Rio 20, from inside
The “Rio Centro”, 20km away from Rio, gathers 50.000 participants speaking about sustainable development. A UN conference taking place every 10 years … What a responsibility towards Society, and the future generations! Everyone came with the desire to put the statement in the right direction. Yet as often, the positions were quickly radicalized, particularly between G8, G77, EU and BRICS.
Before the end, the media has already relayed pessimistic comments: speaking about Rio minus 20, a hackneyed agreement and brutal method. Indeed, the Brazilians, stung by the failure of the Copenhagen conference on climate, have done everything to come out with an agreement, even minimalist. The political authorities of the 190 nations had not yet arrived on Brazilian soil that the declaration was already officialised. Stupor among the negotiators…
What can we learn from Rio +20?
• On the form: a multilateral cooperation process, swarming but so slow, with hundreds of parallel thematic seminars, real concentration of knowledge and ideas from civil society, to feed the debate and demonstrate the creativity of the most committed to meet the challenges facing the planet.
• On the substance: Read before you criticize! The 50-page report is full of lessons, and a consensus of almost 190 countries! Available online, it addresses themes like green economy, the necessary institutions for a sustainable development, Human Rights, energy, labor conditions, measurement tools, forest, ocean, tourism, finance, cooperation, sustainable cities … without any real commitments or means of implementation. Some key messages: UNEP will not be promoted to the rank of UN organization, SD Objectives follow the Millennium Development Goals, and certain basic rights are still not acquired (especially for women).
• What is the legal force of the text? This is nothing other than a declaration, which opens the door to more structured work within the United Nations Institutions on approved topics.
Which role for standardization? ISO, supported by the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie), has been participating actively at Rio +20: organizing several “side events”, ISO emphasized the value of ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility as a tool available to all Society actors to engage in favor of SD. The power of its multi-stakeholder elaboration process has been of great help to Rio +20, and could influence future negotiations. In the text, a reference to social responsibility (see paragraph 46) and a first allusion to SD reporting are attempts to harmonize the accountability of any organization.
Rio, 21st of June 2012
Serge De Backer