Road to Rio+20 heats up

    Preparations within the international community continue as the June 20-22 schedule of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, fast approaches.

    In the latest of these preparations, representatives from countries and international organizations met March 15-16 in New York City and Rio de Janeiro for a series of workshops and round-table discussions on issues to be tackled during the conference.

    Among the delegates in Rio de Janeiro was EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik. The commissioner identified three elements he said are essential to any strategy to develop a green economy — one of the central themes of Rio+20. The elements include the use of market-based instruments to properly allocate resources, recognition of the key role of the private sector, and creation of a healthier and more predictable investment climate.

    Potočnik also urged the international community to be clear about the outcome it wants from the Rio conference. He said delegates should consider the impact of a green economy on sustainable development, push for global objectives, outline tangible outcomes and targets, and identify innovative ways to finance sustainable development.

    Meanwhile, in a high-level round table in New York, Switzerland emphasized the need for sustainable agriculture development. The country, according to the Swiss Federal Council, wants to see “a radical change of course in global agriculture and food policy” starting in Rio.

    A group of African negotiators also met in New York last week where they agreed on the need to “speak with one voice” for Africa come Rio+20. The negotiators, backed by the African Development Bank, however, recognized that the region still needs to decide what exactly it wants to achieve at the U.N. conference. Developing this “airtight position” is a “mammoth task,” the negotiators observed.

    Further, a two-day symposium is slated to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 22. Organized by the U.N. Development Program and the government of Turkey, the first “Global Human Development Forum” will use the 2011 Human Development Report as its framework for discussion. Participants are expected to come up with an “Istanbul Declaration,” where goals and priorities for Rio+20 will be set out.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.