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The Needs of the Present

China Development Gateway, June 25, 2012 Adjust font size:

Mixed reactions

For a moment, pessimism reigned over Rio de Janeiro. Seeing the hard bargains and unfulfilled commitments, and considering the non-binding nature of the outcome document, the Future We Want, a large number of participants believed the future for sustainable development would be quite uncertain.

Chandra Tamirisa, CEO of Transformations LLC., an independent consulting firm in Washington, D.C., expressed his doubts. "It would be interesting to see how the UN will coordinate the nations and push them."

Others simply gave up completely. "The Rio summit will not bring about 'the future we want.' It will provide a stark and distressing reminder of the present we have," said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

There was also positive assessment. Some people said the conference would become another historical landmark. In addition to the adoption of the final document, the conference offered a good opportunity for countries around the world to look back at what they had achieved, realize why they had failed, and discuss what should be done in the future. "The meeting has brought to our attention something we are all concerned about, and also has come up with something encouraging and constructive," said Kline. "Something is always better than nothing."

The final draft of the outcome document was generally inclusive, balanced and set in a positive tone, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu after the document was agreed upon following rounds of hard talks on June 19. It addressed the major concerns of all parties, and will play an important role in promoting global sustainable development, he added.

The document reiterated the principled stances at the 1992 Earth Summit, in particular, the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." With regard to green economy, Ma said the document called for respecting each country's sovereignty, national conditions, as well as development stage, and attaching greater importance to eradicating poverty around the world.

The document urged developed countries to fulfill their commitments to helping developing countries. These include providing to the developing world aid of up to 0.7 percent of their gross national product, extending environmentally friendly technology transfers under favorable terms to developing nations, and helping them build capacity, Ma said.

But as to the development in future, many believed it depends on how determined countries around the globe are to act for change.

Rio+20 Objectives,Themes

The objectives of Rio+20 are to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.

The conference focused on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and creating the institutional framework for sustainable development.

The preparations for Rio+20 highlighted seven areas that need priority attention: decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Seen as the guiding principle for long-term global development, sustainable development consists of three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection.


1972: The UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm brought the industrialized and developing nations together to delineate the rights of the human family to a healthy and productive environment.

1980: The International Union for the Conservation of Natural Resources published the World Conservation Strategy (WCS), which provided a precursor to the concept of sustainable development.

1983: The World Commission on Environment and Development was created. The commission was asked to formulate a global agenda for change. In 1987, in its report Our Common Future, it advanced the understanding of global interdependence and the relationship between economics and the environment previously introduced by the WCS.

June 1992: The first UN Conference on Environment and Development was held in Rio de Janeiro and adopted an agenda for environment and development in the 21st century. Agenda 21, a program of action for sustainable development, contains the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which recognizes each nation's right to pursue social and economic progress and assigned to states the responsibility of adopting a model of sustainable development.

2002: Ten years after the Rio Declaration, a follow-up conference, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was convened in Johannesburg to renew the global commitment to sustainable development.



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