UN Conference on Sustainable Development, 'Rio+ 20', begins
20 years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the sustainability summit of the United Nations is taking place in the Brazilian metropolis from Wednesday to Friday of this week. The German Foreign Office, Environment Ministry and Ministry for Economic Cooperation have collaborated extensively in the preparation of the conference and will represent Germany at the summit.
Representatives from the whole world are negotiating how the world economy can be made more environmentally friendly. Also up for negotiation are institutional reforms under the auspices of the United Nations. In addition, sustainability goals will be discussed that should supplement the existing development goals. The UN General Assembly had committed in 2000 to halving world poverty in the world by 2015.
German Development Minister Dirk Niebel had advocated putting into place goals for sustainable financial systems and security. “These are topics that in the year 2000, when the so-called millennium goals were agreed upon, were not on the agenda,” Niebel said in an interview with the news agency dapd. The commitment to new goals could, moreover, help us make progress, “because they do not only apply to developing and emerging countries, but also oblige industrial nations to take their commitments seriously,” said the minister.
At the same time, he made clear that financial aid is not the chief priority of the conference. “For the shift to a green economy, we do not only require government aid from industrial countries, but also in particular the know-how, the expertise and the capital of the private sector,” emphasised Niebel.
Environment Minister Peter Altmaier has toned down expectations of the sustainability summit in Rio de Janeiro. “I believe that we will get a result if the political message arrives in Rio. We will then be moving in the right direction,” he said Monday in Rio. The latest draft of the Brazilian presidency reflects for example “the Europeans’ good leadership in the negotiations.” Nevertheless the situation at the moment is “still far away from what one would label a success." Attempts to reach a solution, however, must be made up to the very end.
Altmaier also expressed skepticism in regard to new financial commitments, but he urged that the first priority should be meeting old commitments. “We cannot always solve all our problems with new funds, but we must make sure that the necessary capital is available.” He referred to the example of the Green Climate Fund, which was agreed upon at the 2010 UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, and made clear that he was not happy with its implementation within the EU.
The director of the UN Environmental Program UNEP, Achim Steiner, regretted that Chancellor Angela Merkel will not take part in the conference. “The disappointment of many countries is great. Mrs Merkel enjoys great international respect,” said Steiner to the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. Moreover, Germany plays an important role at these negotiations. “I must certainly not be the only person who regrets her absence in Rio.” Merkel was taking part in the G20 summit in the Mexican city of Los Cabos and subsequently returned back to Germany.