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People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) champions small-scale fisherfolk's rights to resources and their protection against privatization at the recent 30th session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held in Rome. (Photo by Jesus Tejel, from Fotopedia.)

International advocacy platform Rights for Sustainability (R4S) joined the “People’s March” on the “Global Day of Action” organized to mark the first day of formal negotiations by heads of states in Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, now being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As world leaders gather today to discuss a social, economic and environmental roadmap intended to address ecological degradation, they are holding a blueprint for the continued control and commodification of the world’s resources by a few for profits.

The temptation to adopt the MDG-approach to the challenge of sustainable development is easy to appreciate. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have proven useful in sparking public awareness on poverty and other key development concerns, and generating consensus around the goal of addressing them. Against the plethora of social, economic and environmental problems confronting the world’s peoples, it is but rational to identify priorities and focus efforts accordingly.

As you all know by now, the Rio+20 summit is happening next week. More than a hundred heads of state are expected to gather in Rio and many government delegations are heading for Rio next week to finalize the outcome document to be signed by world leaders on June 20-22.

Remarks made at the side event, “Right at Rio+20: A Rights-based Framework for Sustainable Development” organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Missions of Germany, Maldives and Norway with Ibon International, the Center for International Environmental Law and The Council of Canadians, in collaboration with the UNDG-HRM. April 27, 2012. UN Headquarters, New York

Water Debate at the World Water Forum

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.

Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in 2005, ‘Aid for Trade’ (AfT) has become the new catchphrase in international development to foster and promote trade and liberalization. Originating from the 2001 ‘Doha Development Round’, the WTO reasons: “Aid for Trade aims to help developing countries, particularly least developing countries, develop trade-related skills and infrastructure that is needed to implement and benefit from WTO agreements and to expand their trade”[i]. As such, the framework is complementing WTO trade reform and market opening by focusing on capacity building, particularly on trade policy and regulation and improving trade-related infrastructure to ease supply side bottlenecks.

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