Below is the speech delivered by Dr Yılmaz Akyüz, Chief Economist of the South Centre on the Sustainable Development Dialogue Roundtable on the Global Financial Crisis, UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, in Rio de Janeiro on 16 June 2012.

As seen over and again during recurrent financial crises in both developing and advanced economies (DEs and AEs), including the recent global crisis originating in the US and Europe, financial instability and boom-bust cycles undermine all three ingredients of sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental protection.

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Alejandro Chanona, guest blogger

The 1992 Rio Declaration identifies the “right to development” as the synthesis of existing human rights, such as the right to a proper life, to higher levels of health, education, housing, job and food. However, there is a big gap between states’ discourse in support of sustainable development and the well-being of the individual and the actions and commitments needed to achieve them.

The fundamental problem is that, since 1992, there was an attempt to implement an ideal model of development (sustainable development) without changing the dominant economic paradigm. Quite to the contrary: that paradigm became more deeply entrenched. The redefinition of global development since the 1987 Brundtland Report and the 1992 Earth Summit, which is the context for the Millennium Goals, coincided with the most speculative handling of the economy and its securitization, creating a contradiction that persists until today.

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Sunita Narain

The Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development is over. The conference declaration, titled “The Future We Want”, is a weak and meaningless document. It aims at the lowest common denominator consensus to say it all, but to say nothing consequential about how the world will move ahead to deal with the interlinked crises of economy and ecology. Is this the future we want or the future we dread?

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Martin Khor

Food security and sustainable agriculture was one of the most important topics at the recent Rio+20 Summit, for the simple reason that all of us have to eat to survive, and agriculture has to be ecologically sustainable for production to continue into the future.

While the negotiators were busily hammering out a quite satisfactory text on this topic in a small room, a more interesting discussion was taking place on Food and Nutrition Security in the huge plenary hall sitting 2,000 people.

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Alejandro Nadal

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 series.

Rio+20 came and went. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) could have been an important event. Instead it set new standards on how to make oneself irrelevant. One quick recipe: pretend you have never even heard of the global economic and financial crisis!

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Jennifer Clapp

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 and Spotlight G-20 series.

It has been encouraging to see the promotion of an environmentally sustainable approach to agriculture and food security endorsed by three recent high-profile summits: the Rio +20 Conference and the G20 Leaders’ Summit this month, and the G8 Summit last month. But they did not offer up anywhere near the kind of public financial support, or the regulatory framework, required to implement it.

In L’Aquila in 2009, the G8 governments, later supported by the G20, pledged some $22 billion for agriculture and food security initiatives in developing countries over the 2009-12 period. But the ongoing economic crisis has prompted rich country governments to significantly scale back what they are now willing to commit.

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Martin Khor

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 series.

The Rio+20 summit last week was disappointing to many, but it could still succeed through the mandated follow-up actions

Because the world is facing serious crises in the global environment and economy, much was expected of last week’s Rio+20 summit.

Thus there was deep public disappointment that the hundred heads of government and state who came to Rio de Janeiro were unable to take decisive actions.

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Lyuba Zarsky

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 series.

The Buddhists say enlightenment—the ability to see clearly and act appropriately– is to be found in the “middle path” between grasping and pushing away, expectation and aversion.

Attitudes about the likely outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference seem to fall into one camp or the other.  Some grasp towards hope that the “outcome document” produced via intense negotiations by 191 countries—what UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon called a “historic agreement”– will translate into a global action plan for a green economy.  Others, like the NGO leader Antonio Tujan Jr, find the agreement repulsive,  “an empty coffin” in which the sustainable development promises of the first Rio conference will be buried. Many grumbled even before it began that the Conference would be a waste of time, a global gabfest akin to fiddling while the planet burns.

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Elinor Ostrom, guest blogger

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 series.

Elinor Ostrom, a Nobel laureate in economics, was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Planet Under Pressure conference and Professor of Political Science and Senior Co-Research Director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. She passed away on June 12, 2012. This article was published that day by Project Syndicate.

Much is riding on the United Nations Rio+20 summit. Many are billing it as Plan A for Planet Earth and want leaders bound to a single international agreement to protect our life-support system and prevent a global humanitarian crisis.

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Kristen Sheeran, guest blogger

Part of the Triple Crisis Spotlight Rio+20 series.

In 2009, I published a book with Graciela Chichilnisky, Saving Kyoto (New Holland 2009), that argued passionately for preserving the economic and political architecture of the only international treaty on climate change the world has known – the Kyoto Protocol. The book was timely: the countdown to compliance with Kyoto’s mandated emissions targets had begun; the international community was gathering that year in Copenhagen to negotiate the next round of climate commitments; and there was hope that the Obama administration could usher the U.S. back to the negotiating table in earnest. More importantly from my perspective, however, was the growing realization that the window of opportunity for stabilizing the earth’s climate system was rapidly coming to a close. The urgency of the crisis demanded immediate, extensive emissions reductions. And I firmly believed that a coordinated international effort that mandated reductions from world’s largest emitters was the fairest and most efficient way to stave off climate disaster.

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