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Rio+20, without the utopia



This article was taken from another site (see link below) and posted on this blog by Leonardo Santos for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES


Twenty years after Eco-92, Rio de Janeiro is preparing to host another meeting between international leaders who will discuss how to reconcile environmental preservation and economic development.

The United Nations conference on sustainable development, better known as Rio+20, is the fourth in a series of U.N. summits on the environment that began in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The next was Eco-92, which generated some important agreements, such as the conventions on climate change, biodiversity and Agenda 21.

In 2002, Rio+10 was held in Johannesburg, South Africa to establish a balance between the advances that had been achieved up until then. Now Rio+20 promises an even wider agenda-which has been the target of some criticism.

The central theme of the conference is the transition to a green economy, which proposes the adoption of a new system of production that is based on lower emission of pollutants, the efficient use of natural resources, and the eradication of poverty. The second theme that will be discussed is global governance: how countries will organize themselves, in terms of agreements, protocols and institutions to put this new model into practice.

The Brazilian government and the United Nations are hoping to repeat the success of Eco-92, when 108 heads of state and 17,000 activists from various NGOs came to Rio de Janeiro in the glare of the global media spotlight. According to the Brazilian foreign ministry, Itamaraty, more than 130 countries have confirmed their participation, and the city of Rio is preparing to provide housing for 50,000 visitors.

The side activities for the conference begin on June 13 and are scattered around a dozen locations such as Flamengo Park, Fort Copacabana and Mauá Pier. The Riocentro convention center, the same place that hosted Eco-92, will also be the headquarters of the main summit between the visiting heads of state, from June 20 to 22.

Despite the government’s ambition to attract more world leaders for Rio+20, it is well known that the conference is taking place in a critical geopolitical moment. With 7 billion people, never before has the physical limitations of the planet been such an important conversation. However, there is still a lack of political will to discuss the future.

“The leaders of rich countries are more worried about resolving the economic problems that exploded with the crisis that began in 2008 with the real estate market in the United States and sent aftershocks though European countries,” said Maurice Strong, the former Secretary-General of Eco-92 and current professor at the University of Beijing.

At the same time, emerging powers such as Brazil, China, Russia and India have gotten a taste of development and their newfound importance in the global context.

Now 83 years old, and about to make the journey to Rio+20, Strong is emphatic: the summit will not produce as many relevant agreements as those that came out of Eco-92.

“Rio+20 will attract many people and a lot of attention, but on political and economic issues, this is going to make it difficult to achieve much progress. We are not going to see the creation of any new agreements this time,” he says.

In 1992, the scene was very different. The end of the Cold War in 1989 with the symbolic falling of the Berlin Wall left much of the world less polarized and more open to new ideas. Environmental rhetoric began to gather strength with the publication of the Brundtland Report of 1987, which defined sustainable development as “that which serves present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to continue developing.”

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