Deliver in Rio, ACT asks world leaders

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gaps in leadership, ambition and commitment threaten to hamper the Rio+20 talks in Brazil next week, ACT Alliance is warning, a day before the final pre-summit negotiations begins.

Tomorrow sees the start of the last round of negotiations taking place before heads of state and governments descend on Rio de Janeiro for the talks, also known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD).

The preparatory meeting will focus on the Rio+20 outcome document, ‘The Future We Want’, which ACT hopes will provide an strategy to help the world grow in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way that lifts people out of poverty.

However, with over three quarters of the text yet to be agreed, and with time now limited, the forecast is gloomy, ACT says. Decisive action must be taken to end the stalemate between negotiating parties and rebuild trust between countries.

ACT is asking world leaders to find the political will to conclude negotiations on ‘The Future We Want’ with bold and meaningful decisions that the world – and particularly its poorest citizens – urgently needs.

“There is every reason to be concerned that the governments of the world will not resolve the pressing issues facing the earth in Rio, but only come up with a jaded compromise to save the faces of the leaders present,” ACT Alliance General Secretary, John Nduna, said.

“The triple gaps in leadership, ambition and commitment that exist in current major multilateral processes, particularly in climate change and sustainable negotiations, are disconcerting. Even more worrisome is the lack of visible and genuine efforts to address the issues at hand, as if negotiators have forgotten how millions of people in the world suffer,” he added.

ACT believes that if countries are to develop in a way that balances the three pillars of sustainability – social, ecological and economic – then leaders must give higher priority to respecting environmental boundaries and fulfilling human rights.

With inequalities within and between countries rapidly growing, and with greenhouse gas emissions reaching critical levels, there is an urgent need for better regulation of the private sector and a stronger push towards low carbon development strategies.

Rio+20 must also ensure any sustainable development goals commit countries to making equitable and holistic targets that support, rather than undermine, the existing UN process for finding a new development framework for after the Millennium Development Goals’ 2015 deadline.

Another important step towards bringing the negotiations back on track is affirming the key principles of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities”, in which developed countries have the highest responsibility for tackling climate change and supporting sustainable development.

“The world’s biggest economies, particularly the US and EU, have a unique opportunity to show leadership in these last days before Rio+20 by acknowledging that they are the ones who need to change,” Nduna said.

ACT Alliance is in Rio de Janeiro with a delegation of over 70 people, participating as NGO observers to the UNCSD and as civil society activists in the Rio+20 Peoples’ Summit, particularly in the Religions for Rights area.

About ACT Alliance

ACT Alliance is a network of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations working in 145 countries. We work together for positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice, through humanitarian, development and advocacy work.

For further information contact

Suvi Virkkunen, Senior Advocacy Officer: +41 79 963 53 33 or Isaiah Toroitich, Climate Change Policy and Advocacy Officer: +41 79 825 78 99.