Heinrich Boell Foundation
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Heinrich Boell Foundation
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Information (2 hits),

Full Submission

Submission to the 2012 Earth Summit Outcome Document ?Zero Draft? Joint Submission: Heinrich Boell Foundation, Ford Foundation

Recommendation regarding policy coherence among governance institutions: To direct the United Nations system ? particularly the UN Environment Program, the UN Development Program, the UNFCCC and UN WOMEN -- to work with other global governance bodies ? specifically the Group of 20 ? to promote an agenda that integrates the three indispensable elements of sustainable development relating to the natural environment, the economy, and poverty reduction. 

The G20 describes itself as the world?s ?premier forum for our international economic development,? yet its growth frameworks lack an integration of these elements. This has significant implications because the G20 stipulates that its growth frameworks should be implemented and financed by the United Nations and international trade, finance and development institutions. 

---The G20?s ?Seoul Development Consensus? (November 2010) and its growth framework, the ?Development Action Plan? (DAP) would promote public-private partnerships in infrastructure and agriculture, but without core concerns for the environmental, poverty or equity dimension of this approach. 

---In the context of its ?Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth Framework,? the G20 reversed course -- from a coordinated global stimulus in 2008-2009 to a synchronized fiscal consolidation in the advanced countries in 2010-2011. The G20 has been unable to find a less drastic, middle ground that would create desperately needed job and social protection programs in fiscally responsible ways. Nor has it moved ahead on its pledges to remove fossil fuel subsidies.

If its orientation and growth frameworks are not revamped, the G20 could work at cross-purposes with the 2012 Earth Summit by increasing, rather than help close, the wide gap between the aspirations and commitments to sustainable development and the implementation performance of nations and institutions. 

However, such re-orientation can only occur if the G20 becomes an open, transparent and accountable body. At present, in contravention of Rio Principles (e.g., Principle 10 on Public Participation; Principle 20 on the role of women in sustainable development), the G20 operates behind closed doors, excluding 173 UN member countries and civil society. 

The 2012 G20 Summit in Mexico will occur in the same month as the Earth Summit 2012. The lack of integration between these two global processes is highly problematic for crafting coordinated responses to the urgent development challenges we face at this time.

In order to integrate the three indispensable elements of sustainable development relating to the natural environment, the economy, and poverty reduction in the G20 agenda, we recommend that the UN work with the G20 to achieve the following outcomes:

G20 Accountability and Transparency 

· G20 as an advisory body on development. Rather than issuing policy mandates and research work for international trade, finance and development institutions, as is its practice currently, the G20 should issue recommendations for consideration by the governance bodies of these institutions.

· Participation and Consultation. The G20 excludes 173 UN member countries. Therefore, it should:

a) establish consultative mechanisms to enhance its accountability to the United Nations;

b) appoint the UN Secretary-General as a full member (rather than observer) of the G20;

c) allow for rotating participation of country representatives from Africa, LDCs and SIDS as participants in G20 fora and summits, and allow for the participation of several more countries from these groups as observers; 

d) create mechanisms that enable it to relate to civil society in ways that are analogous to the G20?s outreach mechanisms for consulting with transnational corporations; 

e) engage the UN in all aspects, or ?pillars,? of its agenda.

· Transparency. With regard to Summits, Ministerials, working and expert groups, the G20 should disclose the meeting members, their agendas, papers commissioned, and minutes of meetings in a timely and proactive manner, including on publicly accessible websites.

· Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. This Principle, signed at the first Earth Summit in 1992, asserts that access to Information, public participation and access to justice (referred to as ?environmental access rights?) are critical for sustainable development. The G20 must recognize the access rights of Information and the right to consultation regarding development decisions. This should be reflected in the G20?s processes and in both of its growth frameworks.

· Principle 20 of the Rio Declaration. The G20 has not evinced a particular concern for equality and human rights. It should acknowledge that the full and effective participation of women, indigenous peoples and marginalized groups in all aspects of sustainable development is essential for inclusive economic growth and for broad political empowerment. 

Role of the G20, particularly in development finance. The United Nations should ensure that:

· To the extent that new sources of finance are generated at the international level, their disposition should be determined by development finance institutions, and their shareholders in line with country-led and designed programs and priorities developed in a fully participatory process involving all relevant stakeholders, particularly citizens groups. Analogously, at the local and national level, the disposition of resources should also be determined by elected bodies with the participation and involvement of all relevant stakeholders, particularly citizens groups, wherever pluralistic and open processes exist. Process implicates product: the closed nature of the G20 has circumvented any consideration of sustainable development in its Development Action Plan.

· The G20 should support a significant expansion of public finance to support sustainable development, including climate finance, as called for in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UNFCCC Cancun Agreement. The United Nations and its UNFCCC should work with other institutions, including the G20, to identify particularly innovative public sources of finance for mitigation and adaptation purposes and to design transparent, participatory and accountable mechanisms through which to deliver the financing in ways that further environmental, social and gender co-benefits and respect and uphold environmental, social, and gender safeguards.

Retooling the G20 Development Action Plan to Focus on Sustainable Development. The United Nations should work with the G20 and its member states to ensure that:

· Infrastructure. 

a) infrastructure and industrial priorities dovetail in ways that promote sustainable development;

b) trade agreements do not handicap the role of the state in national and regional development;

c) means by which risk is allocated between public and private sectors are set forth in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contracts which are disclosed to the public and which honor public obligations under existing international human and environmental rights conventions. These contracts should support sustainable management of natural resources and serve community interests over the course of generations; 

d) low-income consumers receive protections against price increases arising from the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels, or end-products such as food that depend upon such fuels.

· Access to electricity. 

To help meet the Millennium Development Goals and end energy poverty by 2030, the UN and the G20 should work with African partners to facilitate investments in energy technologies that prioritize energy access for the poor by focusing on affordable and reliable electricity (with a particular focus on off-grid solutions) and cooking energy.

· Agriculture. 

a) small-scale, agro-ecological forms of food production are expanded;

b) recognizing the role that women in many developing countries play in securing local food production, while regulating and supporting the transformation of industrial and other forms of unsustainable agriculture;

c) land tenure laws and economic incentives for production should support the roles of women and men equally, and give preference to the role of smallholders;

d) mandates and subsidies for industrial biofuels production should be withdrawn.

· Expansion of Social Protection Models. 

a) governments maintain a strong role in the provision of such services;

b) social protection ?floors? not be considered ?ceilings?;

c) models aim for universal rather than piecemeal coverage of needs; 

d) models of social protection be designed in a participatory way by the countries and beneficiaries for whom they are intended, taking into account the particular role women play currently in the delivery of unpaid social services;

e) models should rely on existing standard-setting institutions for social protection, such as those of the International Labor Organization (ILO), rather than dilute the authority and mandate of such institutions.

· National and local community initiatives. 

In retooling the DAP, with the support of UNEP, UNDP, and other UN agencies concerned with sustainable and equitable development, the G20 should emphasize the creation of national and local ownership of sustainable development plans, including national and local climate-change mitigation and adaptation plans. 

?Hard? and ?Soft? Commitments to a Sustainable World. At the 1992 Earth Summit, three global conventions were launched (relating to climate, biodiversity, and forests) to set forth binding commitments by nation-states to sustainable development goals. 

Currently, many nations want to reject such ?hard? commitments. As an example, in 2010, in negotiating the Copenhagen Accord, nations replaced binding emission reduction requirements with a ?pledge and review? process. ?Soft? legal norms in the fields of environment and human rights are creating a worrying lack of true accountability. In setting out his hopes for the 2012 Earth Summit, the UN Secretary-General stated,

There is a need to reinforce the institutions and processes involved in delivering on normative commitments made at the global level. Presently, there is an apparent disconnect between the bodies making normative decisions and the bodies responsible for implementation?

The United Nations should participate in all ?pledge and review? standard-setting processes of the G20 (e.g., responsible investment in value chains; environmental and social safeguards applying to infrastructure; responsible investment in agriculture) and ensure full civil society participation, particularly the involvement of affected communities, women and vulnerable groups, as well. 

Relying on an approach that respects the ?common but differentiated responsibilities? of nations, civil society must work with global, regional, and national governance bodies to not only pressing for ?hard? commitments, but also create ?Measure, Report, and Verify? (MRV) systems. These system would allow citizens to hold states and firms accountable for delivering emissions reductions, providing adequate aid for adaptation to climate change ? as well as for protecting community and individual rights to assets, including water, food and land. These ?MRV? systems should be backed by strong independent grievance mechanisms and other adjudicatory processes with enforcement teeth that ensure that there are consequences for violations.

While also working to strengthen legal frameworks for securing private and public-sector obligations, the UN and the G20 should: a) prepare an inventory of voluntary normative systems and b) launch a joint work plan (among the UN, the MDBs, civil society and the private sector) to assess the strengths and weaknesses of such systems in terms of conducting social, gender and environmental due diligence; guiding and disciplining the conduct of public and private actors; and ensuring access to justice by affected peoples. The work plan should seek full implementation of Rio Principles 10 and 20. Both the inventory and the work plan should be announced in the Earth Summit 2012 Outcome Document and the 2012 G20 Summit Communiqué.

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