Rio summit keeps African hopes alive

Monday, July 23, 2012

African expectations were high for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the biggest UN summit ever. The conference, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June, was “too important to fail,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the outset. Under the theme of “The Future We Want,” many of the 100 heads of state and more than 40,000 participants demanded ambitious and measurable outcomes to address sustainability issues such as the “green economy,” climate change and so on. Yet when it was over, the “Rio+20” summit left a heated debate over whether those goals had been met.

For African delegates, the general view was that while the continent did not come away with a basketful of goodies, it also did not leave with empty hands. Izabella Teixeira, Brazil’s environment minister, noted that not everyone was going to be happy with the result. Negotiating with 193 nations to agree on consensus outcomes would inevitably be a grinding task, she said. Some arguments will prevail, some will not.

Africa’s preparations for Rio+20 began with a meeting of its environment ministers in Ethiopia in October 2011. There they hammered out Africa’s consensus statement. Africa anchored its case on two broad principles: that the continent is making serious efforts towards sustainable development and that the world should support those efforts.

The 14-page statement presented many positions, including a call for a stronger, independent and well financed UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which is based in Nairobi, Kenya. UNEP should have “secure, stable, additional and predictable financing to fulfil its mandate,” argued the African statement. At Rio, delegates agreed that the programme needs bolstering.

Source: Afrik-News (link opens in a new window)