Rio + 20 – just another UN Summit, or can we really advance the environmental agenda?

From the Helen Suzman Foundation, Dr. Crispan Olver writes about the evolution of the current environmental governance system and the prospect for addressing world-wide environmental degradation at Rio+20.

By Dr. Crispan Olver,

In the past 40 years the environment has moved from a special interest topic to an everyday discussion with daily tips on the radio on how to live ‘green’ and businesses clambering onto the green bandwagon. And yet the environment has deteriorated and continues to do so world wide.

The unique feature of human civilisation is that we can talk to each other about our situation, and develop mutually binding codes of conduct that place limits on our behaviour. We have done this successfully in areas such as disease control and economic regulation, somewhat less successfully in trade and human rights. Why an we not achieve equivalent cooperation on the environment, the destruction of which poses serious long term risks to human health and development?

Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, marks the 20th anniversary of the ground breaking Rio Earth Summit, and will review progress towards achieving its ambitious agreements. One of the key topics at the Summit will be the system of global environmental governance. This paper explores the evolution of the current environmental governance system, and the prospect for real progress on some of the issues.

To read the full paper click here

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