• Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: SustainUS
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Technology (3 hits),

Full Submission

Inputs: Rio+20 Compilation Document

November 1, 2011

As youth, we will live in a world shaped by the outcomes of the Rio+20 summit. Over the past century we have seen the needs of future generations neglected while ecosystems are abused and the people who depend on them ignored. Global ecological and economic crises are not distant possibilities; they are an immediate reality and require global collaboration. We call for a Rio+20 process that ensures bold and immediate action that protects the rights of future generations to lead meaningful and dignified lives.

Expanding the Definition of Sustainable Development

Sustainability is a critical organizing concept for global action but vague and competing definitions pose a liability to successful outcomes. Current UN definitions are helpful but often fail to go far enough in capturing the full scope of work involved in meaningful sustainable development and a transition to a global green economy. We call on Member States to:

● Adopt a definition of sustainability that conveys underpinning ecological, social, cultural, and economic principles. We need to re-conceptualize development and prioritize the precautionary principle if we are to achieve sustainability.

● Adopt a definition of ?green economy? that prioritizes the well-being and basic needs of people and recognizes that infinite material growth is impossible in a finite world. A green economy must minimize ecosystem degradation and move beyond GDP as the sole indicator of prosperity.

Improving Institutions and Governance Systems

Achieving the goal of global sustainability depends on having an effective institutional framework based on commitment from sovereign governments. Rio+20 will be a unique opportunity to strengthen international environmental governance and to develop the necessary tools to mitigate and adapt to current world challenges.

● We call on Member States to strengthen the responsibilities and mandate of the UNEP. The strengthened institution needs to possess the financial support to fully streamline its monitoring, assessment and reporting responsibilities.

● We call on the Secretariat to initiate an extensive review of compliance mechanisms within existing international environmental agreements, identifying the most successful practices and supporting their use in future agreements.

Creating Tools for the Green Economy

Our current global economic institutions and international economic system have failed to adequately support sustainable development ? we need new policies to assist in the transition to a green economy. Youth need to be a central stakeholder of any such policies since we will be the ones to carry forward this new economy. We call on Member States to:

● Streamline green Technology standards across all countries and international institutions to better facilitate the transfer and dissemination of green Technology.

● Address the adverse impacts of structural adjustment programs (including austerity measures, privatization, and export-led growth) on sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

● Promote ?active labor market policies? including: subsidized or free primary, secondary, and post-secondary education; job training; and unemployment insurance in order to improve labor market flexibility and income mobility in the face of ecological changes and changes to industrial structure that may emerge due to environmental regulation.

● Establish international legal structures that recognize and protect the rights of ?benefit corporations? to pursue a ?triple bottom line? of economic, social, and environmental gains without undermining fiduciary responsibility.

● Recognize and address the need for a reform of the international banking and finance sector through the implementation of a Financial Transaction Tax (also known as a Tobin or Robin Hood Tax). The money collected through this tax should be put towards sustainable development initiatives.

● Call for a review and potential cancellation of third-world debt in appropriate circumstances where it will allow for further investment in sustainable development initiatives. Debt-for-nature swaps, with indigenous peoples as key stakeholders, should also be considered.

● Recognize, with regards to the green economy, that one size does not fit all and instead offer a range of ideas and possibilities for all countries on the path to sustainable development. These should be based on the sharing of best practices, lessons learned, and the robust transfer of knowledge and Technology.

Equity and Equality: The Foundation of Sustainable Development

The objective of any international policy should be to further promote equity and equality. Rio+20 needs to prioritize both of these concepts as it discusses ways to bring about sustainable development. We call on Member States to:

● Prioritize local control of resources, recognizing that the privatization of essential resources such as water ? especially without robust public monitoring and oversight ? risks restricting people's access to resources that have sustained them for generations. In the absence of resource management structures, states should build capacity for management rather than privatizing or managing resources directly. Indigenous peoples and their historical rights to resources, particularly land, must be explicitly protected.

● Address the inequities of development by establishing concrete planning mechanisms for the equitable distribution of benefits of international development projects. Development fundamentally implies a change in existing structures. As a result, we must actively mitigate harms to those who are adversely affected.

● Recognize that developing countries, local communities and individuals need stronger legal and economic institutions to maintain their sovereignty and freedom to develop along paths other than export-led growth.

● Establish a legal forum in which affected individuals can seek redress from parties facilitating trans-national development projects. Individuals need to be given space to legally defend themselves when their land and communities are threatened.

● Recognize and address the need for global protection of the commons. Land, sky, water, ecosystems, ores, public spaces, scientific knowledge and local customs all sprang from nature?s abundance and/or the life?s work of previous generations. We need international institutions to assist in protecting these shared resources.

Conflict and Disaster: Obstacles to Sustainable Development

In the Johannesburg Declaration (paragraph 19), Member States ?reaffirm [their] pledge to place particular focus on, and give priority attention to, the fight against the worldwide conditions that pose severe threats to the sustainable development of our people, which include...armed conflict...[and] natural disasters...? We need a renewed commitment to closing implementation gaps and achieving progress on these critical issues. We call on Member States to:

● Address as a priority the impacts of armed conflict on local communities and the environment, with special consideration for related conditions that pose severe threats to children and youth, such as: disruption of basic services, endemic disease, intolerance, terrorism, and environmental hazards and degradation (e.g., landmines and medical waste).

● Strengthen international, national, and local partnerships to engage local stakeholders in support of integrated financial mechanisms, as well as post-conflict and environmental disaster assessments, cleanup and reconstruction, capacity building, victim assistance, and risk education.

● Actively foster, with the support of the Secretariat, intra-UN collaboration to effectively and comprehensively address the impacts of armed conflict and disaster on sustainable development. Civil society should also be actively involved in the development and implementation of innovative and robust policy measures.

● Recognize the unique needs of environmentally displaced peoples and consider establishing international procedures to assist them.

● Emphasize the crucial role of sustainable development in mitigating the economic, social, and environmental effects of armed conflict, and in promoting and sustaining peace.

For more information, please contact:

Matt Maiorana, SustainUS Policy Coordinator

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