18 June 2012

Ghana: UN Confab On Sustainable Development Kicks Off Wednesday

Photo: Frederic Courbet/Gates Foundation
The Rio+20 summit is envisaged as a conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and government or other representatives.

An unspecified number of Ghanaian officials are in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro to participate in the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which is officially kicking off on Wednesday, June 20.

Generally, global leaders go into the summit under intense pressure to achieve results for their populations, especially as analysts say the past 20 years since the first Rio conference have brought very little progress in developing the earth in a sustainable way.

African leaders, according to Public Agenda's sources, have been meeting ahead of the main event to adopt a common position as has been the case with international climate talks. The particular issues on which they would be building consensus are unclear but the environment is expected to feature prominently.

In the case of Ghana, for instance, a consult engaged by government to prepare a National Assessment Report on Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and Target for Rio+20 Conference stated in a draft report that of the three pillars of sustainable development, the environment sector receives the least attention in Ghana compared to economic and social transformation

CARE International said ahead of the summit when it launched a report entitled "One Planet " One Future: Equity and resilience for sustainable development? on Wednesday that "In fact, the issues that were discussed in 1992 are today more urgent than ever. By 2030, we will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water to meet the needs of a growing population. Yet our current development model is degrading our environment."

CARE, a leading humanitarian organisation fighting global poverty, said world leaders meeting in Rio must fully commit to build a more resilient and equitable future and to act upon three fundamental challenges that hamper sustainable development: gender inequality, climate change and food insecurity, which are crucial barriers to reducing poverty, achieving social justice and fostering sustainable development.

"Only by tackling climate change, food insecurity and gender inequality we can build resilience of local communities and deliver equity and social justice for poor women and men," said Kit Vaughan, Advocacy Coordinator for CARE's Poverty, Environment and Climate Change Network (CARE PECCN).

"They are increasingly affected by more severe disasters such as floods or droughts and they have limited safety nets to rely on in times of hardship. Among the most vulnerable people are women and girls, who are often responsible for providing food and water to their families, yet may have no rights to own land or participate in decisions that affect their lives," Vaughan added.

He pointed out that The "One Planet - One Future: Equity and resilience for sustainable development" report therefore calls on global leaders attending the summit to, among other things: Step up political commitment, ambition and urgency to deliver on truly sustainable development actions; Ensure that sustainable development and a green economy prioritise building equitable and resilient communities; and Address gender inequality and enable women as the drivers of sustainable development by removing barriers to their full participation in key institutions and processes.

The quest for sustainable development emanated from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as Rio Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro. The main outcome of the summit, called Agenda 21, urged countries to adopt National Strategies for Sustainable Development (NSSDs) that harmonise and integrate economic, social and environmental policies and plans at the national level.

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