The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development currently being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, aka Rio+20 (in honor of the ground breaking Earth Summit held in the same city 20 years ago) has turned out to be a bit of a dud.
I commented elsewhere that it could even be considered the “world’s biggest greenwash” because it isn’t legally binding and has no clearly defined goals or timetables to tackle pressing issues like food security, water and energy. Activist groups don’t like it, major countries like the US, UK and Germany declined to send their leaders and EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard tweeted about “how weak it is”.
So what are some opinions from the Asia Pacific region?
Well, I can’t offer anything comprehensive, especially this early, but some prominent voices are already chiming in.
New Zealand’s former prime minister Jenny Shipley and VP of the Club of Madrid writes in an opinion piece for CNN that it’s incredible that family planning is not on the summit’s agenda:
We know that when women have access to voluntary family planning services, supplies and information, society sees enormous gains in each of the three pillars of sustainable development — human development, economic growth and environmental sustainability. Without it, families, communities and natural resources are extraordinarily burdened.
China Dialogue has a piece featuring input from several Chinese representatives of organizations like Greenpeace East Asia, the Stockholm Environment Institute, a Chinese climate researcher, a member of the China office of the UN’s Environment Program and a green journalist who states:
I have no hopes for Rio. A declaration is meaningless, nothing more than show. The Chinese government’s performance and commitments are simply empty rhetoric and do nothing to help protect nature at home.
The UN’s Ban Ki Moon, who opened the Rio+20 summit with a speech, seemed to be trying a bit of cautious optimism.
He’s quoted in a BBC News report:
…progress has been too slow – we have not gone far enough down the road. We are now in sight of a historic agreement – the world is waiting to see if words will translate into action, as we know they must.
Another opinion piece, this one from a Filipino journalist and running in the Christian Science Monitor, puts the argument forth that black carbon, a particularly serious issue in developing Asian nations, should be limited through a trading system like the one some countries and territories use in an effort to limit CO2.
Finally, though not really a “voice”, the Manila-based Asian Development Bank has pledged – along with 7 other lenders – to provide (read: lend) $175bn in funding for more “environmentally-friendly, accessible, affordable, and safe transport solutions” in developing countries. The funds will be geared specifically towards projects for “public transport systems and high-quality bicycle and walking infrastructure in cities, energy-efficient vehicles and fuels, railways and inland waterways.”
Read more about that mega-loan on Bloomberg.