Will world leaders deliver at Rio+20?

If I asked you what Rio+20 was, would you know?  It sounds like it should be a brand of beachwear for larger ladies, but in fact it is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place in Rio, Brazil on the 20th – 22nd June.

Rio+20 is named after the groundbreaking initial United Nations Earth Summit conference held in Rio in 1992  in which sustainable development was made a top priority on the agenda of the United Nations and the international community.  The objectives of this year’s summit are to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development and to assess progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development whilst at the same time addressing new and emerging challenges. The summit will focus on two specific themes: a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to lead the British delegation along with Secretary of State for the Environment Caroline Spelman.  In a speech in February Spelman set out the UK government’s vision for what should be achieved at the summit. In it she said that:

“Our economic and environmental security relies on ambitious outcomes from Rio+20.  Rio+20 has to be a workshop not a talking shop.  The international community has not made sufficient progress on important world challenges such as food security, access to clean water and sustainable energy.  We need urgent action now.  Sustainable development goals can drive international action on these key issues and build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals.  I will be pushing for real progress on new goals to set us on the right path to a greener and more sustainable world.”

You can read the full transcript of her speech here.

A number of UK Christian aid organisations are gearing up for Rio+20 too.  This Wednesday (23rd May) CAFOD, Christian Aid, Progressio and Tearfund are organising a public discussion at Central Hall Westminster considering the distinctive arguments and solutions offered by Christian perspectives to the vital topics for debate at Rio+20.  The panel will include some of the most influential leaders in the field including Caroline Spelman.  This is open to anyone, so if you’re in the area and would like to attend, you should hopefully still be able to get a place.

In June there will also be a series of events in cities around the country run by Tearfund, A Rocha and New Frontiers with an excellent selection of speakers examining Christian responses to environmental issues today.  You can find the details about all these events including this Wednesday’s at Westminster on the Rio – Whose Earth? page at Tearfund’s Website.

Churches in Brazil will be campaigning and praying ahead of the summit.  We can do our bit by joining them and others across the world to  pray for change towards a sustainable and safe future that protects the earth and all who live in it,  especially the poorest people.

It’s our duty to care for God’s creation. He has given us that responsibility and it honours Him when we use the world’s resources well and respect this planet he has given us to live on.

Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them…
The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
you founded the world and all that is in it.
You created the north and the south…

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.

(Psalm 89: 8-15)

You can find out a whole lot more about Rio+20 at the UN’s official website

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Categories: Environment, Justice, Poverty

Tags: , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. If Cameron had included someone with the brains and the ability such as Caroline Lucas in his little group of chums to rule the world then I might have had hope. So far all the Tory chaps have shown themselves to be cads and bounders. This really would be a good start if the Cameron and Co took it seriously and not just a meet up and a party. Sorry for sounding so critical by the chap and his buds really do exasperate me.

    • There’s been a lot of disappointment that David Cameron won’t be going, especially as they moved the dates of the whole thing so that it wouldn’t clash with the Queen’s jubilee. Considering the number of times DC used to go on about how much he cares about the environment, he really ought to be making more of an effort to show how important it is that the UK aims to be a world leader in this arena.

  2. It can be difficult to see how some of this can be achieved. Sustainable development and lower carbon footprints requires some often exotic mineral resources (e.g. platinum-group elements; rare earth elements etc), which often requires mining in sensitive (politically and environmentally) locations. This leads to greater environmental degradation and occasional social upheval. Unfortunately a commitment to improving everyones lifestyle will come with environmental costs. The higher we intend to raise the average standard of living the higher the environmental costs. At the moment I can’t see an easy way to square that circle.

    • This is a very valuable point. If everyone on the planet was consuming resources as we do in the West then I’m not sure how long we would be able to cope. I don’t believe we can increase our living standards constantly and in a sustained way.

      Focusing on reducing extreme poverty is something that governments should be doing, but trying to get all of us to consume more is not a sensible way forward.

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