People’s Statement on Sustainable Development and Rio+20

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will take place in 2012, marking two decades of official international action on sustainable development. In the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the international community came to recognize the unequal and unsustainable character of dominant development patterns. At the same time, it committed to take steps towards more equitable and sustainable development, and produced the conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and Agenda 21. Twenty years on, the world finds itself far off track in realizing the vision of Rio, even before the explosion of the multiple financial and economic crisis of 2007-08. These recent crises further aggravated the food, energy and the climate crises and underscored the urgency of a global shift to alternative development models.

Expanded and sustained participation by civil society in the evolving development discourse leading up to Rio+20 is crucial in this respect. One of the two themes that have been identified by the UN as central to Rio+20 – the need to elaborate the transition to “ green economies” as a solution to the problems of escalating ecological destruction and poverty – is proving to be a potentially contentious arena. There are concerns that the green economy agenda could be hijacked by narrow Northern corporatist interests and sidetrack efforts to address the much-more complex social, developmental, and equity issues linked to sustainability in favor of less politically sensitive, market-based and ill-conceived technology fixes; and one-size fits all approaches that constrain the sustainable development prospects for the South. There is, thus, an urgent need for CSOs especially in the global South to effectively engage their own governments on Rio+20 and beyond.

It was in this light that the Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN), Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific (ROA-AP) and IBON International organized the Conference Workshop on Rio+20 to:

• Increase the awareness and understanding of CSOs and peoples’ movements in the South of the policy agenda in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development scheduled for May 2012 (also known as Rio+20), particularly the social and developmental implications of the Rio themes of “green economy” and “institutional framework for sustainable development”.

• Bring different CSOs and peoples’ movements in the South into a common discussion to exchange ideas and experiences and develop a common advocacy agenda for Rio+20 and beyond.

On behalf of IBON International, Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific and Asia Pacific Research Network, we are pleased to announce the launching of the outcome document and proceedings of a conference workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand last August 15-17, 2011 entitled, “Promoting a Transformative Agenda for Sustainable Development: A Strategy Workshop on Rio+20”. This outcome document will be of interest to anyone working on climate policy and genuine people-centered sustainable development agenda in the lead up to Rio+20.

Original article published at

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