Members of the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee at opening of last session
Rio+20 Conference leaders opened the last session of preparatory negotiations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday, a week before the conference officially known as the UN Conference on Sustainable Development starts, aiming to accelerate talks in order to reach agreement on a political document for action on sustainable development.
“These last three days are going to be absolutely crucial for diplomats,” the Executive Coordinator of Rio+20, Brice Lalonde, reported the UN. “Delegations are going to be working day and night, dividing themselves into splintered groups to work more thoroughly on each issue, which is something that they have accepted to do only for the last few days.”
The Secretary-General of Rio+20, Sha Zukang said, “We need to look at the big picture… the whole world is watching and we simply cannot falter.” During a press conference, Mr. Sha has said that there is a growing expectation for a transformative outcome that leads to more jobs, improves living standards for all while preserving the planet.
The Conference head emphasized that the document must reflect the importance of the role of non-governmental organizations and private enterprises in achieving sustainable development, as well as the importance of transferring technology and providing capacity building for developing countries so they can shift towards a green economy. “Governments bear responsibility, but they cannot do it alone,” Mr. Sha added.
134 heads of state and government are registered to attend, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, Chief Executive Officers; as well as an estimated 20,000 participants from civil society, 5000 of them are Brazilian.
Among the leaders who have made commitments to attend are Russia's President Vladimir Putin, China's Premier Wen Jiabao, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and the leaders of Chile, France, Italy, India, Iran, Mexico, Pakistan, Portugal, the Philippines and Spain.
To date, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have communicated that they will not be in attendance. Mr. Sha has said that he does not think the absences will weaken the final document results, noting that these countries will be well represented at a high level.
The key goal of the Conference is to produce a focused political outcome document, meaning that implementation will be politically binding, not legally binding, for member states to follow thru with action. A compendium of voluntary agreements is also expected from governments, the private sector and civil society organizations.
These Prep meetings are the third and final negotiation sessions of Rio+20’s Preparatory Committee, which will continue thru Friday. According to the UN, the Committee’s various groups will discuss issues on the management of water, education, health, sustainable transport, desertification and climate change, among others.
Sha underlined that, "The true measure of success in Rio is how much action it inspires,"