Twenty years on from Rio, development is still far from sustainable
- AN INNOVATIVE ASSESSMENT
There is no formal assessment of the goals set by Agenda 21 during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which will take place in June 2012, is the opportunity to take a look back at 20 years of sustainable development. The Rio Declaration of principles, aimed essentially at reconciling economic development and environmental concerns, has acquired real legal and political legitimacy. However, its efficiency, especially in terms of resource management, is still uncertain and the lack of quantified objectives or an effective monitoring body hamper its implementation.
- THE DIFFICULT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RIO PRINCIPLES
The international governance of sustainable development, as embodied by the Commission on Sustainable Development, is a failure. Indeed, sustainable development is struggling to establish itself within a holistic form of governance that effectively associates the three pillars and involves all stakeholders. And, due to a lack of clearly defined and mutually accepted criteria and procedures, the implementation of the Rio principles is encountering some serious reservations and creating a feeling of incompletion.
- TOWARDS A NEW FORM OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Although some of the conventions and other mechanisms set up further to Agenda 21 have produced encouraging results, and although the goal of growth to eradicate poverty has been partially achieved, pressure on natural resources is increasing. The very principle of sustainable development is being challenged, and the need for a path change is more urgent than ever. Initial discussions in the run-up to the Rio+20 Conference are giving no indication that the environment will become more than just a concern secondary to the needs of a form of development which, for the time being, is anything but sustainable. However, there is considerable scope for progress in terms of reducing the impact of human activity. The definition of critical priority sustainable development goals, similar to the MDGs, would be a step in this direction and could open up new opportunities.