“There is no energy here. It’s an empty shell”: Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme.
“I am disappointed in the process, and I am not alone”: Rachel Kyte, vice-president for sustainable development at the World Bank. “There is a terrible lack of leadership”: Fabio Feldmann, veteran Brazilian environmentalist and personal representative of the Brazilian president.
The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro this week is not looking promising. The conference will be devoid of the world leaders who attended its predecessor, 20 years ago. And there are no headline-grabbing treaties to sign. Its final declaration will not be binding to anyone. The main outcome will probably be to launch a set of “sustainable development goals” on issues like protecting forests, fisheries and water supplies.
Delegates here bemoan that most environmental indicators have gone in the wrong direction since the original Earth Summit, yet they are reaching for the same solutions.
In 1992, developing countries agreed commitments on protecting biodiversity and forests in return for promises of a “green fund” of development aid.
They got about $5 billion. This time, the Brazilian hosts are calling for a $30 billion “global fund for sustainable development”, and want the rich world to set aside its short-term economic concerns and cough up. “We cannot be held hostage to financial crisis in rich countries,” says Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, environment director at Brazil’s Ministry of External Affairs.