Rio+20 = What?
Right now, thousands of government, business, and civil society representatives from around the world are meeting in Rio de Janeiro for one of the largest and most important UN summits in two decades. The Rio+20 Conference—successor to the first Rio “Earth Summit” held twenty years ago—will take place from June 20-22. The conference will address two major themes—a “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” and an “institutional framework for sustainable development”—as well as seven critical issues: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans, and natural disasters.
While the conference will take stock of the progress made since the first Earth Summit in 1992, according to the Brazilian government, success will be determined by new commitments and agreements. Actions such as the strengthening of the current UN Environmental Program and the creation of a business platform for the green economy are just some of the outcomes Brazil hopes to see. Most importantly, there is hope that the conference will leave a legacy akin to that of the first Earth Summit, whose documents and deliberations paved the way for treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. One such legacy may be the negotiation of Sustainable Development Goals, which will function along the lines of the Millennium Development Goals.
However, leading into the conference, the prevailing opinion is that Rio+20 runs the risk of becoming a missed opportunity. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that breakthroughs on the scale of those achieved in 1992 are unlikely. By the beginning of May, negotiations aimed at finalization of an action plan for the conference had been so “painfully slow” as to require an extra round of talks between May 29 and June 2. Even after that round, only 20 percent of the content of the document had been approved, meaning the rest of the document was negotiated by the Preparatory Committee immediately prior to the conference.
The stalemate on the action plan reflects a wider sense of disagreement and disillusionment on the part of the world’s governments. Though 130 heads of state have accepted their invitations to Rio+20, Obama is not likely to attend. Nor will his British and German counterparts be present. Participants in a global development podcast from The Guardian pointed to two major trends that differ from those seen in 1992: a likelihood that much of the work and progress will be done by NGOs and businesses rather than governments; and a North/South divide that sees developing countries investing more time and effort in the preparations than developed countries. In fact, there is evidence that developed countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia have “backtracked” on some of the commitments and principles negotiated in 1992. The lack of urgency and progress has been so troubling to some that they have said the conference is in need of being “saved.”
Yet some still hesitate to make premature conclusions of failure at Rio. While lack of government involvement (especially from developed countries) is disconcerting, some believe that “a world without clearly defined leaders is not a leaderless world”—that NGOs, businesses, and issue experts are just as likely to generate progress and commitments as political actors are. The Obama administration seems to place its faith in this “bottom up” approach, which would hopefully generate public pressure on governments to act on matters of sustainability policy. Indeed, the role of civil society and businesses in this year’s summit is much greater than in 1992, as is evidenced by many side events and initiatives, such as Rio+Social and the Rio Dialogues. The secretary-general of the upcoming summit has called Rio+20 “everyone’s conference,” meaning that it is everyone’s responsibility to achieve a more sustainable world and that everyone—politician, businessman, and citizen alike—has the potential to generate change.
—Audrey Williams, Stanley Foundation Policy and Outreach Intern
|Catherine Miller Explorer Awards: Where in the World Do You Want to Go?
Attention all full-time Muscatine Community School District and Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School K-12 teachers, for the 2016-2017 school year, the Stanley Foundation announces: Catherine Miller Explorer Awards. Enter the drawing.
The Summer 2016 issue of Courier features: “Their name is the Rohingya, a people disowned by their home government, cast away as stateless and homeless. Who will step up and help?” and “Peace at Risk in Burundi—Again.” The issue also includes “Strengthening Nuclear Security in a Post-Summit World,” “No Time to Lose, the 1.5 C Limit in the Paris Agreement,” and “Investigation U. 2016.” The full Summer 2016 issue. PDF (1.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.
|2016 International Women Authors Event
Loung Ung, bestselling author of a trilogy about the 1970s terror and atrocity of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, will be the featured speaker and honoree of the 2016 International Women Authors event on October 6 in Davenport, Iowa. The event is sponsored by the Stanley Foundation and its community partner, Women’s Connection of the Quad Cities.
|Reporting a Radiation Emergency
Journalists would play an indispensable role keeping the public informed in an emergency resulting in the release of radiation, either accidental or deliberate. But what do they need to do their job effectively? The following recommendations to authorities who would manage such an emergency were drafted by participants in the 2016 Rotterdam Nuclear Security Workshop for International Journalists.
Policy Program Associate, Climate Change: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program associate to join its Policy Programming Department.
Assistant to the President/CEO: This full-time position performs a variety of administrative functions for the president/CEO and serves as a liaison to foundation governance members.
Operations Administrative Specialist: This full-time position involves administrative support for the operations department at the Stanley Foundation.
Policy Program Associate, Nuclear Security: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program associate to join its Policy Programming Department.
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.
You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.
|Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.
Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.
|Nuclear Security Video
The Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.
|Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.