Countries fail to agree on draft text for sustainable development goals and definition of key objectives including green economy
The Rio+ 20 Earth summit could collapse after countries failed to agree on acceptable language just two weeks before 120 world leaders arrive at the biggest UN summit ever organised, WWF warned on Wednesday.
An extra week given over to the UN’s preparatory negotiations in New York fell into disarray over the weekend as talks aimed to bring countries together to set a new path for sustainable development splintered into 19 separate dialogues with major internal disagreements on the processes to be followed.
“We are facing two likely scenarios – an agreement so weak it is meaningless, or complete collapse. Neither of these options would give the world what it needs. Country positions are still too entrenched and too far apart to provide a meaningful draft agreement for approval by an expected 120 heads of state”, said WWF director general Jim Leape.
Countries are not being asked by the UN to legally commit themselves to anything, but only to sign up to an aspirational “roadmap” contained in a document called “the future we want” and to a commitment to the so-called ‘green economy’ of jobs generated from industries such as renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is hoped that they will also agree to introduce by 2015 a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) similar in ambition to the millennium development goals which covered areas like HIV reduction and clean water provision. The SDGs could cover areas such as energy, water and food.
However, in a repeat of battles played out in global climate and trade talks, they have fought bitterly over every comma and phrase in the prepartory meetings and in particular are still deeply divided over the definition and scope of the phrase “green economy”. They are now expected to take several years to identify, formulate and agree on the goals.
According to both WWF and Malaysia-based NGO Third World Network, the most recent draft text put forward in New York was a “significant weakening” of previous drafts, particularly in the areas of valuing natural wealth and ocean protection.