September 11, 2012

Sharing the Rio+20 Experience

Mercy Global Action and Presentation Justice Network co-organised a meeting at McAuley Centre Baggot Street on 28th August, 2012. The purpose of the meeting was to report back on the Rio + 20 Conference and to plan for continued action on the issues arising. More than 30 people attended, representing many religious Congregations in Ireland, Sisters of Mercy, Presentation Sisters, Trocaire, Irish Sisters of Charity, Columban Missionaries, CORI, Spiritans, Daughter of Wisdom and Edmund Rice Foundation.

Catherine Gibbons rsm and Betty Lacey, intern researchers with MIA ~Global Action led the group through a reflection process – Moment of Quiet.

Aine O Connor rsm and MIA Global Action representative at the UN spoke about Mercy experience of lobbying at the conference and at national level to support this advocacy. She thanked Sisters of Mercy who were involved in this lobbying and who played a vital part with other civil society groups in influencing the Rio+20 negotiations.
 Aine outlined the four major areas that MIA Global Action lobbied on in Rio and the outcomes of the lobbying.

Aine O Connor, MIA Global Action Representative at the United Nations

  • • Reaffirmation of the Rio Principles and commitment to an equitable and sustainable future for all peoples and Earth
  • • Reaffirmation of a rights based commitment to sustainable development and, in particular, reaffirmation of the human right to water and sanitation
  • • Commitment to the need for mining regulation and recognition of the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples for mining activities impacting their land, territories and resources
  • • Reining in of transnational corporations and ensuring their accountability and transparency to enable sustainable and equitable development for all in harmony with nature and within our planetary boundaries.

A full report on the impact of Mercy lobbying can be accessed here.

Susan De Guide rsm, Nora Burke rsm and Maura O Connell PBVM lobbied the Irish government and received a very favourable response. The official delegation to Rio + 20 were sympathetic to most of the issues put forward by the Sisters, particularly the gender issue. Susan and Maureen continued to be in contact with the delegation while they were at Rio and the officials were very pleased to listen and were influenced by their inputs.

Selina Donnelly, Policy Officer for Trocaire represented the organisation at the Rio Conference. Trocaire in common with Mercy and the Presentations had lobbied on the Rio principles and the rights based approach. They had also lobbied on the interlinked global challenges of poverty eradication, environmental sustainability, economic equity, gender inequality and climate change. One of the outcomes of Rio+ 20 is that a new process is being put in place to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Selina Donnelly, Policy Officer, Trocaire

A major concern for Trocaire is that this process of developing these SDGs would be separated from the Millenium Development Goal process (MDGs) distracting from the full implementation of the MDGs. Trocaire argued that these processes should be merged; that civil society should be included in their development, that they should be universally applicable and that they should have a strong rights focus.

Trocaire’s policy input paper on Rio + 20 can be found here.

Groups were then formed to discuss the following questions:-

a) What issues need to be taken forward from the Presentations
b) Where do we need to take them and how?

Issues to be taken forward

  • • Simplify language
  • • Uncover power of Trans National Corporations
  • • Follow through and implementation
  • • Educate self and civil society
  • • Collaborate with Trocaire on Climate Change and Food Security
  • • Sustainable Development Goals/Millenium Development Goals – follow up
  • • Rights of Nature
  • • Rights Based Approach to Sustainable Development
  • • Water

Where to take them

  • • Common group/networks
  • • Take resources of groups like Trocaire to groups/families etc.
  • • Promote awareness in parishes e.g. October 12th Care of Earth
  • • Is there one issue – international faith based groups could focus on
  • • Start with ourselves – buying locally – impact policy
  • • Raise awareness of Bishops, Clergy – write letters etc.
  • • Practical actions – e.g. eat less meat
  • • Participate with existing networks – e.g. Dochas

Carmel Bracken rsm rounded off the programme with a song she had written entitled – There is a dream

Carmel Bracken rsm, member of MIA Global Action working group on Cosmology/Eco Justice

Messages to: Mary Purcell - Assistant director Mercy Global Action

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