Rio+20: reasons to be cheerful

John Vidal- The Guardian, 6/27/2012

Read the post mortems and commentaries from Rio+20, and you’d think a global disaster had taken place. The UN multilateral system is said to be in crisis, the environment is falling off the edge, and every blade of grass and hillside is for sale. Pundits and NGOs scream that it was “the greatest failure of collective leadership since the first world war”, “a bleak day, a disastrous meeting” and “a massive waste of time and money”.

Perspective, please. Reaction after the 1992 Rio summit was uncannily similar. Countries passed then what now seem far-sighted treaties and embedded a slew of aspirations and commitments into international documents – but NGOs and journalists were still distraught. They said the climate change agreement was too weak, that sustainable development was too abstract a concept, that the promised aid was inadequate, and that the US had guaranteed the felling of the Amazon forest by refusing to sign the biodiversity convention. There were, they said, no agreements on population growth or subsidies, or oceans, or trade, or women’s rights … and myriad other issues. In short, just like Rio 2012, the meeting was said to be a dismal failure of governments to co-operate.

I was pretty downhearted then, too. So when I returned I went to see Richard Sandbrook, a legendary environmental activist who co-founded Friends of the Earth, directed the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and profoundly influenced a generation of governments, business leaders and NGOs before he died in 2005. Sandbrook made the point (I paraphrase) that NGOs always scream murder because it is their job to push governments, that pundits exaggerate because they are controversialists, and that UN conferences must disappoint because all views have to be accommodated.

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UAE’s Mubadala Targets Brazil for Energy Partnerships

Diana Kinch – Wall Street Journal, 6/20/2012

RIO DE JANEIRO–United Arab Emirates investment-and-development company Mubadala Development Co. is targeting large companies in Brazil to set up cooperation projects in the renewable-energy area, the director of a Mubadala unit said Wednesday.

“We have been interested in Brazil for some time. Brazil’s high on our agenda,” said Nawal Al-Hosany, director of Mubadala’s Masdar unit in an interview on the sidelines of the Rio+20 sustainable-development summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Last month, Mubadala purchased for $2 billion a 5.6% stake in Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s EBX group, which has interests in areas including energy, oil, mining and real estate.

Mubadala also is interested in health care, information technology, infrastructure and aerospace, Ms. Al-Hosany said.

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“Brazil can do great things for itself, Vinod Thomas”

O Globo, 6/20/2012


Just in the past five years, Brazil has shown that it’s capable of making incredible advances. Indian economist, ex-director of the World Bank in Brazil and General Director of Independent Evaluation of the Asian Development Bank Vinod Thomas explains that while Brazil may still be developing, through streamlining the process of sustainable developments at a local level, Brazil has a chance at continued prosperity and green development.

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Rio+20 Is Our Chance to Recognize the Benefits Healthy Oceans Have for People

Greg Stone – Huffington Post, 6/21/2012

When President John Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, he issued the world a set of challenges. He said, “Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.”

The United States answered his challenge when it came to space exploration, but in many ways, we missed the mark on the oceans. It is only now, more than 50 years later, that the world is finally turning its collective attention to the other 70 percent of Earth which so dominates its appearance from space and affects every aspect of our survival.

This week, world leaders and delegates from over 190 nations are meeting in Rio de Janeiro to address the great challenges of sustainable development and build a new model of green growth in the coming century. One of the most important issues they are discussing is the state of our planet’s oceans, and rightfully so; they are at the foundation of all that we do, and ocean health will determine the direction of our quality of life in the 21st century.

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Rio+20: Prince Charles sends warning to Earth summit

The Guardian, 6/18/2012

In a prerecorded speech to the Rio+20 UN sustainable development conference today, the Prince of Wales warned of the potentially “catastrophic” consequences of inaction on issues such as climate change and global food security.

In the video address, Charles said: “I have watched in despair at how slow progress has sometimes been and how the outright, sceptical reluctance by some to engage with the critical issues of our day have often slowed that progress to a standstill.

“As I speak, the world’s rainforests continue to be destroyed, wiping out so much of the world’s vital biodiversity and removing our chances of storing carbon naturally.

“And we continue to ignore the painful lessons of the so-called green revolution in India by intensifying our food production methods in such blinkered, chemically and technologically-based ways, that the land and the oceans are now both beginning to fail.”

He added: “Already levels of CO2 have exceeded 400 parts per million. 450 parts per million is the tipping point we have to avoid so every day of delay threatens to make the change more dramatic.”

He added that scientific evidence shows the potential consequences and warned we can no longer ignore the risk.

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Rio+20: Sustainable development needs women’s empowerment, UN official says

United Nations – 6/18/2012

Sustainable development will not be achieved without empowering women, the head of the United Nations agency tasked with advancing gender equality said today, adding that the importance of their participation must be reflected in all aspects of the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).“We cannot afford to leave women marginalized,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet, told reporters today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “This is not sustainable. This social exclusion of women is not only hurting women, it is hurting all of us.”

On Friday, the responsibility for the negotiations on the outcome document was handed over to the Brazilian Government, which holds the Presidency of Rio+20. The South American nation has since presented a shorter consolidated text for countries to work on, and indicated that the consultation process on the document is expected to conclude on 18 June. It will then be put forward for adoption by Member States, when they meet from 20 to 22 June.

In her comments, Ms. Bachelet said that the outcome document must highlight women’s roles throughout the entire text, as their participation permeates all aspects of sustainable development, including agriculture, education, environmental management and decision-making, among others.

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