The failure to adopt an agreement on thematic issue policy recommendations of CSD 19 casts a shadow on the expectations for Rio+20. However, the tentative adoption of the 10YFP does provide some necessary momentum for Rio+20, a follow up to the Rio Earth Summit. Rio+20 (June 2012) has a two-fold agenda:
1) To develop a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication (GESDPE).
GESDPE seeks a harmonious marriage between the environment and the economy. In the short-term, GESDPE aims to find win-win strategies to build early confidence. In the long-term, it strives to support strategies such as green growth, which “emphasizes environmentally sustainable economic progress to foster low-carbon, socially inclusive development.”
Structural changes in economic governing institutions and technological advancements are necessary compliments for effective implementation of GESDPE. While earlier discussions have focused on reconciling trade-offs between the seemingly disparate agendas of economic growth and environmental wellbeing, in recent years the focus has shifted to recognizing the overlaps. Economic growth alone will not guarantee improved human wellbeing nor bolster the ability of nations to deal with environmental stresses on their own. GESDPE encompasses global issues ranging from climate change to biodiversity loss to the disruption of the nitrogen cycle.
2) To develop the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD).
IFSD aims to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social, environmental) into policy and implementation at all levels. This integration means that sustainable development be a consideration in developing legal frameworks and shape the way that policies are carried out day-to-day.
IFSD will require guidance from the scientific community for monitoring, accountability, and knowledge sharing. Doing so will not only eliminate overlap and duplication of efforts, but also bridge the gap between policymaking institutions and those responsible for implementation. The success of IFSD will rest in enhanced participation, especially of traditionally marginalized groups. Strengthening governmental capacity for sustainable development through proper establishment and enforcement of regulatory and incentive frameworks will also be a requisite for success.
As the world looks to Rio+20, we all look for stronger international cooperation and active participation for sustainable development. We have great expectations, for “if not us, then who? If not now, then when?”