22nd June, 2012
Following are the main outcomes from the 10-day UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which ended Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after a three-day summit.
A 53-page statement, The Future We Want, acknowledges that more than a billion people still live in extreme poverty and identifies environmental problems ranging from climate change, deforestation and pollution to desertification and depletion of freshwater.
“We… renew our commitment to sustainable development, and to ensure the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations,” according to the draft.
It renews commitment to “common but differentiated responsibilities,” a principle meaning that richer economies should shoulder more of the burden than poorer ones.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Designed to give high prominence to greener growth, these will replace the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after they expire in 2015. Fleshing out the objectives will be left to further negotiations.
For the first time, UN nations endorsed the concept of the green economy. But they warned that the notion should be flexible and pro-environment policies should not be used to erect trade barriers.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), set up in 1972, will be strengthened. Its governing council of 58 countries will be thrown open to all UN members. Notoriously strapped for cash, it will gain “secure, stable and increased financial resources.” But UNEP’s status has not been upgraded. It will remain an institution, not an agency like the World Health Organization (WHO), which has more clout.
The summit declared it was a priority to provide funding for sustainable development but mentioned no figures. A committee of 30 experts will identify financing needs, with the task of reporting back by 2014.
POPULATION GROWTH AND WOMEN
UN members pledged “to systematically consider population trends and projections” in planning strategies. Health systems will work “towards universal access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable modern methods of family planning, as this is essential for women’s health and advancing gender equality.”
Several hundred pledges on sustainable development were made during the conference by individual countries and corporations. They include a plan by the Maldives to set up the world’s biggest single marine reserve, where trawling will be banned. Eight multilateral development banks said they would earmark $175 billion to finance sustainable transport systems over the next decade.
Britain said all 1,800 firms listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market will be required to list their greenhouse-gas emissions from next April, in order to identify potential areas of saving through energy efficiency.