Brazil wants Rio+20 to stipulate targets

The government of Brazil is establishing sustainable development targets in the final text of the UN conference, to take place in June, as was the case with the Millennium Development Goals.

São Paulo – The government of Brazil wants Rio+20, the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development, scheduled for June, in Rio de Janeiro, to establish targets for the area, as was the case with the Millennium Summit, in 2000, which released the Millennium Development Goals, targets for reduction of global poverty that should be reached by 2015.

“We may complement the Millennium Goals,” said on Tuesday (6), in São Paulo, ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo de Machado, undersecretary general for the Environment, Energy, Science and Technology at the Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty). According to him, the sustainable development targets, like those for the millennium, may be established for implementation in 15 years, from 2015 to 2030, and should be valid for all countries. “Not just developing nations,” he said.

Machado said that the theme is “under negotiation”, but that there is “great convergence” in the matter. As an example, he mentioned doubling the use of renewable energies over a specific period. The diplomat pointed out, however, that if Rio+20 really does release targets for sustainable development, figures and periods should continue under negotiation after the conference.

To the ambassador, the targets should not be solely for governments, but also for companies and the society as a whole. One of the objectives of the conference is to cause companies to take on “voluntary pledges”, like not using certain damaging products and providing incentives for people to adopt more sustainable habits.

“Not everybody can have an SUV in their garage,” he exemplified, referring to the popularity of the vehicle, which is large and generally consumes much fuel, as an “unsustainable” consumer habit. 

The UN event, according to Machado, is more than an environment conference. Sustainable development must combine economic growth, social advances and environmental preservation.

In this respect, the themes to be discussed, subject to target stipulation, include food safety, water, energy, oceans, eradication of poverty and sustainable patterns for production and consumption, among others. “Rio+20 will be more about action, not legislation. Rio 92 was about legislation,” he said, referring to the UN environmental conference in 1992, in the same city.

Figueiredo pointed out that the event this year is taking place in a different world from that of 1992 and in a scenery of economic crisis, which provides an opportunity for talks about a new development model. “The current model has exceeded its capacity to answer to challenges,” he said. “Crises are a consequence of the model itself, so it deserves revision,” he added.

At the same time, there is now greater conscience of the importance of sustainability, a concept that “was not very clear” in 1992. In this respect, the ambassador defended that the Rio+20 should cover “implementation” of decisions already taken and “should look to new challenges”. “Rio+20 is the moment to consider what the new routes are,” he pointed out.

The government, according to him, wants to see two areas contemplated in the conference’s final document. The first is the “green economy”, which includes targets and the second is institutional, “of governance for sustainable development,” with the strengthening of the United Nations Programme Environment Programme (UNEP) and the establishment of a Sustainable Development Council in the scope of the UN, replacing the existing commission, albeit with fewer powers than a “council”.

To Figueiredo, the conference will be “the most important foreign policy event of the” Dilma Rousseff presidency. 

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