16 Jun 2012

Whose interests are being addressed at RIO+20?

By Carolina Hazin

The United Nations opened an invaluable space for discussion with civil society. At the end of each day, during the prep com meetings, co-chairs of the conference and secretariat staff spend an hour at an open dialogue with the major groups. NGOs, scientific and technological community, youth, women, farmers, business, workers and trade unions, each give 2 minute statements  on where the feel negotiations are leading and, of course, their personal calls for action. From one side, frustration and a fear that the conference will not deliver any results. From the other side, the UN points out the historical  changes in front of us all.  Dozens of countries discussing for the first time a new concept, the ‘ green economy’,  and how to transform this into national reality.  The UN recognises that current millennium goals do not reflect the needs and hence development of the Sustainable Development Goals, measuring progress beyond economic growth by opening a discussion on GDP+ ( or other similar economic measures). Yes, it's not an easy task for governments to deliberate on this in a way that they all meet their needs and interests within their own limitations. When it comes to interests representatives of civil society are speaking up. Whose interests are being discussed here? As the UN says, 70% of the outcome document is from civil society input, but how much of it will be left after negotiations? The world is facing significant negative changes and the status quo cannot remain. Change is challenging for all, whilst attending to all economic national interests. But the challenge will be much, much bigger if we just keep going on as before with no changes agreed.