   Economy   cannot   be   achieved   without   involving   all   parts   of   a   society,  without  empowering  people,  without  educating  people,  without  social  justice  and  people  subject   to  living  in  poverty.  Social  protection  needs  to  be  extended  to  all  as  a  right,  and  not  just  to  those  in  formal   employment.    The  provision  of  universal  social  protection  is  a  role  in  which  the  international  community  as   a  whole  must  take  responsibility.      

5. Going   beyond   GDP   is   imperative   to   correctly   measure   sustainable   development   The   domination   of   GDP   per   capita   as   a   principal   indicator   of   a   country?s   development   is   inadequate   for   assessing   the   well   being   of   its   population.   New   indicators   that   go   beyond   GDP   need   to   be   used   in   order   to  

These   indicators   should   fully   take   account   of   and   integrate   the   three   dimension   of   sustainable   development.   Well   being   should   be   redefined   and   human  and  environmental  health  in  addition  to  the  quality  of  life  and  social  equity  should   be   measured.   Further,   while   it   is   important   to   widen   the   concept   of   well ­being   beyond   income,   the   sustainability  component  needs  to  be  measured  as  depletion  (or  renewable  use)  of  ?assets?.    While  this  is   not  an  easy  task,  Science  is  well  advanced  in  the  case  of  the  atmospheric  ?space?  and  its  depletion  by  gas   emissions   and   in   the   case   of   fisheries.   Unsustainable   production   and   consumption   patterns   can   be   identified  and  changes  in  them  can  be  measured.    

These  should  also  build  on  already  existing  initiatives  such  as  the  Human  Development  Index,  the  Better   life  Index,  the  Basic  Capabilities  Index,  the  Stiglitz  commission?s  proposals  or  the  International  System  for   integrated  Environmental  and  Economic  Accounting  (SEEA),  amongst  others.    

6. Financing  for  sustainable  development  

Despite   the   world?s   current   financial   challenges   significant   levels   of   financing   will   be   required   from   advanced  countries  for  the  implementation  of  strategies  to  achieve  effective  approaches  to  sustainability.    

The   private   sector   has   an   important   role   to   play   in   this   respect,   within   the   context   of   a   regulated   framework,  but  this  cannot  be  a  substitute  for  public  financing.      

Commitment   to   achieve   the   development   aid   target   of   0.7%   of   GDP   by   2015   must   be   renewed;   such   promises   need   to   be   kept   for   developed   countries   to   retain   their   credibility.   The   commitment   for   new   and  additional  finance  towards  tackling  climate  change  also  needs  to  be  recognised  within  this  context.    

New   forms   of   innovative   financing   that   have   been   under   discussion   for   more   than   a   decade   can   also   be   an   important  contribution  towards  the  implementation  of  sustainable  development  strategies.   The  proposal   for   a   financial   transaction   tax   (FTT)   should   be   taken   forward,   not   only   as   a   mechanism   to   generate   financial  resources  but  also  as  one  means  to  reduce  instabilities  from  speculation.    

Ultimately  the  ability  to  effectively  utilize  much  of  these  financial  resources  will  rely  on  mechanisms  that   enable  collective  action  to  be  pursued  by  the  international  community  as  a  whole.  These  mechanisms  need   to   operate   with   integrity   and   in   accordance   with   principles   underlying   the   concept   of   sustainable   development.

Taxation   systems   need   to   be   revised   so   that   they   promote   sustainability.   Taxation   has   an   important   redistributive  role,  and  this  needs  to  be  encouraged  in  the  outcome  of  the  Rio  2012  conference.    It  can  also   encourage  sustainability  by  penalising  unsustainable  practices  and  encouraging  goods  ones.    These  systems   must   be   based   on   the   principle   that   polluter   pays,   and   all   subsidies   that   undermine   sustainable   development  must  be  eliminated.  Sustainable  practices  must  also  be  encouraged  while  more  equitable   distribution   of   the   fruits   of   economic   growth   must   be   ensured.   In   developing   countries,   assistance   should   be  provided  to  enable  efficient  tax  systems  to  be  put  in  place.  In  our  current  economic  system  too  often   taxation   schemes   favour   unsustainable   practices   and   contribute   to   increasing   inequalities,   this   must   change.      

11 7. The  Role  of  the  Private  Sector  in  a  Changing  Economic  Paradigm  

Private   sector   actors   are   central   to   economic   activity   ?   as   producers,   service   providers,   and   innovators.  

They  serve  society,  promote  development  and  are  crucially  important  for  enabling  a  sustainable  economy   to   be   realised.   Their   ability   to   perform   these   roles   depends   on   their   viability,   and   on   their   ability   to   generate   financial   returns   on   their   activities.   Through   their   activities   they   contribute   to   the   welfare   of   society,  and  respond  to  consumer  demand.    However,  their  need  to  remain  viable  and  to  generate  financial   returns   does   not   automatically   lead   them   to   pursue   sustainable   practices.   Recognition   of   the   need   for   a   regulatory  framework  is  well  established.  The  role  of  the  private  sector  in  promoting  sustainable  economies   requires  appropriate  regulatory  frameworks  

Distinctions  also  need  to  be  made  between  different  actors  within  the  private  sector  and  the  roles  that  they   play.     The   role   that   small   local   enterprises   play   within   their   local   community   is   very   different   from   that   of   a   transnational   corporation   with   their   leverage   over   markets,   products,   consumption   patterns,   trade   rules,   and  indeed  decisions  taken  by  governments.    Between  these  two  extremes  lie  many  variations.  

Too   often   regulatory   regimes   in   many   countries   are   inadequate   ?   in   terms   of   environmental,   social   and   financial  policies.  In  addition  tax  systems  are  often  not  in  place,  ineffective,  and/or  distorted  This  enables   private   sector   interests   to   be   pursued,   which   are   intrinsically   driven   by   profit   making,   and   which   are   not   necessary   compatible   with   sustainable   approaches,   or   with   promoting   social   justice.   Some   donor   policies   and   current   economic   approaches   tend   to   re ­enforce   this   situation,   in   part   to   encourage   foreign   investment.  

For   the   contribution   of   the   private   sector   towards   sustainable   development   to   be   maximised   there   is   a   need  for  adequate  regulatory  mechanisms  to  be  in  place.    A  regulatory  framework  must  ensure  that  private   interests   respect   environmental   sustainability.   Modifying   regulations   so   as   to   provide   incentives   that   merely   ?encourage   private   green   investments?   without   attaching   obligations   to   private   sector?s   activities   (European   Commission?s   communication)   will   not   be   enough.   A   proper   assessment   of   human   rights   and   environmental   implications   of   present   and   future   activities   should   be   systematically   undertaken,   with   appropriate   actions   being   available   to   counter   adverse   results.   In   addition,   solutions   such   as   cap ­and ­ trade  regulations  across  all  developed  countries  have  yet  to  prove  their  validity  and  the  first  steps  in  that   direction  have  been  met  with  financial  speculation  and  abuse  of  the  system  leading  to  windfall  profits  for   private  agents.    

Applying   the   UN   principles   of   Corporate   Social   Responsibility,   establishing   independent   control   mechanisms   and   ensuring   democratic   accountability   as   well   as   implementing   the   UN   "Protect,   Respect   and   Remedy"   Framework   for   business   and   human   rights   should   be   made   mandatory   at   Rio2012.   There   is   also   a   need   to   establish   binding   country   by   country   financial   reporting   as   an   international   standard   applying   to   all   multinational   companies,   to   adopt   automatic,   multilateral   information   exchanges   which   take   account   of   the   needs   of   developing   countries,   and   sanctions   should   be   imposed   on   countries   that   practise  banking  secrecy  and  make  transactions  to  such  jurisdictions.  

Sustainability   will   only   be   possible   through   promoting   social   and   economic   justice   for   all,   and   where   public   rights   are   given   preference   over   corporate   privileges.   The   rights   of   indigenous   peoples   require   special   attention,   and   the   importance   of   their   participation   in   debates   and   actions   for   sustainable   development   should  be  fully  recognized  and  promoted,  as  stated  in  Principle  22  of  the  Rio92  Declaration  on  Environment   and  Development.    

8. The  institutional  Framework  for  Sustainable  Development  

The  international  community  must  identity  goals,  targets  and  indicators  for  sustainable  development  that   are   based   on   and   incorporate   the   three   dimensions   of   sustainability.   It   must   also   recognise   the   importance   of  achieving  the  Millennium  Development  Goals  (MDGs)  as  an  important  essential  step  towards  achieving   sustainable  development.  The  conference  must  recall  the  commitment  to  the  achievement  of  the  MDGs   by   2015.   New   sets   of   commitments   and   goals   for   sustainable   development   should   not   be   used   as   a   substitute  for  the  MDGs  but  build  on  them  and  re ­enforce  the  potential  for  their  achievement.   Reforms   must   be   adopted   that   strengthen   the   international   institutional   framework   so   as   to   ensure   the   implementation   of   commitments   by   the   international   community.   The   global   mechanism   overseeing   the   implementation  of  sustainable  development  objectives  should  be  strengthened  by  increasing  the  scope  of   its   mandate   and   enhancing   its   capacity   to   ensure   compliance   with   international   commitments   made   on   sustainable  development.  Such   mechanisms  must  be  transparent,  accountable  and  adhere  to  democratic   principles.  They  must  encompass  in  a  coherent  manner  the  three  dimensions  of  sustainable  development   and  not  favour  one  at  the  detriment  of  the  two  others.    

This   could   include   establishing   an   ombudsperson   or   commissioner   to   safeguard   environmental   and   social   conditions   for   present   and   future   generations   both   at   UN   level   and   replicated   nationally.   At   national   level,   ensuring   better   coherence   and   consistency   between   different   policy   portfolios   such   as   trade,   environment,   economy,   finance,   development   or   social   cohesion   is   a   priority.   The   same   applies   at   international   level,   linkages   between   institutions   or   organisations   working   on   trade,   development,   finance  or  environment  must  be  enhanced  and  an  integrated,  consultative  and  participatory  approach  to   sustainable  development  must  be  adhered  to.  The  participation  of  all  stakeholders  should  be  encouraged   and  ensured  in  all  relevant  fora  and  at  every  level.      

9. Conclusions  

The  recent  crises  have  shown  the  limits  of  our  economic  model,  one  that  has  been  promoted  for  decades   by   the   world?s   most   powerful   nations.   Despite   increased   trade   and   economic   growth,   inequalities   between   and  within  nations  have  not  diminished  but  on  the  contrary  have  increased17.    

Increased   liberalisation   will   not   deliver   development,   understood   as   a   multidimensional   concept   encompassing   economic,   environmental   and   social   progress,   and   even   less   sustainable   development,   a   development   where   the   notion   of   intergenerational   equity   determines   the   way   policies   are   shaped   and   implemented.    

On   the   contrary   this   model   has   led   to   increased   instability,   the   emergence   of   multiple   crises   in   part   resulting  from  an  inadequate  global  regulatory  framework,  an  over  emphasis  on  personal  accumulation  of   wealth   and   inequitable   global   mechanisms,   environmental   degradation   and   increasing   social   inequalities.   Our  development  model  can  only  be  sustainable  by  undertaking  profound  radical  changes  in  the  way  we   envisage   economic   development.   The   concept   of   the   Green   Economy   is   interesting   through   an   environmental   and   economic   point   of   view   but   it   is   too   restrictive;   it   does   not   encompass   the   level   of   change   needed   for   sustainable   development   nor   does   it   sufficiently   integrate   the   social   dimension   of   sustainable  development.    

The  structural  imbalances  in  the  global  economic  system  that  perpetuate  inequalities  and  trap  millions  in   cycles   of   poverty   must   be   addressed.   Redistributing   power   and   putting   in   place   democratically   managed   control  and  regulatory  mechanisms  that  seek  to  enhance  and  protect  public  rights  as  opposed  to  corporate   privileges  are  of  crucial  importance.      

The   purpose   of   policy   should   be   to   put   people   at   the   centre   of   any   strategy   and   to   ensure   social,   economic   and   environmental   security.   Sustainable   development   needs   a   proper   balance   between   the   three   pillars   of   sustainable   development   and   promoting   equity.   This   will   not   only   address   poverty   and   contribute   to   economic   development   but   has   the   potential   to   reduce   conflict   and   foster   increased   tolerance.   Sustainable   development   in   all   its   manifestation   must   be   central.   A   nation?s   policies   should   promote   sustainable   development  without  undermining  that  of  other  nations.    

Rio2012   is   an   important   opportunity   to   build   on   past   commitments   and   secure   their   implementation.   Governments  need  to  recognise  the  urgent  need  to  effectively  address  the  challenges  of  past  and  present   unsustainable   practices   and   to   commit   to   the   far   reaching   changes   that   are   necessary   to   place   human   development  and  environmental  protection  at  the  core  of  international  relations  and  of  the  development   model.    

Contributions   from   stakeholders   should   be   taken   fully   into   consideration   to   ensure   a   good   outcome   at   Rio2012.  Unsustainable  practices  affect  all  of  us  and  enhancing  citizens?  and  stakeholders?  participation  is  a   key  principle  of  sustainable  development  (principle  10).  

Adopting   binding   internationally   agreed   time   bound   commitments   and   strategies   for   their   achievement   must   be   the   ultimate   objective   of   the   Rio2012   conference.   To   achieve   this   requires   the   involvement   of   government   leaders   at   the   highest   level.   Countries   must   be   represented   at   the   level   of   Head   of   State   and/or  Governments  in  order  to  give  the  conference  the  importance  it  deserves.  

  October  2011
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