Anybody attending Rio+20 so far will have little doubt that the three pillars of sustainable development are yet to get equal billing on the agenda. The focus is very much on the economic pillar.
Jumping from one contact group to the other where negotiators are struggling to agree on some or indeed any commitments, I see that what is at stake is who will pay the bill and who will sustain a country to adopt changes in favour of sustainable development.
While discussing the means of implemenation of the Sustainable Development Goals, one delegate states that the Milleninum Development Goals could not be reached because there was not enough financial guarantee for developing countries to advance towards meeting these Goals. And they continues by saying that if a financial mechanism is not considered as a key element for the SDGs, there will be only failure and population will continue to grow with the same huge inequalities as witnessed today.
I headed to the Oceans negotiations and found the same financial concerns. The sections of texts that are not agreed are mainly those tackling the elimination or phasing out of perverse incentives for fisheries, as those that stimulates over fishing or fishing practices that are destructive.
Next stop for me to the Dialogue on “Sustainable development as an answer to the economic and financial crises”. The Dialogues are open arenas for participation of civil society which are invited to elect recommendations to the leaders at the Rio Conference. The message, again are along the lines of finance: “There is no sustainable development without a real transformation of the funding system. Change practices is costly, adapting tools is costly, educating for a new way of acting and governing is costly”.
One thing is certain. it is difficult now for radical change to take place the remaining short period of Rio before the Heads of States arrive. But if there is no agreement and a joint commitment for that start, there will be no more need for any other Rio+ in the future. It will be too late.