7. International Environmental Law

The Conference was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil between 20–22 June 2012. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development addresses a range of global issues that includes access to clean energy, food security, water and sustainable transportation.

“Rio+20 have given us a solid platform to build on,” UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon said. “Rio+20 has affirmed fundamental principles of renewed essential commitments – and given us new direction.”

 7.1 Final Agreement

 World leaders approved the outcome document for Rio+20, entitled “The Future We Want,” this evening. In the months leading up to Rio+20, negotiations on the outcome document included several weeks long sessions and many long nights, but under the leadership of the Brazilian Government, a compromise was reached and agreement made by the 193 Member States of the United Nations.

“The outcome document provides a firm foundation for social, economic and environmental wellbeing,” Mr. Ban said. “It is now our responsibility to build on it. Now the work begins.”

The document calls for a wide range of actions, among many other points, including: launching a process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme and establishing a new forum for sustainable development; promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures; taking steps to go beyond GDP to assess the wellbeing of a country; developing a strategy for sustainable development financing; adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production; focusing on improving gender equality; stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy; and recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, concluding the Conference, told participants that the outcome document is a great step forward. “I am convinced that this Conference will have the effect of bringing about sweeping change.”

 7.2 Commitments

 Beyond the negotiated document, voluntary commitments played a key role in the outcome of Rio+20, with an estimated $513 billion mobilized from the 13 largest commitments alone. Over 700 voluntary commitments by civil society groups, businesses, governments, universities and others. The total included more than one hundred commitments and actions announced by Mr. Ban in support of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative towards achieving three objectives – ensuring energy access, doubling energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy – all by 2030.

More than 50 Governments from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Small Island Developing States have engaged with the initiative and are developing energy plans and programmes. Businesses and investors have committed more than $50 billion to achieve the initiative’s three objectives. More than one billion people will benefit from Sustainable Energy for All’s public and private sector commitments.

Eight multilateral development banks announced they will provide financing of more than $175 billion through 2020 to support sustainable transport in developing countries. And the World Bank announced that more than 80 countries, civil society groups, private companies and international organizations have declared their support for the new Global Partnership for Oceans.

More than 200 commitments to sustainable development by businesses were announced at the conclusion of the UN Global Compact’s Corporate Sustainability Forum.

Mr. Ban also issued a ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ yesterday, calling on all nations to be boldly ambitious as they work for a future where everyone enjoys the right to food and all food systems are resilient. The Challenge aims to provide 100 per cent access to adequate food year round, while increasing small farm productivity and zero loss or waste of food. Several countries have already taken up the challenge. For example, the United Kingdom pledged £150 million (approx. $234 million) to help smallholder farmers feed millions.

The Brazilian Government announced the creation of the Rio+ Centre, the World Centre for Sustainable Development. The Rio+ Centre will facilitate research, knowledge exchange and international debate about sustainable development. Its partners include the State Government of Rio de Janeiro, the Rio Municipality and several UN agencies, as well as academic institutions, businesses and civil society groups.

Rio+20 Secretary General Sha Zukang said, “This Conference is about implementation. It is about concrete action. The voluntary commitments are a major part of the legacy of this Conference. They complement the official outcome of the Conference.”

 7.3 Participation and inclusion

 In the lead up to Rio+20, the Government of Brazil hosted a series of Dialogue Days, which engaged civil society in considering ten major sustainable development issues, including oceans, food security, energy and water; all topics with action points in the outcome document. Recommendations from the Dialogue Days were included in discussions at the four High Level Round Tables held during Rio+20 that considered ways to move the outcomes of Rio+20 forward and featured a number of Heads of State.

As of 22 June, 45,763 passes were issued for access to the Riocentro Convention Center where Rio+20 were held.

Virtual participation in the Conference was also significant, as social media played a major role in raising awareness about the Conference and sustainable development. Since the UN Secretary‐General launched a global conversation on the Future We Want on November 2011, more than 50 million joined the conversation on various social media platforms.

On Twitter – in English – the #RioPlus20 hash tag was viewed more than one billion times. Other platforms widely used included Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest and Weibo. Posts were featured in the six UN official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Plus Portuguese language posts were widely viewed, with the Brazilian campaign for Rio+20 reaching more than 1 million people on Facebook.


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