Christian Aid (London)

Africa: Inject Desperately Needed Urgency Into Weak Rio+20 Text, Christian Aid Urges World Leaders

press release

Commenting on the new text released at the Rio+20 conference today, Christian Aid's Senior Advisor on Sustainable Development, Dr Alison Doig, said:

On 'closing' the text:

'The Brazilians, apprently supported by many major delegations, are determined to shut down further debate on the text. But with world leaders arriving in Rio and more than three days of the conference to go, that would be a betrayal of all we're trying to achieve and a staggering waste of opportunity.

'So we're challenging heads of state and government to use the remaining days to inject some desperately needed urgency into the text. It must respond to the gravity of the environmental crisis and the scandal of global poverty, and create momentum for sustainable development. There is so much at stake - this is not the time to stop working.'

On sustainable development goals:

'As far as the sustainable development goals are concerned, the Brazilians have worked hard to find a way between different sides' irreconcileable positions. We're pleased with much of what the text says on the goals - for instance that they must be universal, developed by a wide range of different interests and integrated with whatever replaces the Millennium Development Goals.

'But we're disappointed that the text remains vague on how - and even if - the sustainability goals will be merged with the MDGs' successor to get a single set of strong global development goals.'

On Sustainable Energy For All:

'The text contains some good words on access to energy, but it's completely devoid of urgency. Ban Ki-moon's Sustainable Energy for All initiative is merely "noted" and there is no target date for achieving universal access to energy, by 2030 or any other date.

'The text also opens the door to the dangerous idea that 'clean fossil fuel' could be considered as low-carbon energy. That is open to a very wide interpretation and could lead to dirty fuels such as shale gas being classified as 'low carbon'. The text is also depressingly weak on renewable energy, with no targets - just a vague wish to ímprove the share of renewables in the energy mix.'

On corporate sustainability reporting:

'The text includes some weak language suggesting sustainability reporting by publicly listed and large companies. More encouragingly, it opens the door for a sustainability reporting process that moves forward from Rio+20 and must be taken up by companies, governments and civil society. The process could help to ensure that companies - good and bad - are held to account for the way they affect the environment and people's lives, and pushed towards significant improvements.'

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