Contribution of IBON International to the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document for Rio+20
Posted on 1 November 2011
Today the world finds itself far off track in realizing the vision of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Global economic expansion continues to severely strain the environment. Humanity’s ecological footprint now exceeds the planet’s biocapacity by over 50%, and three of nine planetary boundaries that define the safe operating space for human life on Earth have been breached.
And the costs and benefits generated by that economic expansion are shared very unequally. In 1990, the ratio of the per capita income in the richest 20 countries to that in the poorest 20 was $42 to one dollar; in 2005, it was $59 to one dollar. One out of three persons today or about 1.75 billion people live in acute deprivation in terms of health, education and material standard of living. There are 80 million more people living in income poverty in 2005 compared to 1981 if the handful of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, Chima, South Africa) economies are excluded. And close to a billion people do not even have the very basic condition for human existence, that is adequate food.
The gravity of the multiple crises confronting the world today -- not the least of which is the climate crisis -- is forcing people to re-examine fundamentals. People’s values and lifestyles, their conceptions of the good life, social relations as well as the relationship of man with nature – all these are being reconsidered and reimagined. To put it bluntly, there is no real development possible unless it transcends the present economic and social system that engender these crises.
Significance of Rio+20
Rio+20 in 2012 thus comes at an opportune time, when the world’s states and peoples are obliged to rethink alternatives to the current development model with its ever-increasing failures. It presents opportunities to push urgently and comprehensively the agenda for sustainable development.
The 2012 UNCSD must deliver and not backtrack on the promises and commitments made in Rio twenty years ago. Rio+20 must reaffirm and operationalize the principles expressed in the 1992 Rio Declaration including the polluter pays principle; the precautionary principle; the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and capability; and Principle 10 on people’s participation and access to information and justice. Rio+20 should come out with an honest appraisal of
weaknesses in the implementation of Agenda 21, aim for ambitious, timebound and concrete goals, and establish mechanisms for a just transition to genuine sustainable development.
The best way to re-affirm the Rio principles is to promote a rights-based approach to sustainable development in response to the grave economic, social and environmental crises confronting the world today. A rights-based approach to sustainable development is founded on the notion that improving the well-being of present and future generations is a matter of empowerment, equity and justice. It lays down a clear mandate for public officials to take action and provides conditions for rights claimants to hold duty bearers accountable, including governments, intergovernmental organizations, donors, international financial institutions, transnational corporations, international NGOs and so on.
The duty of states and the