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Heads of states must fight till the very end in Rio
Much work lies ahead for head of states, if the Rio +20 summit will lead to more than fine words. But it can be done, if politicians want it. ActionAid Denmark’s Kirsten Hjørnholm Sorensen is currently in New York to follow the latest round in the world's heads of states meet in Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
MS' policy advisor, Kirsten Hjørnholm Sørensen, is following the last round of negotiations in New York prior to the Rio+20 summit.
06. June 2012
What is the status of negotiations right now?
Right now, a small miracle is needed if the Rio Summit is to lead to more than another UN process and fine words. Real actions that tackle poverty, environmental degradation, and social and economic injustice are very few in the text. But the good news is that negotiations are taking place, and that it's not too late for heads of states to make a difference when they come to Rio. However if they don’t, populations all over the world call the failures.
One of the major topics at the summit is the proposal to create a set of sustainable development goals. How is the process going?
All countries agree that a set of global sustainability is likely to be one of the summit's major achievements. But countries do not agree on which topics should be covered, which principles goals should be based on, what the process should be and how SDGs, as they are known, are related to the UN’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Developing countries want to be much more involved in the process of setting up the goals, in contrast to when the MDGs were created. Rich countries want instead to have goals laid down as soon as possible, a fast process, and then hope that ownership at the national level come afterwards.
The concept of green economy has been much promoted by the EU? Does that discussion deliver results?
The EU has found it difficult to convince developing countries that a green economy is not about a new kind of monopoly on technology and new trade barriers. Large countries like China may be transforming somewhat to a green economy, but considers it as an issue only for national level, not for the multilateral level to decide upon. In this round of negotiations, the EU has increasingly said that the fight against poverty must be central in a green economy, but their real negotiating positions are not really backing it up. There is little new money for development, agricultural subsidies are not up for discussion, and the EU is dragging its feet when it comes to reforming the global food system.
A new report from UNDP shows that one in four in Sub-Sahara Africa live in hunger. Are we getting any closer to eradicating hunger at the Rio +20 Summit?
It’s really a scandal that the right to food is not at the center of all discussions on food and agriculture. The U.S. is currently one on the main blockers of transforming our global food system, as there are large industrial interests at play. The EU tries to hold on to ensuring increased access to women and small holder farmers to land, credit, training and markets, but in reality they too have large agricultural interests at home.
What about renewable energy? Countries can agree to transition?
Nobody talks about it, but everyone knows it. First-generation biofuels, which are primarily made on food crops, may play a rather large role in the plans for transitioning to renewable energy, which countries may commit to in Rio. The EU seeks to introduce text that highlight the nexus between energy, food security and water, but they have not even been able to find out how to make proper sustainability criteria home in the EU. The sad fact is, that unless countries openly confront the problems of first generation biofuels, the increasing use of biofuel will hike up food prices even more and lead to land grabbing from small farmers in order to grow energy crops. This is not sustainable development by any measure.