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  • Published on: 31 Jan 2012
  • Submitted by: CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • More information

CIVICUS comments on the Rio+20 Zero Draft
CIVICUS Comments on the First Draft of the Rio+20 Zero Draft Document
23 January 2012


CIVICUS believes that the first draft of the Zero Draft document falls short in acknowledging civil society space and participation, democratic freedoms and specific commitments for engaging multi-stakeholders. CIVICUS finds this draft to lack urgency, commitment and legally binding agreements to address and advance the three pillars of sustainable development and halt the swift degradation of the environment. We also believe there is a lack of recognition of the current economic policies that have exacerbated income inequality and enabled systems that benefit an elite few, while undermining social justice and negatively impacting poor and vulnerable populations. Further, the political uprisings and social movements of 2011 underscore mass discontent with current governance systems that relegate civil society to the fringes and prioritize an elite few over the many.

It is imperative that people have the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their lives at the local, national and international level. We believe that ensuring democratic freedoms and civil and political rights, particularly for the most vulnerable populations, is essential in solving the world�s most pressing issues. We also believe that governments should at a minimum guarantee an enabling environment for civil society whose role is central to the creation of inclusive and effective policies on sustainable development. This was also affirmed at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan, South Korea. At a minimum, the following principles to protect civil society should be respected: freedom of association, freedom of expression, the right to operate free from unwarranted state interference, the right to communicate and cooperate, the right to seek and secure funding and the state�s duty to protect.

Renewing Political Commitment:

Para 7 � We reaffirm our commitment to advance progress in implementation of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation. The Rio Principles shall continue to guide the international community and serve as the basis for cooperation, coherence and implementation of agreed commitments.

Add: It is essential that governments reaffirm commitments, to advance aid and development effectiveness, outlined in the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action, Busan Outcome document, as well as the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration.

Para 10 - We recognize that the twenty years since the Earth Summit in 1992 have seen progress and change. There are deeply inspiring examples of progress, including in poverty eradication, in pockets of economic dynamism and in connectivity spurred by new information technologies which have empowered people.

Add: However we also recognize that current challenges cannot be addressed without the guarantee of democratic freedoms, particularly freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression as well as universal access to information.

C. Engaging major groups

Para 17 � We underscore that a fundamental prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in decision-making. Sustainable development requires major groups � women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organisations, local authorities, workers and trade unions, business and industry, the scientific and technological community, and farmers � to play a meaningful role at all levels. It is important to enable all members of civil society to be actively engaged in sustainable development by incorporating their specific knowledge and practical know-how into national and local policy making. In this regard, we also acknowledge the role of national parliaments in furthering sustainable development.

Add: We recognize that in order to actively engage multi-stakeholders in policy making it is essential that an enabling environment for civil society is guaranteed.

Para 18 � We recognize that improved participation of civil society depends upon strengthening the right to access information and building civil society capacity to exercise this right. Technology is making it easier for governments to share information with the public and for the public to hold decision makers accountable. In this regard, it is essential to work towards universal access to information and communications technologies.

Add: Nevertheless, legal and administrative barriers to access information and the internet still exist in many countries and should be removed.

Para 19 � We acknowledge the important role of the private sector in moving towards sustainable development. We strongly encourage business and industry to show leadership in advancing a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Add: We also require business and industry leaders to adopt UN Special Rapporteur John Ruggie�s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a minimum standard and to work towards the adoption of a Convention on Corporate Social Responsibility and Accountability.

Para 21 � We recognize the importance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the global, regional and national implementation of sustainable development strategies. We also recognize the need to reflect the views of children and youth as the issues we are addressing will have a deep impact on the youth of today and the generations that follow.

Add: We also recognize the importance of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and ILO Convention No. 169, with particular attention to Article 6 and 7 stressing consultations with and participation of indigenous and tribal peoples.

Para 23 � We commit ourselves to reinvigorating the global partnership for sustainable development. We recognize that States must work together cooperatively and join with all stakeholders to address the common sustainable development challenges we face.

Add: We recognize there is an urgent need for binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for all state parties to come to agreement on this issue.

Para 24 � We call for a global policy framework requiring all listed and large private companies to consider sustainability issues and to integrate sustainability information within the reporting cycle.

Add: We also call for the adoption of sustainable and socially responsible policies and adherence to the UN Global Compact�s Ten Principles, as a minimum standard.

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