Rio deal on draft paper a big step forward, says US

Posted: June 21, 2012 in Politics/Current issues


Environmental activists march during a demonstration against the forest code and the Belo Monte Hydroelectric plant construction on June 18, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. Negotiators are nearing a deal on fixing the environment problems and easing poverty ahead of the Rio+20 summit, Brazil says. AFP


Rio deal on draft paper a big step forward, says US

A US envoy hailed as a “strong step forward” the agreement reached by UN member states on a draft document slated to be endorsed by world leaders at the Rio+20 summit.

After haggling that went deep into the night, delegates attending the UN conference on sustainable development agreed a 53-page statement designed to serve as a blueprint for a greener world for the next decade and beyond.

It spells out steps for tackling the planet’s many environmental ills and lifting billions out of poverty through policies that nurture rather than squander natural resources.

“I think it was a good strong step forward,” US Climate Change Envoy Todd Stern told reporters. “I think the outcome that we finished today will help advance goals in this area.”

He highlighted the document’s reference to the need to strengthen the role of the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Program, including through “secure, adequate and increased financial resources.”

Stern said the draft document slated to be formally endorsed by world leaders Friday was unlikely to be altered. “I believe this document is done,” he added, pointing out that host country Brazil, which shepherded the negotiations, had “no plan or intention to let the document open up.”

Stern also rejected charges by some NGOs that the US delegation had been trying to block progress toward a deal to protect marine diversity on the high seas.

“We are very committed to progress with respect to oceans. there is good language, paragraphs in this outcome document that involves sustainable fisheries,” Stern said. “So the US is not seeking to block progress, just the opposite.”

The Rio+20 summit, coming 20 years after the first Earth Summit, opened yesterday with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and some 100 other world leaders due to take part.

But US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron will not attend.

The high-profile event comes 20 years after Rio’s first Earth Summit, when nations vowed to roll back climate change, desertification and species loss.

Seal deal

Some 191 speakers are expected to take the floor until Friday, when leaders will close the 10-day UN conference by giving their seal of approval to the 53-page document.
Not everyone was upbeat about the hard-fought draft.

“Nobody in that room adopting the text was happy. That’s how weak it is. And they all knew,” EU commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard said on Twitter.


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