First name(s) and family name(s) of the author(s) : European Environmental Bureau (EEB)- Proposal taken from « EBB’s Memorandum to the Polish Presidency »
Date of the proposal : Juillet 2011
The EU and its Member States should be represented at the Rio +20 conference at the highest political level and, in preparing its input on the green economy, the EU should adopt an approach to greening the economy based on full respect for ecological constraints and a willingness to show leadership amongst developed nations in moving towards living within those constraints.
In June 2012 Brazil will host the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, marking the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 UNCED conference (thus known as ‘Rio+20’). The objectives of Rio+20 will be to:
The two main themes of the Conference will be:
The Conference provides a great opportunity to push for a renewed political commitment to sustainable development at the highest level. The EU and its Member States should in principle be represented at the conference at the highest political level, i.e. Head of State or Prime Minister, Presidents of the EU Commission and Council. Economy and/or Finance Ministers should also be present. The issue of sustainable development cannot be left to Environment Ministers alone.
In preparing its input on the green economy, the EU should adopt an approach to greening the economy based on full respect for ecological constraints and a willingness to show leadership amongst developed nations in moving towards living within those constraints.
In late June 2011, the Commission issued a Communication on Rio+20 setting out the Commission’s initial views on potential concrete outcomes from the conference. It is understood that the EU’s position will be finalised in November 2011, i.e. during the Polish Presidency.
While the EEB welcomes many aspects of the Communication, one significant shortcoming is the almost complete lack of a reference to the importance of transparency, accountability and civil society involvement in national environmental governance. There is no reference to the importance of implementing Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, the Aarhus Convention or the UNEP Bali Guidelines on implementing Principle 10. Institutional governance appears to have been interpreted in a narrow way to refer only to the international institutional framework. While this is important and institutions such as UNEP should be strengthened both in terms of their legal status and resources, other key aspects of good governance have been more or less completely ignored.
On the other hand, there is a strong emphasis on business and the private sector. If this is to set the tone for Rio+20, it will be a serious step backwards for environmental democracy from the 1992 conference where at least Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration was adopted and laid the foundation for further developments such as Aarhus. The implication is that the green economy is supposed to be a top-down process which is in the hands of business and governments, and that no further efforts are needed to empower citizens.
In fact, Europe has a lot to offer the rest of the world through its experience with the development and implementation of the Aarhus Convention. The EU should use the Rio+20 Conference to support the promotion of environmental democracy globally, as this theme is
linked to both the main themes of the conference. This could be done through highlighting the possibility for non-European countries to accede to Aarhus, but also through other means, such as supporting the introduction of other regional conventions like Aarhus, negotiation of a global treaty on the topic and capacity building measures to support implementation of the 2010 UNEP Bali Guidelines on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration.
Along the same lines, the Conference should be used to promote the establishment of Ombudspersons for Future Generations as a low-cost accessible means of delivering access to justice for the public in matters relating to sustainable development.
The Rio+20 Conference should be used to strengthen the institutional and legal framework for sustainable development at the international level with respect to a number of areas, including the seas and oceans and the field of chemicals.
Even seas that are within national jurisdictions do not enjoy adequate legal protection, but the situation is much worse with respect to the high seas and oceans beyond national jurisdiction, where no appropriate legal framework has ever been designed to guarantee their protection from human activities. In 1992, heads of state and governments put high on the agenda two crucial environmental global challenges: climate and biodiversity. 20 years after the Earth Summit, a new deal for the seas and the oceans should be sealed. Such a treaty could regulate access to marine genetic resources.
A new international treaty on chemicals could establish a clear phase out objective for substances of very high concern (SVHC), establish an automatic export (and import) ban for the EU for all SVHC identified, establish a differentiated timeline for developing countries if necessary but mandatory obligation for ECHA / EU to share the chemicals data with third countries and address the issue of the cocktail effects with chemicals. New institutional structures may also be needed to facilitate global emissions trading.
EEB calls upon the Presidency to:
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