Despite Its Failure, Rio+20 Still Has an Unfinished Agenda in Sustainable Development


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In June 2012, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) hosted the third international conference on sustainable development, named the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) or simply Rio 2012, Rio +20. Aimed at harmonizing the economic and environmental interests of the global community, the conference had three goals: to achieve a new political commitment to sustainable development, to evaluate how well earlier promises were being implemented, and to identify implementation gaps. and to discuss new and emerging concerns.

Ten years down the road, we have made progress in some specific areas, however, complex challenges still lie ahead. The world needs to keep evolving its framework for sustainable development and work towards the unfinished agenda.

Rio+20. successes and failures of

Highlighting the growing gap between what nations need to do, what they have promised to do, and what they are actually doing was one of the most important issues that the Rio+20 conference successfully addressed. Earlier, many participating countries had vowed to a sustainable future by signing climate change treaties. Most of the promises made in the past to reduce carbon emissions were not fully met. Rio+20 provided a platform to address the issue. Another impressive achievement was the conference’s ability to attract a wide range of member states. In addition, it covered topics including youth unemployment, the establishment of respectable jobs, problems with women’s health and sexuality, and the actions of labor unions.

However, the conference was seen by many as a failure due to the absence of several important developed countries. The absence of several G20 leaders from the summit, including the then US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, highlighted the ongoing tension between developed and developing countries. It also demonstrated the absence of global agreement and cooperation for a sustainable future. More importantly, there are no specific, measurable activities in the document ‘The Future We Want’ and all country commitments are voluntary. Because of all this, the conference agenda was criticized for being weak and even more difficult to accomplish without ready-made specifications.

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Failed to meet the needs of the poor

The effects of climate change remain most severe in developing countries. The lack of financial support for developing countries’ transition to a sustainable and eco-friendly future demonstrates a lack of commitment on a global scale. There are threats to food security for all, the disappearance of low-lying islands due to rising sea levels, changing climates causing millions of people to leave their homes, land degradation and loss of livelihoods. Climate change is worsening the way of life in the Global South and the people living here are the least to blame. For them, issues of food and water are challenges to their everyday existence rather than environmental problems.

get over the political charioteer

Often environmental and climate change treaties are said to be political sham, a charioteering attempt to create the illusion of progress towards a sustainable future. Over the past 40 years the countries have participated in several summits and conferences and have agreed to ratify many regional and international treaties, but most of them fail to meet their goals due to lack of concrete political action and commitment. are.

In the first Kyoto Protocol, several developed nations such as the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia withdrew from the agreement, saying that the agreement binds only developed countries. Canada, which was considered committed to reducing its emissions, later in 2009 discovered that emissions were 17% higher than previously thought. Such incidents reveal how those most at risk continue to endure the effects of climate change, with individuals in wealthier countries underestimating their mistakes and exaggerating their contributions to a pornographic drama. We do.

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A corruption-free future for climate change

Corruption and climate change are related. Confronting the former can help deal with the other. Development projects, carbon markets are very vulnerable to corruption and can easily lose transparency. Without transparency where public spending is carried out, there is a huge risk of losing public trust. the fact that India Now ranked 85th on the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021, it shows how vulnerable our initiatives to address climate change are to corruption at many different levels. Having accountable institutions and participatory government is important as we intend to invest billions of dollars in combating climate change over the next 10 years.

Acting now makes sense from both an economic and environmental point of view. More greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere only mean that the growth of economies will slow. For the developed world, sustainable living can be a way of life to protect the environment. However, for the developing world, sustainable development is an opportunity for social and economic mobility.

Despite the fact that Rio +20 fell short of many of its objectives, it served as a springboard for discussions on both economic and environmental development. It remains to be seen whether all countries have the political will to contribute towards a sustainable future.

Dr Harshit Kukreja is Research Analyst, and Mahek Nankani is Assistant Program Manager at Takshashila Institution. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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