More than 100 heads of state and a large number of ministers arrive at RioCentro tomorrow, for the highest-level segment of the Rio+20 Earth Summit. As you’ve already heard (here and here), negotiators completed their draft outcome document, The Future We Want. After half a year of negotiating text and thousands of pages of ideas whittled down to just 49, the only one’s celebrating the text at this stage seem to be the negotiators themselves.
Instead of the language that solves problems, like ambitious commitments and hard targets & deadlines, The Future We Want is filled with the language of inaction – “we take note of”, “we acknowledge”, and “we reaffirm.”
Here’s a little taste of what we’re hearing from non-negotiators. According to WWF‘s Director General, Jim Leape:
“Despite a late night negotiating session, the revised text is a colossal failure of leadership and vision from diplomats. They should be embarrassed at their inability to find common ground on such a crucial issue. Now it’s up to world leaders to get serious about sustainable development and save this process. If they approve what’s on the table now without significant changes, they’ve doomed Rio+20 to ridicule.”
Greenpeace was also hoping for something with enough ambition to have an impact on the many many issues that were discussed. They didn’t see it. Here’s Greenpeace International‘s Kumi Naidoo:
“We were promised the ‘future we want’ but are now being present with a ‘common vision’ of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests.”
According to Oxfam‘s Spokesperson, Tim Hale:
“Everybody should look in the mirror and ask what is history going to make of this. We face connected crises. This should be a turning point, but it is a dead end… This Summit could be over before it’s started. World leaders arriving tonight must start afresh. Rio+20 should be a turning point. There’s no sign of that here. Almost a billion hungry people deserve better.”
So what next? Is it a done deal? If countries agreed on this “outcome document” so watered down that there is nothing controversial enough left to negotiate, why are all these leaders and ministers showing up? According to long-time campaigner and blogger, Rémi Parmentier, that’s a very important question:
I have now heard that the Brazilian Communication Minister recognized publically this afternoon that the Heads of State and Government could introduce amendments to the text tomorrow. And I just came from the press conference of the US delegation, where Todd Stern, US Special Envoy on Climate Change also recognized that this was possible, even though of course he said he did not hope so and thought that — as we know — the Brazilian presidency would do everything in its power to prevent this from happening.
Our hope has been that the Heads of State and Government come to Rio to save the Planet, not to save face. Technically this is still possible. But do they have the political will?
About the authorJoshua Wiese
Joshua Wiese is Adopt a Negotiator’s Project Director. He is based in San Francisco, where he spends most of his time thinking about how to use technology to make the world a better place.