With preparations for the June United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) moving in higher gear, the importance of the meeting and the opportunities to put in place the actions and mechanisms needed to address the urgent challenges are being increasingly emphasized. The publication of the zero draft of the outcome document has been widely criticized for neither being sufficiently ambitious, nor stressing the urgent need to address the mounting challenges. In advance of the first meeting of UN member states in New York to consider the proposed outcome document Eurostep prepared its own initial response.
Six main messages make up the Eurostep response to the Zero Draft. Among these, Eurostep finds that the document lacks the necessary ambition and urgency for addressing the challenges that the world faces. “The outcome of the conference must take full account of the gravity of the situation and of the recent social, political and economic developments, and demonstrate the political will to put in place far reaching changes for implementation without delay”, the paper reads.
Moreover, Eurostep urges governments to reaffirm the underlying principles of sustainable development agreed 20 years ago in Rio, such as the Precautionary Principle by which technological innovation should develop under ‘transparent and participative mechanisms’ to ensure it does not hinder sustainable development.
Another crucial aspect identified by Eurostep pertains to the new economic model that should be implemented and which should take full account of the principles of sustainable development. In this respect, the Zero Draft “needs to comprise clearer definition of what the green economy is and how it will lead to poverty eradication’’, reads the Eurostep response.
In promoting sustainable development, governments should also recognize that all sectors in society have a role to play and the private sector should not remain the main focus. The latter can make important contributions to sustainability, but it is not inevitable as some will act in ways that hinder such a goal. “The private sector must be encouraged to contribute to achieving sustainable development within suitable regulatory frameworks that are consistent with and derived from the principles for sustainable development and human rights, various conventions, and other agreements adopted by the international community”, reads the Eurostep response.
The last message in the Eurostep response reflects the need for future global institutions and mechanisms that will ensure effective implementation of the agreed principles. “Sustainable development is too important an issue to be subject to voluntary commitments, this will again allow governments to implement what they want in a flexible way and poses serious questions about the effectiveness of any accountability framework and assessment mechanisms”, argues Eurostep.