The world underperformed relatively as compared to the commitments in 1992 Summit held at the same place Rio de Janeiro. These delays are very destructive and dangerous, a concern for the delegates from the developing countries. Out of the total objectives settled at Earth Summit in 1992, the situation is impaired rather than improved in few goals.
The world reconvened at Rio after 20 years since the first Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Delegates negotiated commitments to spur economic growth without harming the environment. More than 132 countries’ delegates attended this historical hallmark conference and the heads of the state and governments leaded most of them, including French President Francois Hollande, South African President Jacob Zuma, Prime Ministers Dr Manmohan Singh of India and Wen Jiabao of China.
One of the primary objectives of this landmark conference was green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The draft entitled “The Future We Want” affirms the green economy in the context of sustainable development, but does not spell out the proper implementation mechanism. Only lip service is demonstrated on the consideration of the green economy. The draft reiterated on the second most important objective was Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development. It also reaffirmed that the Framework should be inclusive, transparent and effective. However, it overlooked how the institutional framework should find common ways related to global challenges to sustainable development.
The analysts at least are considering an achievement of reaffirming the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, as set out in Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration, although no progress has been made so for. Similarly, no prompt operationalization mechanism of commitments on Green Climate Fund was invigorated. Moreover, the technology transfers were linked to the capabilities of the developing countries, irrespective of the commitments in climate change negotiations.
The international negotiations and agreements are the wrong tools for climate change. It has proven difficult to develop cohesiveness and share responsibilities among the countries that are developing at different levels. The views evolve on regional and bilateral negotiations and agreements. Elinor Ostrom pointed out that “a single international agreement would be a grave mistake. We cannot rely on singular global policies to solve the problem of managing our common resources.” The same argument was extended by Sara Phillips. “It was the end for international climate negotiations and bilateral and international industry-based agreements would step up to fill the void”.
The international community stressed the level of commitments of the developed world to move the sustainable development agenda forward. The world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Currently, the global green house gas emissions of 50 billion tons have been committed to be brought down to 35 billion tons by 2030 and further down to 20 billion tons by 2050. It means that the 2050 target for average per capita emission is about 2 tons. The developed countries are one of the most polluters in this regards. Only the US’ share is 22 tons per capita and the EU emits about 10 tons per capita. The contribution from the developing countries, especially Pakistan, is very minimal. It was envisaged as a common voice from the developing countries. The role of the BRICS is very important in this regard. Instead of the common voice for the developing countries, the BRICS have been voicing in their block’s interest.
In spite of having low expectations, few environmentalists argue that “it would be a mistake to call Rio a failure”. They are of the view that the outcome document offers some compromise. The Pakistani delegation, which also provided inputs towards this document, included think tanks such as Sustainable Development Policy Institute and Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. The following key highlights of the document need to be mentioned:
—- Common vision on poverty eradication, which is the greatest challenge the world is facing and indispensable for sustainable development. Mainstreaming sustainable development as the integrated approach of economic, social and environmental aspects was recognised.
—- Renewing political commitments and reaffirming the Rio principles and past action plans
—- Recognising the role of stakeholders, active engagement of public and private sector, the corporate sustainability approach, planning and implementation of policies for sustainable development at all levels.
—- The sustainable development strategies at regional, national, sub-national and local levels were recognised.
—- To address the remaining gaps in implementation of the outcomes of major summits on sustainable development; a framework for action and follow-ups on important thematic areas were recognised.
—- Means of implementation include each country prioritising the sustainable development in allocation of resources (finance), technology transfer to developing countries, and the need for enhanced capacity building for sustainable development.
—- Reducing subsidies on fossil fuels around the world.
(The writer is an Islamabad-based economist)
This article was originally published at: Business Recorder
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.