Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL))
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL))
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Integration (1 hits),

Full Submission

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the compilation document to serve as a zero draft for an outcome at the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio. The Center for International Environmental Law offers the following comments:

I. Views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap

With respect to implementation, it is important to include not only the UN system and its associated nation stales but also international financial institutions (particularly the Bretton Woods institutions, of which only the World Bank is recognized as a specialized agency of the UN), civil society (including the recognized major groups), and the international trade regime. Within the UN system, it is vital to consider not only the different UN agencies and multilateral environmental agreements but also the overall UN human rights system as an anchor component for sustainable development.

First, with respect to international financial institutions, any Rio+20 outcome should address the relationship between the UN and Bretton Woods institutions .such as the World Bank. Given that the World Bank is a specialized agency of the UN, the outcome should make clear that international instruments (including, but not limited to, multilateral environmental agreements such as the UNFCCC, CBD, and CCD; human lights obligations; and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) must be respected and supported by international financial institutions in the fulfillment of their mandates.

Second, within the UN system; UN agencies need to improve their institutional approaches to addressing and implementing international obligations. Opportunities in this area to address the implementation gap include supporting efforts by UN agencies to create and maintain institutional safeguards grievance mechanisms, consistent with relevant international obligations.

Third, as regards major groups, the 1992 Earth Summit was a landmark moment for the major groups recognized as integral stakeholders lo negotiations. The ability of NGOs, women, youth, and others to take the floor alongside countries was formally recognized as a part of the Rio process and has had important implications for public participation generally. Likewise, improved access to information was an important outcome of Agenda 21. Implementation has had mixed success, with some fora increasingly opening participation to major groups while in others participation has been limited The experiences of civil society should be recognized as relevant and vital contributions in any process. Rio+20 gives us a chance to reaffirm these important principles of transparency, access to information, and participation and support increased opportunities for civil society generally, and potentially impacted communities specifically, to engage in participatory monitoring and assist with reporting information to the global community.

Two themes crucially important to this implementation gap are accountability and finance.

a. Accountability

It is crucial that any discussions of institutional governance support enhanced accountability in the sense that institutions must be responsible for their actions (including unintended adverse impacts) and responsive to concerns raised in the implementation of activities. Accountability should cover the full panoply of actors. This includes governments and corresponding international obligations and compliance regimes. It also includes international organizations, including environmental and social safeguard policies, accountability mechanisms, and international dispute settlement mechanisms. Accountability also pertains to non-state actors, particularly corporations (including compliance considerations, corporate policies, and financial institutions) but also labor unions, certification organizations, NGOs, and others. Indeed, the rise of globalization and its associated empowerment of international corporations, means that increasingly non-stale actors play a greater role in development with less historical accountability for its associated impacts.

For concrete actions related to accountability, at. Rio 2012, Heads of State should: (1) recognize and emphasize the need for increased accountability - domestically and internationally - in order to address the serious problems facing human society and make progress toward sustainable development, in particular by increasing implementation and effectiveness of commitments and obligations, in a world of multiple actors and different types of commitments; and (2) strongly endorse domestic and international actions to achieve this. Additionally, Rio 2012 should provide space for dialogue to improve clarity on the application of extraterritorial obligations.

b. Finance Financial resources for implementation of obligations have fallen far short of what assessments indicate arc required. Additional resources must be mobilized. For example, the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) identified an estimated $4.5 billion USD needed for financial resources and technical assistance. However, the 5th replenishment of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF 5). the only financial mechanism of the Stockholm Convention, allocated merely S375 million USD for POPs (U.S. $425 for Chemicals overall). Given historical trends, this will typically leverage about $700 million USD in co-financing. Recognizing the need for greater information regarding challenges on the implementation of treaty obligations, the funding gap is substantial and unlikely to be closed simply by a reduction of implementation barriers and inefficiencies. This funding gap is not unique to chemicals. For example, while costs for limiting global warming to a two degree target vary widely, annual amounts of $100 billion USD have been identified as a minimum estimate needed, with delay compounding the cost of both mitigation and adaptation. A portion of the financing has been committed, but the timing, source and hence impact of these funds is still to be determined. Given resource limitations, integrating human rights considerations into the prioritization of resource allocation is essential.

II. Specific Elements

a. Objective of the conference

CIEL sees particular opportunities in the following sectors:

1. Human rights

Earth Summit 2012 gives us a chance to consider rights and ecosystems together, both from an institutional governance perspective and in the green economy context. Institutionally, the UN system mandates a rights-based approach and any green economy must also respect human rights. The linkages between a green economy and environment mirror those that exist between governance and human Tights. Accordingly, identifying and strengthening the links between the green economy and governance also calls for a deepening of the relationship between human rights and the environment. In this regard, Rio2012 has before it a binary choice: either it makes progress on the linkages between human rights and the environment or it will take a step back. A missed opportunity in Rio 2012 would be most regrettable, not only given the theme of the conference and the progress already made in identifying the human rights and environment linkages, but also because the planet requires the development of new tools to secure global environmental justice. Rio 2012 must take decisive steps toward the recognition of the right to environment.

2. REDD+

Early on in the Rio+20 negotiations, REDD+ was cited as a unique area in which UN institutions and the World Bank are collaborating. Indeed, negotiation of a common approach to REDD+ between the World Bank, UN institutions, and other multilateral development banks, provided a novel opportunity to consider accountability and specific social and environmental protections in the context of institutional governance. Similarly, Rio+20 offers an opportunity to further address how UNFCCC obligations (including REDD+ safeguards), UNDRIP, CBD REDD safeguards, and human rights treaties can be respected throughout the implementation of REDD+. In addition to safeguards being elaborated within the UNFCCC, the CBD is also developing safeguards for REDD. Given that both the CBD and UNFCCC arc Rio conventions, it is important to ensure coherence between these two conventions, particularly for REDD+. Biodiversity should not be adversely affected in efforts to address climate change and the safeguards developed by each regime should be mutually respected and supported to ensure sustainable development. Additionally, beyond die particular REDD+ safeguards, Rio+20 provides an opportunity for other institutions (such as the UNFCCC) to learn how the CBD has negotiated and implemented access to benefit sharing and FP1C7P1C.

Regarding coherence and linkages across institutions related to REDD+ activities, CIEL believes that successful efforts to reduce deforestation require clear and equitable rights. We thus find troubling the statements by some actors within the UNFCCC that it is a climate convention and not a human rights convention. Nor does the World Bank directly respect human rights obligations. Unfortunately, that narrow focus and short-sighted perspective threatens to compromise results. There are very few places where we can have a discussion across these regimes on how rights should be respected. REDD+ efforts will benefit if we can improve the global understanding of-and support for-the rights of forest-dependent local communities. Rio+20 provides an opportunity to affirm the broadly recognized need to respect international obligations in the implementation of REDD+ and other sustainable development activities.

b. Green Economy

Experience to date indicates that the economic pillar has historically outweighed the social and environmental pillars. Consequently, economic development has often had the effect of exacerbating inequality and creating human health risks by ineffectively addressing environmental risks. One way this has been addressed in the past is through safeguards systems' at international institutions, and particularly at the Bretton Woods institutions. The UN system has an opportunity to build on these lessons learned and to consider what institutional policies for UN agencies can minimize social and environmental harms while maximizing benefits. Specifically, UN agencies can develop institutional safeguards and improve internal accountability in order to enhance sustainable development outcomes. This will be discussed further in the institutional framework section below.

One particular sectoral element of the green economy that Rio+20 could consider is the use of technology to promote innovation in the developed world. The ability for intellectual property to serve as a barrier to the transfer of technologies to the global South on fair and reasonable terms is a highly sensitive issue and well documented in certain contexts. In addition, sensitivities also exist around the patenting of genetic resources and traditional knowledge originating with indigenous peoples, local communities, or the developing world at large. These issues not only risk the delay the transition to a balanced green economy, but also risk undermining the integrity of international conventions, for example if restrictions are used by intellectual property rights-holders to gain market share for higher-priced proprietary technologies. Temporary resolutions have emerged; however, broader reform of innovation policies is necessary to advance a green economy, by both maintaining incentives for innovation without sacrificing access to beneficial technologies. Rio+20 could contribute to the beneficial use of technologies for sustainable development by identifying and supporting options beyond intellectual property rights to spur innovation.

c. Institutional framework for sustainable development Promoting linkages across institutions and enhancing accountability within institutions should be a central theme to strengthening implementation and Integration of the three pillars and at multiple levels. It is important to consider how these institutions, as well as the objectives and outcomes of the Rio+20 conference, will feed into the Millennium Development Goals.

We must avoid a "race to the bottom," in which the institutions with the weakest standards are the ones selected to implement sustainable development activities. The GEF, UNFCCC, and some UN agencies are now developing new safeguards and accountability systems (including grievance mechanisms). In this vein, Rio+20 provides an opportunity to consider safeguards as part of institutional governance discussions, and indeed safeguards have already been raised as a part of die 2012 Earth Summit negotiations. Generally speaking, UN institutions lack the detailed safeguards developed by the international financial institutions. Rio+20 has an opportunity to support enhanced safeguards systems at international institutions that respect rights and ecosystems. Notably, where this would apply within the UN itself, this kind of mandate would not require a treaty-level outcome to make it happen, which could facilitate implementation of such a decision.

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