Cause for Hope, Call for Urgency at Rio+20 Summit


Statement From Conservation International President Dr. Russell Mittermeier on Current Outcome Text of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development

This statement is also available:

from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

In Rio at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, Conservation International is hopeful to see governments, civil society and the private sector showing a commitment to innovation, collaboration and to action in both formal discussions of the text and through numerous side events and discussions.

We have carefully followed negotiations and reviewed the agreement and welcome the progress made in the current version of the Rio +20 outcome text on the Future We Want. This groundwork will allow for concrete and immediate action after the summit, which we appeal to all stakeholders to undertake with urgency.  Broad, formal support for green economies as a means of achieving sustainable development goals by catalyzing investment in nature’s capital to enhance developing country growth, while conserving vital ecosystems holds transformative potential.  With this framework, Nations now have the responsibility to proceed, particularly at the national level, to design and implement policies that will set the base for a robust transition to social, economic and environmental security.

Investments and concrete actions commensurate with this bold transition are urgently needed.  We must move from dialogue to action implement the suite of international agreements on sustainable development, framed under the Rio Conventions. We remain hopeful that countries will further strengthen the specific outcomes of this Conference, including explicit reference to incorporating the value of natural capital — the goods and services provided by healthy ecosystems and biodiversity — into our economies and our development decisions.

We applaud the bold, visionary leadership of 10 African nations that forged the Gaborone Declaration, joining with Botswana in the road to Rio+20 to commit to sustainable development underpinned by natural capital, with concrete measures of natural capital accounting, sustainable agriculture, responsible mining, social welfare funds and the protection of natural ecosystems and biodiversity in extensive, effective protected area networks and conservation measures.

Conservation International additionally welcomes countries ‘recognition that, in addition to predictable and sustained public funding, diverse sources of financing and partnerships among private and public entities alike are essential for success.

We applaud the commitment to corporate environmental and social integrity, and to incorporating nature in corporate accounting by numerous global business leaders — from those adopting TEEB for responsible business in Brazil and across the globe to those voicing their support for the Gaborone Declaration and increasing the global movement from an initial 10 African nations to 56 nations and 87 corporations supporting WAVES and the Communiqué on Natural Capital Accounting with the World Bank and other partners.

We also welcome the agreement to launch a process on Sustainable Development Goals and to establish a high-level Forum to promote sustainable development governance as important and positive steps forward. We call for strengthening of the UN Environment Programme’s functions and its new, universal membership.

With regard to oceans, Conservation International is encouraged by the international community’s expressed commitment to to protect, and restore, the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintain their biodiversity and, to deliver on social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development. 

Particularly notable in the ocean realm are the enormous marine conservation and sustainable development commitments made by the nations of the Pacific Oceanscape, notably Kiribati, Cook Islands and Tokelau to create protected areas, sustain fisheries, and adapt to climate challenges. The protected area commitments of these nations are at a level far beyond anything previously imagined, contribute substantially to achieving target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.  Indeed, these nations should no longer be considered small island states, but rather large ocean nations that are changing the face of marine conservation.

We also welcome clear support in Rio for all strategic issues included in the 20 Aichi targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Conservation International has always been and remains an ardent supporter and partner in the UN Conventions addressing the broad range of environmental and development issues. We believe that Rio+20 represents not just an anniversary but a renewed commitment to sustainable development at the global scale, armed with the knowledge of how to achieve it and of the genuine urgency of this common goal.

– Dr. Russell Mittermeier
Conservation International President