Pacific Scoop

Brazilian leadership credited as Rio declaration endorsed

Iosefa Maiava, Head UN ESCAP Pacific Centre, says the Rio+20 side events are useful and welcomes the reaffirmation of Small Island Developing States in the declaration. Photo: SPREP/Pacific Climate Change

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Makereta Komai in Rio de Janeiro

More than 100 world leaders gathered in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro have put their stamp of approval on the new United Nations declaration on sustainable development, titled the “Future We Want”.

The approval came six hours after the plenary was convened to endorse the new global roadmap to eradicating poverty through sustainable means of development.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attributed the success of the Rio+20 talks to the skillful art of negotiations by her team and through the collective compromises shown by parties to reach a consensus outcome.

“The document we have today is not a setback from 1992 but a step forward”, President Rousseff said on Friday after the plenary .Rio + 50 logo

Endorsing the consensus decision with some reservations, the United States, Canada and Venezuela announced at the final plenary they will submit their specific concerns with the United Nations after the conference.

Non-binding ‘framework’
The 53-page Rio Declaration is not legally binding on all member states but is a framework of commitments for countries to work towards sustainable development.

For the Pacific, the new declaration is celebrated because it reflects most of the positions of the Pacific and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Ambassador Collin Beck of Solomon Islands said the Brazilian president steered the negotiations to its successful outcome.

“It means a lot in the sense that we were able to come out with an agreement. Prior to that, five days ago, it was not possible to see an outcome. During the negotiations only 37 percent of the text was agreed,” he said.

“That speaks of the divided interests in the negotiations.

“The Brazilian presidency took over the negotiations and tried to include everyone’s interests in the text. They did a good job because the text didn’t have to go to the leaders to negotiate, like what happened in climate change.”

Oceans included
Another important milestone in the declaration is the inclusion of “oceans”.

“For the first time this document is talking about oceans. Apart from that we had side events bringing together our leaders and ministers talking about SIDS,” said Ambassador Beck.

“This is a great achievement. When we look at the progress since 1992, we now have more leaders engaging on these issues.”

His views were endorsed by the head of UNESCAP Pacific Centre, Iosefa Maiava, who welcomed the reaffirmation of SIDS special case in the declaration.

“I get a sense from Pacific Island delegates and regional organisations that they are fairly happy with the outcomes.

“Of course the document does not provide the specific ideas, tools and ways and means to implement this except in areas of finances, technology and capacity building.

Side-events ‘useful’
But, Maiava said the side events during the two weeks conference have been very useful in discussing specific ideas and tools for strengthening sustainable development.

“In the case of oceans, there was a side event that discussed the importance of scientific studies to deal with degradation of the oceans. There was a side event on things like marine protected areas, and there were those on things like debt swap which is an interesting tool for helping protect the oceans.

“There was also side event on the use of economic concepts like perverse subsidies, an area highlighted by the Pacific in their outcomes. We may have to look at perverse subsidies as a way that we don’t over fish and over -exploit because these subsidies under price and under value the fish.”

On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Maiava said some of the concerns of SIDS are now incorporated into the post-2015 agenda.

“The SDGs are going to be different in the sense that the outcomes document refers to some new thematic areas like renewable energy, oceans and climate change.

“For Small Islands Developing States these kinds of issues are not clearly articulated in the MDGs because there are no targets. The other difference is the recognition of the need to balance the three pillars of sustainable development.

“It’s not very clear from the MDGs that there is clear balance between the use of economic instruments to bring about greater protection of the environment and to bring about greater social equity, which is what green economy is really about.

Leadership lauded
American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton applauded the Rio +20 declaration, especially the effective leadership shown by the host nation.

“Let’s be honest with what we could do. Our future is not guaranteed. The resources that we depend on, the oceans, the arable land and so on are under increasing pressure. The only viable development for the 21st century is sustainable development.

“We need to preserve our resources and protect our environment.”

Clinton said the outcomes document identified practical ways for sustainable development.

“While our views may differ, we cannot be boxed in by orthodoxy of the past. Whatever our beliefs, it must be based on science and on what works.”

She said a practical model for the future is to partner with the private sector to access funds in order to finance sustainable development projects.

“Seventy percent of the capital flow to developing countries came from Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). It is now only 13 per cent. While we are continuing assistance, the private sector has provided the balance of investment for sustainable development.

“We need to develop and expand partnership with the private sector, civil societies, faith-based organisations. We will be judged not by what we say or intend to do but by what we deliver for our people,” said Clinton, who represented President Barack Obama at the Rio+20 meeting.

EU and US criticised
Civil society groups from across the globe condemned world leaders – particularly from rich countries – for failing to live up to their promises of a new vision.

“Just like in climate negotiations, the European Union (EU) dresses up its own economic interests as ambitious new ideas when in reality they came without the political will to make the changes needed to save the people and planet,” said Asad Rehman, head of international climate, Friends of the Earth.

“It is hypocritical for the EU to claim it has no money to help deliver the global transformation needed, when EU politicians have found billions to bail out the banks and give tax breaks to dirty fossil fuel industries. It is time all governments learn that for these important meetings to succeed they need to put the interests of the people first not those of the polluters.

“It is despicably disingenuous that Hillary Clinton came here to be applauded while her negotiators were ordered to object to language that reflected the principles and hope of the first Earth Summit in Rio,” said Meena Raman of Third World Network.

“No thanks to the US, those principles are preserved in the final outcome here – but so is the attitude of inaction, delay and broken promises, to all of our peril.”

Makereta Komai is editor of Pacnews agency.

Coverage of Rio+20 is supported by a partnership between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme SPREP ( and the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme PACMAS ( and Conservation International Pacific Island.

Pacific Rio+20 team’s news blog

1 comment:


    […] Moreover, the reaffirmation in the outcome document of the SIDs as a special case for sustainable development—alongside the less developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries and Africa—is a notable outcome and was welcomed by the Pacific island delegates. […]