Is Rio+20 on the road to failure?

    Expectations are high for the upcoming U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But with various groups pushing different agendas, pundits fear Rio+20 won’t produce positive results.

    Apart from sustainable development, groups have been advocating for women empowerment and food security. Others are concerned about the increasing role of multinationals in U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy For All Initiative.

    The draft outcome document, which has been in the works for months now, remains contentious.

    African negotiators are working hard for certain paragraphs to remain in the outcome document, such as the transfer of technology to developing countries. The United States, however, is reportedly against it, and insists on “deleting” paragraphs dealing with the topic, a Ghanian negotiator said in an Economic Commission for Africa press release.

    Brazil, which now heads the negotiations, is optimistic the outcome document will be finalized before the conference kicks off Wednesday (June 20). But skeptics such as Oxfam International’s Tricia O’ Rourke argue it may just be an agreeable document that is “less likely to deliver sustainable development.”

    Is Rio+20 on the road to failure? Thomas Lovejoy, science and public policy professor at George Mason University, seems to think so. But, John Biers of Dow Jones Newswires writes in The Wall Street Journal, Rio+20 supporters can seek some “solace from the past.” The 1992 Rio conference, which was seen as a “triumph for the environment, was initially greeted with plenty of negative headlines, too.”

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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