As negotiators completed their work on the outcome document presented to world leaders at Rio+20, the United Nations Secretary-General warned them that time is short and this document must ""meet their [Heads of State and Government] expectations""
Momentum has been building to this point: the start of Rio+20, formally known as the U.N. Sustainable Development Conference, which has officially begun in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Despite the negative pre-summit press coverage, a who's who of world leaders, diplomats, captains of industry, and civil society heads converged on the Brazilian city in what I believe can be a successful conference; one where finding solutions to the problems confronting global sustainability can be achieved. Does a difficult task await the delegates? Absolutely! Can solutions be found? Is it doable? Yes, I feel it is. What is the alternative? Failure? This is not an option and cannot even factor into the equation at Rio+20.
As the world's attention remains riveted on the small European nation of Greece, its ongoing economic troubles, and its deleterious effects on the global economy, as well as the political turmoil following the results of the Egyptian elections, the world must not lose sight of the important work to be done in Rio de Janeiro.
Hope was high back in 1992 when the first Rio conference took place and the concept of sustainable development was born; now, 20 years hence and, several intervening summits having taken place, the world continues to face enormous challenges -- economically, environmentally, and socially -- all the more reason why this summit is so important.
WHAT AWAITS CONFEREES
The conference will focus on the three linchpins of sustainable development. The delegates will look at ways of creating prosperity, trimming the level of those living in poverty, preserving the environment, and building a more equitable social structure.
Secretary-General of the Rio+20 Conference Sha Zukang, head of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, quoted recently as saying, "Rio 2012 is humanity's chance to commit to a transition to a green economy and lift people out of poverty. We cannot wait for another 20 years. The time to commit is at Rio 2012."
The U.N. General Assembly set forth its commitment to the conference by laying out three official objectives:
- Securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development;
- Assessing progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development;
- Addressing new and emerging challenges relating to sustainable development.
With respect to the third General Assembly objective, a number of threats have arisen since the first Rio summit that delegates to the first Preparatory Committee (PrepCom 1) listed as clearly needing added attention at Rio+20.
The issues they felt required additional focus were:
1. achievement of MDGs
2. biodiversity and ecosystem loss
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