21 Jun 2012

Civil Society influence on RIO+20 minimal as Governments fail to listen

By Carolina Hazin

It was by far the most punchy statement. As the representative of the NGOs for the major groups spoke at the opening plenary of the high level session of the Rio Conference there was much applause from audience outside watching the event on huge screens. They heard the call or countries not to lose the great opportunity in front of them: "don't waste your power! Instead of attending to the narrow interests of individual governments, leaders should be inspired to change the world" After all, what will the world leaders be doing in Rio for the next  three days if the text is already closed for negotiation? This was the question circulating among us all at  'Rio Centro'.  The text,  finalised by the Brazil Government, was accepted by negotiators earlier this week.  It is weak and does not bring new significant commitments. Yes, it is true that for the first time SDGs and green economy are tackled in a global document. But the evidence of a global system failure is there. The need for a radical change is there. "The text is out of touch with reality," affirms the NGOs representative. Those involved in the UN-lead process are trying to persuade the NGOs and wider public that Rio+20 is a progress and that never in the history of the UN has civil society been so closely involved and influenced the discussions. That may be true in their eyes -  with the exception of the word 'Inflluencing'. The Dialogue Days were an example of wide participation as well as events on the road to Rio where individuals could contribute with suggested text. But how much is simply paying lip service? The evidence is clear. It has fallen on the deaf ears of governments. Read the NGO statement See webcast of speech