Discussion Paper

We, the representatives of the 9 Major Groups, call on the Heads of State and Government to ensure the Rio+20 Earth Summit is successful in achieving an ambitious and shared vision for the future of our people and planet.  The UN was built to advance cooperation and peace between countries and peoples. While the 21st Century has new challenges and concerns, the need for solidarity is as urgent as ever. Globally, we have never generated more wealth, and at the same time the inequality gap continues to grow. We are consuming resources faster than the Earth can regenerate them, and producing more waste and pollution than the Earth can absorb. There is scientific consensus that Planet Earth is rapidly approaching its boundaries of a healthy and safe environment conducive to a life of dignity.

Much remains to be done so that Rio+20 produces a meaningful agreement with concrete outcomes. Our leaders must seize the unique one in a generation opportunity of Rio+20 to reimagine our socio-economic systems and the way in which they should work in harmony with nature to deliver greater well-being for all, now and into the future. But we must act decisively. Full, fair, and transparent participation of all Major Groups and stakeholders, in both the process and in government delegations, will result in well-informed and more legitimate decisions. Participation includes better access to information and justice. Rio+20 should support the development of new and improved models of partnership working, which enables citizens to take ownership of outcomes and their delivery, and hold governments and other implementing actors accountable for their actions. We are convinced that the points below are essential for making sustainable development a reality. Rio+20 must:

1. Assure Inclusive Participation at all Stages – We emphasize the importance of ensuring the engagement of all Major Groups at all levels and as appropriate, following decisions taken by ECOSOC on the Major Group structure and building on Agenda 21, the JPOI and other relevant UN summits and conferences, while drawing from existing experiences in other relevant UN System bodies to design new and improved models of governance and engagement in the new IFSD arrangements. The reforms should incorporate expert advice from stakeholders at all stages, guarantee ownership of outcomes and their delivery to ensure the strengthening of the IFSD. We need to give a voice to future generations, and therefore call to retain the proposal for a high level representative for future generations.

2. Deliver Democratic Decision-Making – We stress that leadership and democracy at all levels and stages is necessary. But positions of leadership come with responsibility and accountability: governments should represent people and they should hear our voices. We need educated citizens empowered to engage and contribute to sustainable development processes in truly democratic systems. We therefore call for new structures following and flowing from Rio+20 which creates inclusive institutions, delivers democratic decision-making and strengthens public participation.

3. Provide Access to Information – We underline that access to information, participation in transparent decision-making processes, and access to judicial and administrative proceedings are basic rights for all, to be achieved at all levels of decision-making, including local, subnational, national and international processes. We call for these rights to be fully incorporated into the current and future UN processes on sustainable development. At a minimum, all processes must ensure that all Major Groups and stakeholders are provided with the same information and the same documents at the same time, including preparatory and summary documents and the details of decisions taken. Governments must also facilitate public awareness and participation by making information widely available, and provide effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including access to redress and remedy. 

4. Build Stakeholder Capacity – Stakeholder engagement includes not only the opportunity to The Major Groups are Business and Industry; Children and Youth; Farmers; Indigenous Peoples; Local Authorities; NGOs; Scientific and Technological Community; Women; and Workers and Trade Unions Discussion Paper participate, but also the ability to participate. We call for capacity building and training initiatives building on the work done to date as central part of the comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy. This includes establishing trust funds and other funding mechanisms, as far as reasonable, to remove financial barriers to participation.

While each Major Group has further views on substantive policy and thematic issues, this statement calls for improved ways in which those views are heard, considered and incorporated into decisions. It is our view that the points outlined above are fundamental to a successful outcome of Rio+20. These points must be reflected throughout the final Rio+20 Outcome Document where relevant, in particular, but not exclusively, in Paragraph 76(h). We urge all governments now engaged in the Rio+20 negotiations, and indeed all Major Groups and stakeholders, to carefully consider each of these points, use them as the basis for inclusive dialogue at national, regional, and intergovernmental levels and forge partnerships around them in the spirit of cooperation to ensure that Rio+20 can deliver the strong outcomes required to transition toward sustainability.

To download the statement click here

To read the Rio+20 Outcome document click here