Spotlight Rio+20: Sustainable Development As An Answer To Economic And Financial Crises

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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Spotlight G-20 & Rio+20: Challenges of sustainable development: beyond the G20 and Rio +20 Summits

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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Spotlight G-20 & Rio+20: Challenges of sustainable development: beyond the G20 and Rio +20 Summits

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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Spotlight Rio+20: not plus or minus, just 20

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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Global Trend: Food issues in the Rio+20 spotlight

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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Spotlight G-20 & Rio+20: Not Enough: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the Three Summits

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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Spotlight G-20 & Rio+20: Not Enough: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the Three Summits

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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Spotlight Rio+20: Follow up is key after Rio+20

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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Spotlight Rio+20: A Hard Slog Towards Sustainability

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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