21 June 2012

Africa: Rio+20 - Expectations High As Negotiations Close

Photo: Albert González Farran/UN Photo
A child pushes a water roller.

Expectations to produce a strong outcome document at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) are still high even as negotiators have only one more to conclude, a senior United Nations official said yesterday.

"Delegates are sharing feedback on the consolidated text presented by Brazil," Rio+20's Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, said in a statement, adding that he remains optimistic that delegations would reach an agreement before the close of negotiations.

In a press briefing, a Rio+20 spokesperson Pragati Pascale, stressed that the new version of the text reflects the same agreements and disagreements on the outcome document which have engaged member states over the past few weeks. She also emphasized that a shorter version did not mean that the text had become weaker.

"They're trying to find consensus," Ms. Pascale said. "We're all confident that the differences can be bridged."

Delegations working on the text are now concentrating in four key areas: building an institutional framework for sustainable development, agreeing on the means of implementation, oceans and the establishment of sustainable development goals.

"At this stage, Brazil are at the heart of the negotiations now," the Head of the Rio+20 Secretariat, Nikhil Seth, told reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Monday afternoon, adding that since the handover to Brazil, there has been rapid progress, with parties are agreeing on a number of issues.

"Delegates are not looking at linguistic refinement of paragraphs anymore, they are looking at the bigger picture" Mr. Set said.

Rio+20's high-level meeting runs 20-22 June, and is expected to bring together over 100 heads of state and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

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