So many leaders,
such little leadership
We are missing the point,
and opportunity, of Rio
21 June 2012
Be PaperSmart: Read Outreach online
pic: World Bank
1 Was history truly made in Rio this week
2 Does sustainable development management require a new form of leadership
3 So many leaders, such little leadership
4 A speech for humanity at Rio+20
5 Sustainable construction: Who should take the lead
6 Business leadership in sustaining the Earth’s natural resources
7 Profile - Ambassador Dr. Josephine Ojiambo
8 We are missing the point, and opportunity, of Rio
9 New global sustainable public procurement initiative harnesses power of public
spending to fast-track green economy transition
10 Leadership: Creating a women farmers’ organisation in Jordan
11 British Council International Delegates hear the UK perspective from Nick Clegg
New book: Only One Earth
12 ECO corner - Statement by NGOs Major Group at the high-level
plenary session – 20th June
13 Rio+20 side event calendar
14 Reflections from Rio+20
pic: Christopher Rose
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World Future Council
The International Geosphere-
World Farmers Organisation
Was history truly made in Rio this week
Daniel Perell and May Akale
Bahá'í International Community
After months of intensive
negotiations, an outcome
document on The Future We Want
has been successfully negotiated
and agreed upon by all Member
States. As the anticipation grew
in the days leading up to the
High Level Segment, emotions
ran high, and there was growing
concern over whether there
would be an agreed outcome from
And then, it happened. With a minimum of fanfare and
celebration, the conference host convened a meeting of
the Member States and civil society and announced that
the multilateral negotiation process had achieved what just
hours before seemed an elusive goal – agreement on the
negotiated text. The announcement was met with tentative
applause and some hesitation. But as the Member States
arose to speak, one after another, they acknowledged
the stewardship of the Brazilian government, and its
diplomatic ability to successfully facilitate the building of
consensus and the acceptance of compromise. All Member
Blocs and States that spoke acknowledged that there were
shortcomings with the document, that it lacked certain
elements that they considered important, and that it was
not as ambitious as they had hoped; yet, despite that, they
all gravitated to the same final and inevitable conclusion
that, given the complexity of the issues and the extreme
diversity of opinions, the final text was the best possible
outcome to satisfy all the participants in the process. It was
the best we could do at this moment in history.
We can acknowledge the complexity of the process and
express concern about the elements that did not make
it into the final text. But let there be no doubt that the
negotiated text is not the final stop in a lengthy journey
towards planetary justice. It is another milestone and an
important one. The leadership exercised by each of the
Member States is a political leadership, and the task
and true challenge now turns to all to give life to the
concepts outlined and referenced in the document. The
outcome document provides a framework within which
all stakeholders will operate, lending their capacity,
innovation, energy and inspiration to ensure that the
vision and action resulting from implementing the ideas
in the document are faithfully achieved. Our actions need
not be limited to the negotiated text. Additional activities
and actions, when aligned with the vision and thoughtfully
implemented, can complement and enrich the learning and
work of others. Underlying this effort is an understanding
that everyone has a role to play, and a moral obligation to
fulfill his or her responsibility to advance, however humbly,
the progress of humanity as a whole.
As we have witnessed, the decision by Member States to
approve the Outcome Document was not easily achieved.
But now, the true leadership challenge begins. There
are choices to be made, the first of which is whether to
support this fragile statement of unity and to place our
energies behind it, to uphold it, and to work towards its
fulfillment, or to work towards its demise. This historic
moment is not limited to a political decision, no matter
how important that decision is. The reality of the challenge
that lies before everyone now, is to assume the full moral
responsibility to uphold the decision and work towards its
successful fulfillment. As we do, we will gain experience,
build capacity, and gradually enhance our ability to refine
our action as we strive towards building the future we
aspire to. This now becomes our collective challenge. The
time for clear and decisive moral leadership rests with all
of us as we strive to build the future we need.
pic: Rodrigo Soldon
Does sustainable development management
require a new form of leadership
Independent Scholar and the Green Impresario
Act I, Scene 1 - Pavilion 3, Riocentro
The delegates are huddling, caucusing, shaking their heads
and wringing their hands. They have become wordsmiths
focused on text and have largely forgotten the con-texts of the
ordinary people in their countries striving for sustainability
and wellbeing. Building consensus in the multilateral
system is severely strained. Negotiators are now turning
their attention to the care and feeding of their ministers,
premiers and presidents so the level of distraction is
mounting. Negotiators are stretched, frustrated and sleep
deprived. The translation into French was not working for
one delegate when Brazil made their announcement about
the Outcome Document and the dismay on his face as he
sought to understand was gut wrenching.
Act I, Scene 2 - Major Groups Side Event, Pavilion T
Antonio Herman Benjamin, a Brazilian high court judge, in
a refreshingly frank presentation on the ethical dimensions
of global governance reminded his audience that:
“Rio+20 is costing the Brazilian government $250 million
in direct expenses. If Rio+20 fails, he told us, it will be on
the backs of the poor people of Brazil!”
How many schools, roads and health clinics could have
been built for this sum What sacrifices has Brazil had
to make to give the world community an opportunity
to agree on a new paradigm and a transitional process
towards sustainable development
Act II, Scene 1 - On the Rio+20 shuttle bus to Riocentro.
“Do you have a word for sustainable development in your
The young man from southern Africa scratches his
head and gazes into the distance trying to recall. “Well
we don’t have an exact word but we do have a word for
conservation. The language is hard for us; we don’t really
know what ‘green jobs’ means. That is why our countries
often want to stick to language, which has been defined.
Do we have to stop mining coal and create other jobs in
energy technologies we don’t yet have”
An Eastern European delegate also ponders how to say
sustainable development in her language. “Sustainable is
not hard, it is the same concept, but development – we
have at least five different words for that”, she explains
and then in frustration cries “ we are not getting any of
our priorities in the text. The ministers have demanded a
meeting with the Brazilian delegate”.
“Who is playing a leadership role in this Rio+20 Conference”
“No one!” the south Asian lawyer responds, “There is an
absolute crisis of leadership here. I was at Rio 20 years
ago. There was real optimism then”.
“That question is too hard”, a young NGO representative adds.
“What are the qualities that would be required for someone
to truly lead the world community toward sustainability”
One official delegate from the G77 ventures, “They need
to 1) be a consensus builder; 2) have the highest integrity;
and 3) have self-confidence and clear purpose”.
A cheerful IGO representative interjects, “such a leader
has to stick to his or her principles. They cannot say that
water or food security is critically important and then
allow its deletion from the text”.
Act III, Scene 1
Tsunami, desertification, coral bleaching, ocean
acidification, biodiversity and cultural diversity loss (150
species every day), global warming, a third of world food
production lost to wastage, global financial and social
crises, 1 billion people in extreme poverty and 2 billion
tottering, growing inequality. The Future We Do Not Want.
Act IV, Scene 1
Those who would aspire to guide the planet towards
sustainability are new kinds of leaders. They work with
compassion to restore the broken trust among nations
and peoples and inspire by example. These leaders are
enthusiastic and passionate, always listening with respect
for others, seeking out the best ideas for sustainability
and helping communities to enact them.
Sustainable development requires leaders with a holistic
vision of inclusive planetary prosperity, who understand
their complex mandate: guiding the integration of the
three dimensions of sustainability – economic, social
and environmental. These leaders accept ambiguity and
uncertainty, yet maintain a steadfast clarity of purpose
working for poverty eradication. Their priority is to
harness the extensive reservoir of scientific and practical
knowledge and ensure its availability for practical
application in communities that will benefit.
Their intuitive understanding of the structural and
systemic reasons for inequality will lead them to create
a transitional accounting system, where the sustainable
actions of the privileged to reduce their harmful impacts
on our environment can be easily monetised and
transferred to those having the highest needs.
These new leaders are the planetary patriots!.
So many leaders, such little leadership
World Future Council
Long billed as a once-in-a-generation
chance to advance the cause of
sustainable development, Rio+20 is
in danger of becoming a re-run of
Copenhagen and satisfying no-one if
we do not see some swift and decisive
leadership. While UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon last week entreated heads
of state that the Earth Summit was
“too important to fail”, there is a
more than a little despair infecting
the corridors and courtyards of
Riocentro at the current text’s dearth
While most environmental indicators have steadily
worsened since the original Earth Summit, delegates have
reached for the same failed solutions and often reverted
to the wording of previous agreements. There has been
a chronic lack of official ambition and many NGOs have
stated that the current outcome is not even close to being
worthy of the title ‘The Future We Want’.
But this need not be the case. While there will be no
headline-grabbing treaties to sign at Rio+20 there have been
several new and promising proposals that have galvanised
widespread enthusiasm from civil society, including the
planned Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Another innovative proposal is the High-Level Representative
for Future Generations which, until very recently, was one of
the few entirely new proposals still on the table. When Brazil
released their compromise text last Sunday, Ambassador
Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Executive Secretary of
Brazil's National Commission for Rio+20, said it would
"make all delegates a bit happy, and a bit unhappy".
But it has certainly made a lot of people very unhappy
indeed! The High-Level Representative for Sustainable
Development and Future Generations had been scrubbed
from the text. The removal of this proposal effectively
relegates the interests of youth and future generations to
the side-lines, continuing their lack of representation in
decision-making about their future.
This could still be an enduring legacy of the Rio+20
Summit if only some ambition were shown, embedding
long-termism into the UN system and addressing current
implementation gaps by helping governments and UN
bodies to work together on long-term planning and the
sharing of best practice. The High-level Representative
would be tasked with bringing sustainable development,
often separate from core policy issues, into the heart of
But for bold solutions to be agreed upon you also need bold
leadership and that, so far, has been in perilously short supply.
Veteran environmentalist Fabio Feldmann, a personal
representative of the Brazilian president, has complained
of “a terrible lack of leadership" but the host country
could itself have shown far more ambition. It has often
seemed that the Brazilians were more interested in
‘expediency’ rather than ambition, closing down debate,
refusing to reintroduce any language that does not have
full consensus and fiercely closing the text when they felt
an adequate ‘package’ had been reached.
It has been noted that now is a difficult time for
governments to be signing agreements. This is a year of
transition in many countries, with elections or leadership
changes in the US, Mexico, Russia, China, and France,
and there are a host of other countries concentrating on
tumultuous national circumstances.
Many parts of the world remain preoccupied with the
financial and economic crisis, which is encouraging
a reduced focus on the long term. A debt racked and
crisis stricken EU, usually at the forefront of pushing
for the strongest language on environmental and social
protection, is constrained by what it can demand from
countries that are effectively bailing them out.
But it is precisely because of these multiple interlinked
crises that leadership is so badly needed right now. This
text is not going to deliver a sustainable future, and its
emphasis on ‘grow now, clean up later’, combined with
a refusal to acknowledge planetary boundaries, is set to
take us further in the wrong direction.
The interests and needs of those who will inherit this
planet are being systematically compromised by this
focus on our short-term interests. Only bold solutions
like a High-Level Representative for Future Generations
and Sustainable Development can deliver the change we
so urgently require.
A speech for humanity at Rio+20
The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
As we reach the climax of
Rio+20, it is worth remembering
the role of leadership as a
catalyst for change.
Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using
the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
This lies at the heart of the conundrum facing those
in Rio de Janeiro as they take part in these vital
negotiations to put our planet on a sustainable path. We
have squandered 20 years since the last Earth summit in
1992. Without major progress, the world risks multiple
catastrophes. Politicians blame the inertia in our global
political and economic systems for the failure. This is
rubbish. These systems can change overnight, just look
at the digital revolution, the rise of social media, the
Arab Spring, the global financial meltdown or the recent
food crises. A case in point, the internet, barely existed
in 1992. Now it has changed everything.
Indeed, through the internet we have become a giant
interconnected global system. Large interconnected
systems confer remarkable stability but are also prone
to rapid change. We need to correct the narrative. Inertia
is not the norm. We must embrace the new and create
space for change. But, we need catalysts. Explosive
energy results when visionary leadership connects with
grassroots support around a simple idea.
Perhaps clues to new thinking and fresh approaches can
come from the Civil Rights movement in the sixties. "The
cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet
will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans.
It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present…who
prefer the illusion of security.” So said Robert F Kennedy
in his Day of Affirmation address to the National Union
of South African Students in Cape Town on 6 June 1966.
The rhetoric of this landmark speech applies equally to
challenges facing Earth’s life support system and the
long-term sustainability of our societies. This is hardly
surprising. The Civil Rights movement demanded social,
cultural, political and economic upheaval.
Kennedy saw young people as the solution. “You, and your
young compatriots everywhere, have had thrust upon you
a greater burden of responsibility than any generation
that has ever lived.”
But he listed four obstacles to progress.
The first is futility. We throw our hands in the air before
we begin. We accept the battle cannot be won. For this he
advocated strong leadership.
The second, expediency. Hopes and beliefs come a
poor second to immediate necessities. For this he
The third is timidity. Nations fold under fierce opposition.
People buckle under the wrath of society. For this Kennedy
argued for courage.
The final obstacle is comfort. The temptation to go with
the flow is overwhelming. It is too easy to follow wellworn,
After centuries of inertia and against the odds, Kennedy
and other leaders helped create the right conditions for a
rapid transformation. Ultimately, they succeeded.
Strong leadership is a phenomenal catalyst for change.
It can whip up a powerful groundswell of support. It can
energise and mobilise. It can rip down barriers to progress.
At Rio+20, leadership is currently the missing ingredient.
Over 100 Heads of State are joining here in Rio, but there
is a vacuum, with vital leaders such as Barack Obama
missing. The signal such people send by their presence
has the potential to change the course of our future
development for the next decade.
As global emissions continue unabated, as sea levels rise,
as the world warms, as species die, we are sleepwalking
to catastrophe. Brazilian climate scientist turned civil
servant Carlos Nobre told the Rio+20 science and
technology forum that the Amazon rainforest could be
lost if temperatures rise by 4°C. Summer Arctic sea
ice is destined to disappear sooner rather than later if
we continue on our current trajectory. These are major
changes in state of major parts of the Earth system.
Kennedy concluded his Day of Affirmation address,
“Everyone here will ultimately be judged – will ultimately
judge himself – on the effort he has contributed to
building a new world society and the extent to which his
ideals and goals have shaped that effort.” This is as true
now as it was in 1966.
Who should take the lead
Dr Richard Westaway
Understanding how to reduce
carbon emissions from the
built environment is complex.
However, such understanding
is crucial if we are to
change the way buildings and
infrastructure are designed,
built, renovated and managed.
Despite being directly responsible for only 1% of the total
carbon emissions of buildings, construction companies
have the power to influence almost 47% of the UK’s total
carbon emissions through the design, operation and
demolition of buildings. However, these headlines do not
tell the whole story.
If carbon reduction targets are to be achieved, those letting
construction contracts need to be more aspirational. The
public sector in particular could play a much bigger role
in encouraging the design and delivery of low carbon
buildings. While it is the construction companies who
build, they should not be expected to drive the market in
terms of carbon reductions.
Ultimately, construction companies provide a service
to the decision-makers who initiate, fund and control
building and development contracts. More often than not,
it is architects, investors, clients and tenants who dictate
contracts, so to improve sustainability we must first look
at the contract model itself.
Construction, uniquely amongst the manufacturing
sector, is based on a huge variety of contract models.
Although some contracts allow construction companies to
influence the design and specification set by architects
and clients on developments, many do not. Therefore,
while construction companies might be able to identify
where carbon savings could be made, it is not always in
their power or interest to change them.
That is not to say that construction companies could not
be doing more. For example, contractors could report
the number of projects that included their own design
input, and subsequent carbon savings. This would also
help stakeholders differentiate between construction
companies whose approach to sustainability is largely
client-led (i.e. building to meet client requirements)
from those that are actively trying to influence the
sustainable construction agenda.
Of course, some construction companies are already
driving forward sustainability in their projects. For
example, Skanska recently calculated the carbon footprint
for major projects in Finland, Norway, Sweden, USA and
the UK, by developing a group-wide carbon foot printing
tool to support project teams and Business Units globally.
Although this is a great example of how the construction
sector can drive forward sustainability, it is only relevant
when the contract allows for their input.
Despite receiving relatively little attention to date, urgent
debate is required about how construction companies select
contracts, and the implications of doing so. Ultimately, if
we are to reach ambitious carbon reduction targets we must
radically change the way construction contracts work.
Dr Richard Westaway is a Sustainability Specialist at IMS
Consulting. His work in the construction sector includes
the development of client submissions for the Carbon
Disclosure Project. Prior to joining IMS he worked for the
UK Climate Impact Programme.
This article has been produced with the support of
Skanska. Read more about how Skanska contribute
to a more sustainable built environment by visiting:
pic: Alexandre Prévot
Business leadership in sustaining the
Earth’s natural resources
University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
At Rio+20, leaders of 15 global
companies, with a collective
turnover of over $350 billion,
have called for urgent action to
properly value and maintain the
Earth’s natural capital.
The theme of natural capital has featured strongly in
business discussions at Rio. Natural capital has been defined
as including diversity of life, or biodiversity, underpinning
the resilience of the Earth's natural systems to absorb
shocks and disturbances. It also includes vital ecosystem
services under threat – ranging from crop pollination to
carbon storage and freshwater provision, and from fisheries
to wood production and the renewal of soil fertility – upon
which society and all economic activity relies.
CEOs and Board members of leading companies, which
include Anglo American, Alstom, Arup, ASDA-Walmart,
Aviva Investors, Grupo André Maggi, Kingfisher, Mars,
Natura, Nestlé, Puma, SABMiller, Unilever, Volac and
Votorantim, have signed up to the Natural Capital
Leadership Compact in advance of Rio.
These business leaders call on governments to set
ambitious goals and targets to address the risks posed by
the loss of our natural capital worldwide. The Leadership
Compact not only urges governments to take immediate
action, but also commits the signatory companies to a
challenging shared agenda. Businesses recognise that
their leadership is essential and have committed to
address the following four complex challenges:
1. Operate within the limits of natural systems – manage
their supply sources in order to protect the environment
and improve social equity.
2. Identify and address the (as yet) un-costed impacts
of their business activities on people and the
environment that are associated with the production
and consumption of goods and services – and pledge to
build this into business decision-making and planning.
3. Enable consumers to make better-informed choices
– by working with industry bodies, governments and
citizens to deepen public debate on how to realign
consumption within the limits of natural capital and to
eliminate wastage and inefficiency.
4. Develop rigorous and realistic targets and plans – to
promote the protection and efficient use of natural capital.
Thomas Lingard, Global Advocacy Director for Unilever says:
“Only by collaborating with others across our industry
and up and down our supply chain will we be able to
crack the toughest sustainability challenges. For that
reason it is important for us to clearly define the non
competitive areas of sustainability where we can apply
our collective effort, ingenuity and scale to drive the
change that is necessary in the amount of time that
the scientists tell us is available in which to do it.”
These pledges have not been plucked from thin air.
They come from two years' cooperative work by major
companies in the Cambridge Natural Capital Leaders
Platform. They are stretching complex commitments
that will take time and resources to deliver. The
companies are serious about implementing the agenda
through individual company actions and pre-competitive
collaborative work across sectors.
Work includes developing a common approach to valuing
business impacts, based initially on local case studies.
This will assist decision-making in the Board room and,
critically, provide for engagement post-Rio with policymaking
processes at international, regional and national
levels. The Leadership Compact also links with other
initiatives such as the Natural Capital Declaration.
Leadership is about showing the way forward. Not only
do the businesses set out an agenda for what they are
prepared to do, but also what they urge from governments.
Many of the companies are already taking significant steps
to demonstrate leadership on this natural capital agenda.
They aim to inspire other companies to do likewise.
But business leaders need governments to provide
essential cost and regulatory signals so they can go further
and more rapidly. This leadership from governments has
not been forthcoming at Rio.
Delay is not a viable option.
Ambassador Dr. Josephine Ojiambo
Country of residence:
United States of
Kenyan Mission to the
United Nations, New
How did you get to the role you are in today and what
advice would you give aspiring earth champions
It took a lot of hard work, integrity, humility and
patience to get to where I am. I had to leave my
comfort zone and study material on thematic areas
that were outside my area of specialisation – health
and gender. I also did a lot of volunteer work and
community service, something I continue to do as
an Ambassador. In addition, I engaged the Kenyan
government on many levels before I was appointed as
For the earth champions, please know that we are in
this together. Let us not give up, despite the challenges
we are facing in this cause. Let us be persistent like the
hummingbird that the late Professor Wangari Maathai
talked about. The hummingbird that picked drops of
water in its tiny beak and dropped them on the huge
forest fire to try and save the forest. Meanwhile, as the
hummingbird tried its best, the elephants alongside
other animals with trunks that could carry more water
just watched the fire consume their habitat – the
forest. Let us do the best that we can, in our own small
ways. Our efforts will pay off in due time.
What are the priorities in terms of gender equality at
I support continued commitment to the full
implementation of the Programme of Action
of the International Conference on Population
and Development and its key actions for further
implementation, the Beijing Declaration and Platform
for Action, and intend to pay special attention
to gender equality and women’s empowerment,
especially sexual and reproductive health.
This time round, many recommendations by women
have been brought to the decision-making table
and well-respected females, such as the Brazilian
President, UN Women Executive Michelle Bachelet
and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton will be
present. The voices of the women who have worked
hard to promote sustainable development need to
be taken into consideration. If these vital voices are
ignored, we might be back in Rio twenty years from
now to discuss the same issues we faced in 1992.
Women are mothers and just as they protect their own
children from harm, they can also nurture the planet
and protect it from further destruction.
To what extent has health been incorporated into
discussions around sustainable development
Health has been incorporated into cities, energy,
jobs, disasters and food. Agriculture and food are
of particular relevance. Global trends point to many
points of convergence between policies to support
more sustainable food production, and healthoriented
aims of reducing obesity and malnutrition,
as well as hunger. But, while the potential for health
improvement through sustainable agriculture may
appear substantial, food systems are highly complex.
In this context, health-related indicators can be a
valuable assessment tool and a robust measure of
the success of sustainable development policies that
yield optimal benefits for health, development and
What do you believe should be achieved at Rio+20
All stakeholders should reach a mutual understanding
about the need for immediate change. Voices of
concern should be listened to, the calls for action
should be heeded and efforts to put into practice
the recommendations by governments, NGOs, Major
Groups, Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders
should begin. I recognise that different delegations
and interest groups might have particular reservations
regarding specific issues of sustainable development,
however if nothing is done to avert and repair the
damage on our planet, then humanity is in danger.
Without sustainable development, other goals, such
as achieving international peace, will be at risk. The
fast growing global population will need to compete
for scarce resources, and social injustice and genderbased
marginalisation will continue. The UN and
other stakeholders have invested so much time and
resources in the processes leading to and during
Rio+20, let us not disappoint the 7 billion people
looking to the Summit for solutions.
“In the course of history, there comes a time
when humanity is called to shift to a new level of
consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A
time when we have to shed our fear, and give hope to
each other. That time is now!”
The late Professor Wangari Maathai, (First African
Woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize).
The hummingbird story:
We are missing the point,
and opportunity, of Rio
World Vision, Brazil
Young people today are demanding to be
heard, more than in any other era in
global history. And they have earned
that right. Bolstered by the Arab
Spring and the 99% movement, youth
are carving a path toward meaningful
change – social, environmental and
developmental. As world leaders gather
in Rio this week, they would be wise
to listen to these voices.
Voices like 19-year-old Edgleison Rodrigues. He and a
group of other local young people from Brazil are here at
Rio+20 to make sure world leaders hear their views on the
future from the environment to long-term development.
“We really have to occupy this space because here they
are deciding our future, and also our present and they
have to hear what we have to say”, he remarked.
The cries of young people are more urgent than ever.
Despite significant progress in the past decade, more
than seven million children under the age of five still
die every year from preventable causes like disease,
undernourishment and unsafe household energy use.
Those who survive childhood are lucky to find any sort
of work, as unemployment rates of up to 50% ravage
countries. Besides health and economic constraints,
children and youth are more subject to violence of all
kinds. Our future is being tragically squandered – tragic
for the victims, but tragic also because we are losing a
critical resource whose fresh ideas and openness to
innovation can help build a better tomorrow.
For the world’s poor, the 1990s were a decade of hope,
based on Western economic prosperity and the political
will to eliminate – or substantially reduce – hunger, poverty
and disease. The decade provided the foundation for
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have
been a powerful tool for rallying people and governments
around fighting poverty.
Initial progress toward achieving those goals, however,
has been derailed by the global recession and its lingering
aftermath. Rio+20 is considering practical ways of
achieving the original MDGs by the 2015 deadline, as well
as asking the critical question ‘what next’
The answer lies in a renewed commitment to the world’s
most vulnerable citizens, its children. The future we
want to see is our common focus, and to be completely
successful, this future must be viewed from the perspective
of child development.
Undernourishment contributes to the death of nearly
three million children a year. Despite increases in food
production, nutritious food is often not getting to those
who need it most. If the Rio+20 delegates focus on the
nutritional needs of children, they can develop a truly
sustainable food policy. Such a policy must include
monitoring measures to hold host nations accountable for
the nutritional intake of their children. Healthy children
grow into healthy adults. Studies show that a 5% drop in
child mortality rates produces a 1% boost to economic
growth over the subsequent decade. In many nations,
including Brazil, children comprise up to one-half the
total population. There can be no development efforts
without children being at the forefront. Involving them in
the search for solutions just makes sense.
If there is ever to be a Rio+40, the children of Rio+20 will
be those taking a leadership role. They are not the future,
they are the present and they need to be involved in the
creation of development policies now, this year. We are still
a long way off achieving the world we dreamed of in 1992,
but World Vision believes that to build the world we dream
of in 2012, we must involve children and young people.
They are leading the changes the world needs. Focusing on
children, by its very nature, is sustainable development.
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New global sustainable public procurement initiative harnesses
power of public spending to fast-track green economy transition
A new international initiative to fast track a global
transition to a green economy by harnessing the marketshifting
power of government and local authority spending
was announced today at Rio+20, by the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP) and partners.
Supported by over 30 governments and institutions,
the International Sustainable Public Procurement
Initiative (SPPI) aims to scale-up the level of public
spending flowing into goods and services that maximise
environmental and social benefits.
Studies indicate that sustainable public procurement,
which represents between 15% and 25% of GDP, offers
a tremendous opportunity to move towards green
innovation and sustainability.
Examples from around the world show that sustainable
public procurement has the potential to transform markets,
boost the competitiveness of eco industries, save money,
conserve natural resources and foster job creation.
• Across the OECD group of countries, public
procurement represents close to 20% of GDP (over
US $4,733 billion annually), while in developing
countries the proportion can be slightly higher.
• In India, for example, government procurement is
worth about US $300 billion and is expected to grow
by more than 10% annually in the coming years.
• Japan’s Green Purchasing Policy, has contributed to
the growth of the country’s eco-industries, estimated
to be worth about €430 billion in 2010.
• The city of Vienna saved €44.4 million and over
100,000 tonnes of CO 2 between 2001 and 2007
through its EcoBuy programme.
• Europe could save up to 64% of energy – or 38
TWh of electricity – by replacing street lights with
smarter lighting solutions.
• In Brazil, the Foundation for Education Development
succeeded in saving 8,800 m3 of water, 1,750 tonnes
of waste and 250 kg of organohalogen compounds,
providing the equivalent of one month economic activity to
454 waste pickers, through its decision to replace regular
notebooks with ones made of recycled paper in 2010.
The new SPP initiative seeks to back the worldwide
implementation of sustainable public procurement by
promoting a better understanding of its potential benefits
and impacts and facilitating increased cooperation
between key stakeholders.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director,
Achim Steiner, said: “Sustainable public procurement is a
key enabling instrument for countries that want to make
the transition towards a green economy.”
“The SPP initiative offers governments the opportunity
to lead by example by harnessing their purchasing power
to drive markets towards a greener, more innovative and
more sustainable path.”
He added, “The SPP initiative will push the process
forward towards the creation of robust regulatory
frameworks and collaboration between North and South;
public institutions and the businesses sector at an early
stage of the process.”
“We hope the initiative receives full support at Rio+20 and
that more countries and organisations commit to join and
contribute to its success.”
The initiative has to date been endorsed by: Brazil,
Switzerland, Ecuador, The Francophonie, Chile, Denmark,
the Netherlands, Mauritius, Costa Rica, China, New Zealand,
Lebanon,and organizations such as OAS, SEMCo, ITC-
ILO, UNOPS, the Forest Stewardship Council, Eco-Institut
Barcelona, IISD, the Economic and Monetary Union of West
Africa and the International Green Purchasing Network.
SPP has been recognised as a priority theme by all regions
and is currently being implemented in many developed
and emerging countries:
In Brazil, the Central Purchasing System already contains
more than 550 sustainable products. At the same time, the
value of procurement contracts that integrate sustainability
criteria increased by 94% from 2010 to 2011.
The EU adopted an objective of 50% green public
procurement for a list of 20 product groups.
While in the US, President Obama signed an Executive
order in 2009, requiring that 95% of all applicable
procurement contracts at the Federal level must meet
The SPPI objectives include:
• Building the case for sustainable public procurement
by improving awareness of SPP tools; developing
biennial progress reports on SPP implementation,
analysing barriers, and proposing innovative solutions.
• Supporting SPP implementation through increased
South-South and North-South cooperation and
enhancing public-private collaboration.
UNEP has developed significant expertise and a successful
track-record in implementing sustainable public
procurement policies and action plans across seven pilot
countries in cooperation with the Swiss-led Marrakech
Task Force on SPP. This has allowed the accumulation of
experience and know-how in regards to the design of SPP
policies in emerging and developing countries.
Leadership: Creating a women farmers’
organisation in Jordan
World Farmers Organisation
Zeinab Al-Momany is a farmer
from Jordan who has worked
to empower rural women since
2002. She is the president
of Jordan’s Specific Union
for Farmers Productive (SUFW).
The Union’s purpose is to
fight for women rights and to
change the position of women in
society. Established in 2007,
SUFW remains a volunteer union
consisting solely of women
farmers and is the first of its
kind in the Arab world. Today
it is made up of a total of 900
members and 12 cooperatives.
Zeinab Al-Momay states that SUFW was established
because there was a vacuum of support for farmer women,
who live in very hard and challenging circumstances in
Jordan. These challenges include: poverty, a low standard
of living, lack of formal employment, high cases of
violence, an increase in family size and the misuse of
agricultural land. Creating an organisation such as this is
the best way to empower these women famers.
The mission of SUFW is to establish a series projects
which aim to raise living standards and give women
opportunities to participate in and interact with society.
The union holds a range of training sessions and
conferences, and has launched an information and best
practice sharing website specifically for this demographic.
The law of the General Union of Jordanian farmers
entails that members of the Union should have
possession of no less than 10 acres of land, thereby
omitting many small land-holders. SUFW, however,
allows members to join whether they own or simply rent
land, therefore allowing far more women to become
unionised. Thanks to this simple practice, SUFW has
increased the proportion of women in the General
Farmer Union in Jordan from less than 1% to 8%.
The reasons behind the establishment of the SUFW are to:
• combat the challenges and hardships that women
farmers face, such as poverty and a low standard of
• support the competitive output of Jordanian
• encourage women farmers to make use of
agricultural products as a supplementary source of
• bolster food security;
• spread awareness and best practice between farmer
• take care of the environment;
• protect women farmers’ rights and accentuate their
voices in the community; and
• work on the development of agricultural aids and
procedures through scientific research.
One vital areas of support that SUFW provides is small
loans so that women farmers can establish their own
entrepreneurial projects. These projects range from water
harvesting and land reclamation to planting gardens
with medicinal herbs and a number other agricultural
activities, enabling the income diversification necessary
to significantly increase financial security. These loans
are all dependent on the support and grants from
Another vital source of assistance is the running of training
courses for farmers in order to spread awareness and
develop skills. The initiative provides women farmers with
information and knowledge that will strengthen their ability
to develop and exchange experiences and knowledge.
Zeinab Al-Momany has come to Rio+20 to show the
world the work and lessons learned by SUFW and its
members. Her hope is that Rio will create an opportunity
for a better future. Rio+20 must raise awareness of the
need for fundamental reform of the agricultural and
innovation systems, putting the needs of rural women
at the centre of these processes. Zeinab Al-Momany
believes that a focus on gender issues in agriculture,
within and between institutions, can reorient perspectives
and bring a greater emphasis on nutrition, post-harvest
issues, and mechanisms for knowledge sharing to
address the underlying socio-cultural barriers to change,
such as land ownership, access to information sources
and control of income from produce.
British Council International Delegates hear the
UK perspective from Nick Clegg
The British Council has convened a delegation of
accomplished eco-entrepreneurs and emerging leaders
from its global youth network at Rio+20 to enable them
to showcase their successful green enterprises and
initiatives at the Conference, as well as give them the
opportunity to meet with influential organisations and
decision makers. Yesterday they met with Nick Clegg,
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the UK
Pavilion, following a speech summarising his views on
Rio+20. After looking at the agreed text in detail with
Caroline Spelman, UK Secretary of State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs, and her team, Clegg concluded that
although the it could be more ambitious, there should be
a greater focus on aggressively exploiting and developing
the following points:
New book: Only One Earth
1. The world is now committed collectively to develop
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but countries
need to take responsibility to clearly define the SDGs
in order to implement them and improve the lives of
millions of people around the world.
2. The Summit should be used to push governments
and the private sector to measure prosperity and
growth in a multi-dimensional manner, i.e. GDP+,
instead of taking a snapshot of the nation’s wealth.
3. Private sector companies need to take initiative
by reporting on how their activities impact on
sustainable development. Although this is in the
text as a concept, it has not been defined with
details on definitions and measurements.
The British Council youth delegates were able to ask Clegg
specific questions about energy and the involvement of
youth. Taylor Zhou from China asked Clegg what he thought
was the most cost-effective way to reduce energy, and he
explained that, “energy efficiency is a critical path for
sustainable development in the UK. It is ridiculous that in
our country, 27% of energy is wasted as a result of leaking
and inefficient use of buildings. In fact, we are working
so hard, that hopefully at the end of this year, we will be
able to pass the Green Deal, which will greatly improve the
energy efficiency level in all UK buildings”. Sikander Sabeer
from Sri Lanka asked Clegg about his opinion on including
a youth representative in the official UK delegation. Clegg
answered with a resounding “Yes” as he believed that the
youth should be engaged in the decision-making process
and praised the governments that have already included
youth in their national delegations.
A new book by Felix Dodds &
Michael Strauss with Maurice
Strong (published 1st June
Only One Earth takes retrospective
look at successes and failures
in the environmental movement
in the last forty years, and a look
ahead to what critically needs to
happen at Rio+20 and beyond.
This book offers recommendations
that everyone concerned with
the global collaboration process
“It is a privilege to review the recent
history of a remarkable initiative that
changed attitudes and perceptions, and
introduced a new approach for determining the
future of Planet Earth. Written by outstanding
players that contributed effectively to the
success of this major effort, it covers in
detail scientific, diplomatic and strategic
aspects of a process that peacefully brought
together all nations.”
Henrique B. Cavalcanti, Former Federal Minister of
Environment in Brazil. Former Chairman of the UN
Commission on Sustainable Development
For more information and our press release, visit our site:
Receive 20% DISCOUNT when you order online via
www.routledge.com/9780415540254/ and enter this
ECO Corner is produced by the cooperative efforts of Climate Action Network members at the Rio+20 Conference
Statement by NGOs Major Group at the
high-level plenary session – 20th June
Yesterday Wael Hmaidan, Director
of Climate Action Network, made
a statement on behalf of the NGOs
at Rio+20 to the assembled Heads
of State, Ministers and other
dignitaries at the opening of the
high level segment of Rio+20. At
this point, the final text on the
table was extremely weak and it was
a final chance to exalt the need
for a Rio+20 outcome that responds
to the global challenges that the
planet faces today, and guarantees
a future that we all want.
“Thank you Vice-President.
I am making this statement on behalf of NGOs at Rio+20.
It feels amazing to be in this room among all the world
leaders, and feeling all this power around me that can
shape the World. We all know the threat that is facing us,
and I do not need to repeat the urgency. The science is
very clear. If we do not change in the coming five to ten
years the way our societies function, we will be threatening
the survival of future generations and all other species
on the planet. Nevertheless, you sitting here in this room
have the power to reverse all of this. What you can do
here is the ideal dream of each one of us: you have the
opportunity to be the saviours of the planet.
And yet we stand on the brink of Rio+20 being another
failed attempt, with governments only trying to protect
their narrow interests, instead of inspiring the world
and giving us all back the faith in humanity that we
need. If this happens, it will be a waste of power and a
wasted leadership opportunity.
You cannot have a document entitled The Future We Want
without any mention of planetary boundaries, tipping
points, or the Earth’s carrying capacity. The text as it
stands is completely out of touch with reality. Just to be
clear, NGOs here in Rio in no way endorse this document.
Already, more than 1,000 organisations and individuals
have signed, in only one day, a petition called ‘The Future
We Don’t Want’, which completely refuses the current
text. It does not in any way reflect our aspirations, and
therefore we demand that the words “in full participation
with civil society” are removed from the first paragraph.
If you adopt the text in its current form, you will fail to
secure a future for the coming generations, including your
To mention a few examples of failures in the document:
Countries are failing to find resources to implement
sustainable development, using the economic crisis as
an excuse, while at the same time spending hundreds of
billions of dollars subsidising the fossil fuel industry, the
most profitable industry in the world. The first thing you
can do is eliminate existing harmful subsidies, especially
fossil fuel subsidies, which was voted as the number one
issue during the civil society dialogue.
Under the oceans section, you have failed to give a clear
mandate to even start negotiating an implementing
agreement to stop the Wild West abuse of the high seas.
There are many other failures in the document related to
women’s reproduction health, missed opportunities to
start new global treaties on civil society participation or
on sustainability reporting, the extraordinary lack of any
reference to armed conflicts, nuclear energy (especially in
light of the Fukushima disaster), and many, many others.
But it is not too late. We do not believe that it is over. You
are here for three more days, and you can still inspire us
and the world. It would be a shame and a waste for you
to only come here and sign off a document. We urge you
to create new political will that would make us stand and
applaud you as our true leaders.
Rio+20 side event calendar
Date Time Venue Title Organisers
09:00 - 10:30 RioCentro T-5
CSR and sustainability reporting: creating a green economy and sustainable
Global Reporting Initiative
THURSDAY 21st JUNE
09:00 - 10:30 RioCentro T-1 Sustainable, Inclusive Growth: The Way Forward from Rio+20 and G20 Denmark
09:00 - 10:30 RioCentro T-9 Environmental Auditing for Better Environmental Governance INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro T-2 The Rights of Nature to reach Buen Vivir Ecuador
11:00 - 13:00 RioCentro P3-1 Women Leaders' Summit on the Future Women Want UN Women
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro P3-E Tax and Subsidy Reform for a Greener Economy International Monetary Fund (IMF)
11.15 - 13.15
12:00 - 13:00 UNEP Pavilion
13:00 - 14:30 RioCentro T-6
13:00 - 14:30 RioCentro T-2
14:00 - 17:00 HSBC Arena
Civil society taking global responsibility
Microsoft - A Private Sector View: Business Reengineering for Sustainable Business
Creating Wealth and Prosperity in a Resource Constrained World: Country
Experiences and Best Practices in Designing Inclusive Green Economies
Inclusive Green Growth: Challenges and Opportunities on the Pathway to
Sustainability Reporting and Corporate Accountability: 20 years of debate on the
role of private sector in sustainable development. Is a report or explain approach
to sustainability reporting the way forward
European Economic and Social Committee
Global Reporting Initiative, Stakeholder Forum,
15:00 - 16:30 RioCentro P3-B Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability
16:30 - 18:30 t1d, Dragao do Mar
Voices from Fukushima: Calling for a Nuclear Power Free World
for a Sustainable Future
17:00 - 19:00 UNEP Pavilion Outcomes of World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law UNEP
17:00 - 18:30 RioCentro T-2 Brazilian Policy to Reduce Deforestation Brazil
17:00 - 18:30 RioCentro P3-E Green Economy: Achievements & Perspectives in the Adriatic-Ionian region Serbia
17:00 - 18:30 RioCentro T-6
17:30 - 19:00
Global Partnership for Oceans: Coming Together for Healthy and Productive
A global convention on corporate sustainability reporting
19:00 - 20:30 RioCentro T-6 Volunteer Action Counts: The Power of Volunteerism for SD United Nations Volunteers (UNV)
19:00 - 20:30 RioCentro P3-6 Decisions we need for the city of 2030 ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability
19:00 - 20:30 RioCentro T-2 Educating for a sustainable future
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
FRIDAY 22ND JUNE
09:00 -11:00 t1d, Dragao do Mar
Voices from Fukushima: Calling for a Nuclear Power Free World
for a Sustainable Future
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro T-4 U.S. Priorities for Rio+20 United States of America
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro T-2 UN System: Together for the Future We Want UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro T-9 Sustainable Global Transformation and Inclusive Green Growth German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro T-6 Partnership for Sustainable Development of Afghanistan Afghanistan
11:00 - 12:30 RioCentro T-2 UN System: Together for the Future We Want UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)
12:00 - 13:00 UNEP Pavilion Partnership and Implementation of Sustainable Development: What has worked UNEP
13:00 - 14:45 UNEP Pavilion
Global MEAs for Atmosphere, Hazardous substances and Biodiversity: What are
the lessons for Future Synergies
13:00 - 14:30 RioCentro T-9 Enhancing science-policy links for Rio+20: The Future Earth Initiative International Council for Science (ICSU)
13:00 - 14:30 RioCentro P3-F Decent Work and Social Protection Floors for Sustainable Development International Labour Organization (ILO)
13:00 - 17:00 RioCentro T-1 What Happens On Monday Stakeholder Forum
13:15 - 14:45 UN2 Barra Arena
15:00 - 17:00 UNEP Pavilion
17:00 19:00 UNEP Pavilion
Roots of Equity : what rights and safeguards do women need who are dependent
for their livelihoods on forest, biodiversity and subsistence farmers.
Advancing the Sustainability Science Agenda: To Support Sustainable
Development and the Green Economy
Synergies among the Rio Conventions: Exploring opportunities for a more
integrated reporting to the Rio Conventions by LDCs and SIDS
Women Major Group
Reflections from Rio+20, Wednesday 20 June
ANPED, Northern Alliance for Sustainability
Delegates crossed our red lines and they know it. If they had
not realised it by Wednesday morning, a demonstration with
people in red shirts, red bracelets and a red rope got the
message across. The media jumped on it, with over a dozen
video interviews taking place with the likes of the Associated
Press, Brazil national television, and Japanese media to
name just a few. The demonstration was organised by youth,
with support from other Major Groups. Even some delegates
spontaneously joined the protest as it proceeded. Many are
saying that they do not want to be associated with this text at
all. NGOs and Trade Unions are now even asking to erase 'with
full participation of Civil Society' in paragraph 1, to reflect that
this is not the future they want.
We could talk about a few positive points in the text. We could
say that going from MDGs to SDGs – however vague they still
are – is some sort of progress, but the bigger issue is: the
basic fundamentals of our economy are still remains the same.
This agreement affirms a green growth strategy that does not
even mention the existence of planetary boundaries or limits.
This text was made by people living in a fictional world where
the economy is detached from, or unrelated to, the complex
ecosystem we called Earth.
Just one day's worth of events here calls to attention a myriad
of places to enter the call – add this one day to all the events
and efforts associated with the Summit and the thousands of
organisations in all countries and you get the picture.
Hopefully, our leaders at the top will take the ensuing agenda
and run with it. Hopefully, they will set the goals and parameters
that will allow us to measure, analyse, determine and provide
what is needed for creating sustainable environments that
foster human wellbeing while wisely conserving resources for
present and future generations.
We need leaders from the bottom up and at the middle. Each
one of the thousands of people registered here can return home
and lead in their own areas of expertise and interest, enhanced
by what they have learnt. Most of all, I am encouraged by the
youth, by their enthusiasm, interest, innovative approaches,
ability to challenge what exists and replace it with something
more sustainable, their sense of humour, imagination and
creativity. It is in our hands collectively; and ultimately, it is the
youth that will lead the way.
We urge world leaders to re-open the negotiations to raise
the ambition level. We did not elect you to come here, make
a political statement and then head to Copacabana beach.
Not only because a large chunk of civil society at the People's
Summit has just declared war on you, but because you have
a responsibility to protect the whole world, not just national
interests. We live in a globalised world where your actions affect
all of us. You have to provide us with a future we can believe in.
Leadership involves being a person of integrity; gathering
interested, capable persons; setting the agenda and leading
your constituents in the right direction with full group
participation, openness and transparency.
There is so much work to do – all leaders are being called
upon to start, and continue, what is before us to accomplish
– the potential, realised outcome of Rio+20. Leaders at the
local, state, regional, national and global levels are needed.
Captain Planet, he's our hero, taking uninformed delegates down to zero
Outreach is made possible by the support of