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
The latest issue of Courier features articles on the state of securing nuclear material as the final nuclear security summit approaches in early April. It also includes a special reprint of an article from the Center for Public Intregrity, "The Stalking Threat of Nuclear Terrorism." Alex Bellamy, an expert on R2P, discusses the progress made in "Acting on the Responsibility to Protect," and three students from a global scholars conference comment about climate change. Lastly, a brief look at the foundation's Iowa Student Global Leadership conference. The full Spring 2016 issue. PDF (2.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.
Communications Specialist: The Stanley Foundation seeks an experienced communications specialist to join its Communications Department.
Policy Program Associate, Nuclear Security: The Stanley Foundation seeks a program associate to join its Policy Programming Department.
|PARIS & BEYOND: COP21
Launching Global Climate Actions
The world recently looked to Paris for the most important global climate change negotiations for achieving a safer climate world: the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a helpful reference we have compiled this summary of the major work of the Stanley Foundation and its collaborators in an active global role during the past year preparing for this historic event…and the important continuing work ahead. More.
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.