Conservation International Statement on the Outcome of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
- The following is a statement from
Conservation International (CI) President Dr. Russell
Mittermeier, on behalf of CI's delegation, regarding the outcomes
of the Rio+20 summit :
"As the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development comes
to a close, we leave this city with a positive spirit and expectant hope for the
future of people and our planet.
"While participants arrived with modest
expectations, viewed in the context of the Conference’s purpose and goals, Rio
+20 delivered on its stated intent in the negotiating halls and produced some
important and hopefully lasting results outside of the government delegates’
"Of greatest importance was the fact that for the first time
we saw both governments and businesses explicitly recognizing that natural
capital (biodiversity and ecosystem services) is the essential core element of
sustainable development and that healthy ecosystems must be the foundation of
human well-being. This is an extraordinary and transformative change in
mindset, as it finally moves the environment from a marginal issue to a central
component of future development strategies.
"Rio+20 will also be
remembered as a moment when 10 African nations, united under the Gaborone
Declaration, emerged as global leaders to take the first steps to
correct what has been up until now, a misguided development trajectory. They
were followed by 49 other nations, developed and developing alike, which
collectively underscored the importance of natural capital to development, in
supporting the Communiqué on Natural Capital of the World Bank with some 100
public, private and civil society partners.
"Additionally in Rio, the
role and voice of business and civil society moved from the margins to the
center, with the corporate world taking on a leadership role as a community
unlike anything we’ve seen before. Also unique to the summit, non government
organizations were included as active and valued participants - not mere
observers - in defining a new development agenda. The green economy was
embraced, not as a constraint on development, or an alternative to economic and
social wellbeing, but rather as a fundamental underpinning – an imperative for
the wealth and welfare of all generations and life on our precious
"Also of enormous importance was that, for the first time, the
official and unofficial side events at this huge conference – an estimated 6,000
in all, became the main event, thanks to the great advances in social networking
to amplify impact and ideas since Rio ‘92. The outcomes that were not explicitly
written in the outcome text paragraphs were, in many ways, the main
accomplishments of this meeting, and the sum total of all of those side events
will multiply to deliver action in years to come.
"Over and over we
heard global leaders strongly affirm that natural capital (biodiversity and
ecosystem services) is central to sustainable development, and the fact that
countries have now committed to implementing it through their national
accounting systems is a major consequence that we will likely view as historic
in years to come. We must now address the issues of perverse incentives and
subsidies and begin to account for negative externalities, or the hidden social
and environmental costs of business as usual on our balance sheets.
role of protected areas also emerged in a major way, especially in the marine
realm, where progress in the past few years has been little short of amazing.
Countries like Kiribati and the Cook Islands in the Pacific have created marine
protected areas of 410,000 km2 and 1 million km2 respectively – highlighting
these Small Island States’ globally important roles as Large Ocean Nations whose
ecosystem services we all need. Australia, long a leader, has increased its
protected areas coverage from 800,000 km2 to a staggering 3.1 million km2.
This has brought the blue end of the Green Economy concept into strong focus,
and must also be seen as a new development stimulated in part by the buildup to
Rio + 20.
"As always, the diverse voices of civil society were heard,
both dissenting and supporting, but now more than ever before because of the new
social media order. Their demand for action and commitment to hold leaders
accountable is vital and valued.
"This “Rio+20” summit will be regarded
as a moment when the global community -- as a collective – chose not to allow
the desire for a perfect political outcome to prevent progress and action and
when we recognized that prior agreements on climate, biodiversity and poverty
alleviation must simply be implemented with greater urgency. It has provided new
tools and a new affirmation that nature is an essential ingredient if
development is to be truly sustainable over the long term.
have set the table for the kind of development redesign we now need to follow.
How will we respond to it?
"The Future We Want depends on urgent, smart,
collective action. It is now up to all of us to get to work to deliver the
future we, our planet, and our children all need."