March 12, 2012

Rio+20 Update: Preparations at the UN in NY

January 2012: Release of the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document

On January 10, 2012, the co-chairs and the United Nations Bureau of the Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) released the long awaited Rio+20 Zero Draft of the Outcome Document entitled “The Future We Want”.

These twenty pages serve as the basic negotiating text for the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio. Member states, major groups and other stakeholders had put forward 6000 pages of commentary on the November 2012 Compilation Document and this current draft is derived from those submissions. Mercy International Association joined this effort by contributing to and endorsing the CoNGO Committee on Sustainable Development submission paper to the Document.

In preparation for the initial discussion on the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document, Mercy Global Action (MGA) at the UN worked with other NGO colleagues to critique and assess the text.

Initial MGA impressions include the following:

• While it provides a framework for discussion, the draft lacks urgency and ambition overall with regard to sustainable development and poverty eradication.
• An integrated sustainable development vision that enables future sustainability of the planet and harmony with nature must be strengthen and reclaimed in the text.
• The real causes of food, land, energy, water and sanitation insecurities are not addressed.
• Strategies to address ecological, economic and development concerns remain market driven, with an overwhelming emphasis on private sector as the key investor and solver of the world’s problems. The draft fails to acknowledge the public good for life on the planet and the responsibility of the public sector to provide public goods over predominant profit based, private sector mode.
• The text neglects to address conflict of interest and the reigning in of transnational corporations.
• Finally, Earth is viewed in the document predominantly as commodity/natural capital.
(see resource list below for some analyses of the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document)

January 2012: Initial Discussions on the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document, UN at NY

As talks began at the UN, many Member States considered that the document lacked political ambition and effective action strategies. Many agreed that there is no need for new laws or actions. What is needed is the political will to implement the International Conventions and the 1992 Rio Plan of Action (Agenda 21). Major groups including NGOs, indigenous peoples, farmers, trade unionists and scientists were also given the floor during the opening days to make statements about the draft document. At the conclusion of the meeting, Members States and Major Groups were given until 29 February to submit their suggested changes to the Bureau.

As the Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the UN, Aine O’Connor rsm together with other NGO colleagues, continues visits to a number of UN Missions to lobby regarding the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document and the Rio+20 Outcome.

Lobbying talking points focus on six key areas of need:
1. To advance an ethical and inclusive sustainable development vision
2. To ensure robust participation of peoples in decision-making processes
3. To mandate corporate responsibility
4. To ensure food sovereignty and agro-ecological investment and practices
5. To mandate assessment of the social, economic, political and human and environmental impact of new and emerging technologies
6. To implement fair trade policies and practices

In support of this UN lobbying work, Mercy Global Action Coordinators have also written letters to their Heads of State and their UN Ambassadors and government official urging them to respond ambitiously, ethically and equitably and – above all – with strong political will to the Rio+20 Sustainable Development vision and commitment.

March 2012: Informal-Informals and the Third Intercessional Meeting of UNCSD, UN in NY

The next round of negotiations on the Zero Draft is slated for 19-23 March, 2012. These will be followed closely by a Third Intercessional Meeting of UNCSD, UN Secretariat to further the negotiations on 26-27 March. Áine O’Connor and MIA representatives will be present at these discussions and will continue to lobby Member States on Rio+20 outcome goals and strategies. A further update will be posted upon conclusion of these meetings.

For Your Further Reading:
The Zero Draft Document: The United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS), an inter-agency programme of the United Nations, presents an overview of the Zero Draft Outcome Document for your consideration
Zero Draft Impressions: Read Carbon Rangers, February 2012 for a host of articles on the Zero Draft
Zero Draft Outcome Analysis: In-depth analyses of the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document are available from the Stakeholder Forum   and in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin
Country Impressions of the Document: View initial responses of various countries to the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document
Future We Want - Major Groups comments on section III – V: View Major Groups comments on text

Messages to Áine O’Connor rsm - Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the UN

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