Live from Rio +20: Part 3

Posted on | June 14, 2012 by Timothy Herrmann |

Both Ambassador Kim Sook and John Ashe (co-chairs of the Rio +20 negotiations process) along with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, have reiterated that the negotiation process is moving far to slow and that no one will be receiving “gold stars” for introducing new language or vague ideas. They want the draft done, and they want it done now. So much for sovereignty. This “very important” communique was made early this morning at the beginning of the negotiations process.

Currently, negotiations are broken up into splinter groups, each addressing a particular section of the draft of the Rio +20 outcome document. Each group has been alloted a specific amount of time for negotiations and it was decided to address the sections of the draft that have the most agreement first, so as to speed up the process. However, if yesterday is any indication of forward “progress”, it is very unlikely that a final negotiated text will be ready by the end of negotiations tomorrow. It is more likely that negotiations will drag on into the weekend.

For those unfamiliar with the Rio +20 negotiations process, up to this point there have been a series of three “formal negotiations” or “prep-coms – preparatory committees” along with a number of informal negotiations. The idea of these initial negotiations, which have been going on for over a year, is to agree on a text before the actual Rio +20 conference begins on the 20th. The conference itself is nothing more than a formality and the document is supposed to be finished long before. However, the general consensus is that we are still far away from a final document and many countries are already worried that when the heads of state arrive next week, their will be nothing for them to agree on.

The big fight in negotiations continues to be between the G77, Europe, the US, Australia, Canada, and the Nordic Countries (divided along North-South lines). The draft is seen by the G77 as written in the favor of the northern countries and more conciliatory to the growth of their failing economies and green “ideology”. For this reason, the G77 has been doing everything that it can to water down the document and to add qualifiers demanding technology transfers and investment from the north. The G77 worries that the North’s push for sustainable development will force their countries to implement “sustainable” practices that will not only be expensive but that will limit their ability to grow their economies. The more restrictions, “green technologies” and practices they must use and implement, the more difficult it will be for them to continue to provide jobs and increase production while address poverty. It is no wonder that the poverty section of the draft continues to be seen as one of the most controversial.

For now, it seems that this divide between the north and the south will not only delay negotiations but will result in a very vague document with few teeth and little to no concrete goals.

That’s it for now, see you again this afternoon.



Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.


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