Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Greenpeace Canada and Greenpeace International, Équiterre, Oxfam, the Ecology Action Centre, AQLPA (the Quebec Association of fight against air pollution), the High Seas Alliance, as well as CARE and the World Wide Fund, have all condemned the Rio+20 Earth Summit declaration.
While agreeing with their critique, the global water justice movement can also claim an important gain with respect to the right to water and sanitation.
The overall declaration
The Canadian Press reports, “The bad blood between Ottawa and environmentalists was on display before the entire world Tuesday as negotiators from more than 100 countries signed a draft blueprint for sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro. After months of trying to boil down proposals, environmental officials at the Rio+20 conference in Brazil this week finally compromised and delivered a 283-point ‘vision’ for leaders and politicians to ratify later this week. In the draft, the countries pledge to work with civil society to ‘renew our commitment to sustainable development, and to ensure the promotion of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations.’ The plan would commit countries to fight climate change with ‘urgent and ambitious action,’ increase their aid for developing countries, and work out a global set of long-term sustainable development goals to alleviate poverty and prevent global warming.”
“Critics (from the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Oxfam, the Ecology Action Centre, and Greenpeace Canada) say the draft is weak on timelines and firm commitments, and lacks heft when it comes to overseeing the state of the world’s oceans.”
- Cameron Fenton, director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, says, ‘The text is extremely weak, and as it stands represents a sell-out of people and the planet.’ …’Canada’s role has been at its best not engaging in the process, and at worst acting to weaken ambitious language and delete commitments.’
- Oxfam Canada’s Mark Fried noted the official text did not contain any new commitments, and even modest proposals — such as improving smallholder farmers’ access to resources — were dropped. ‘The Rio+20 summit was never going to save the world,’ Fried said in an email from Rio. ‘But it should mark a decisive turning point in our ambition to do so.’
- Susanna Fuller, marine conservation co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax who was in the negotiating room in Rio, says, ‘It’s a big failure of Rio, especially since this was talked about as the summit of the seas.’ While regional agreements and fishing accords do control some aspects of biodiversity in some parts of the world’s oceans, there are many gaps that beg a global agreement in order to prevent destruction of habitat and ocean pollution, she said. …Europe and some developing countries, as well as many environmental groups, had hoped to see leaders commit to forging a new agreement that would protect marine habitat and keep an eye on deep-sea mining. Instead, negotiators agreed to talk some more, and decide later.
- Greenpeace Canada’s ocean campaigner, Charles Latimer, adds developing countries in particular had hoped to have a biodiversity pact so that any benefits derived from marine genetics are shared for the common good. But Fuller said Canada, the United States, Russia and Venezuela worked together to make sure there would be no new agreement. …Canada’s companies have an interest in deep-sea mining that might be fettered by a new high-seas biodiversity agreement, they say.