Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment
- Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
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In a ?renewed political commitment for sustainable development?, ForUM strongly advocates that the Rio+20-conference shall be a new starting point for sustainable development, including the implementation of the goals drawn up in Agenda 21 in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, as well as ensuing resolutions. We emphasize the need to critically review the results of the outcome documents of Rio-1992, Johannesburg-2002 and the other major global summits leading up to Rio-2012.
We recognize that governments, institutions and other decision-makers of the world community have failed to solve the most urgent crises humanity has faced: armed conflicts, growing disparities between nations, particularly between countries in the South and countries in the North, a worsening of poverty and hunger, continued and growing human-induced deterioration of the planet?s ecosystem leading to loss of biodiversity, desertification, deforestation, acidification of the oceans and threatening levels of global warming and climate change.
We also recognize that the prevailing economic system and policies are major causes of social and ecological imbalances of the planet. The recent financial crisis and its enduring and deepening consequences for the world economy and for the worsening of life-circumstances for large parts of the world?s population show that the current economic model has indeed been a hindrance for implementing the aims and strategies of Agenda 21.
We therefore welcome the initiative to focus on the transition to a green and inclusive, sustainable economy at the Rio+20-conference in June 2012. Such an economy must be in accordance with the definition of ?sustainable development? as it was given in ?Our Common Future? in 1987: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
We are aware of the necessity to transform the dominating values from the ideals and goals of economic and material growth with excessive belief in technology and efficiency - to a growth in life quality independent of unsustainable consumption patterns and exploitation of cheap human labor. A ?green economy? must be an ?economy of sufficiency? for all.
We realize that social, economic and environmental developments are three spheres inextricably intertwined. A substantially transformed and green economy must therefore be aimed for increasing social justice, equity and healthy eco-systems.
We also recognize the urgent need to develop and strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development including the governance of the implementation of the internationally agreed goals of sustainable development at all levels; nationally, regionally and globally - involving both women and men as well as youth.
As we recognize nature?s limits as identified in The Nine Planetary Boundaries - and what she can endure concerning waste and pollution - we also recognize the huge potential capacity of individuals and of the human community in facing challenges and solving problems in a constructive way. This we want to see manifested in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.
To meet the challenges mentioned, ForUM will point to the following:
FIRST AND FOREMOST
A main challenge for the immediate future will be to bridge the gap between rich countries and poor countries ? as well as to bridge the growing gaps within countries. People living in poverty have the right to a decent livelihood including clean and affordable water, food, shelter, education, health-care and possibilities for unfolding cultural activities.
A green and inclusive economic growth in developing countries is necessary to achieve social justice and welfare for all.
The wealthy countries should declare their willingness towards the least developed countries (LDCs) to take responsibility for the socio-economic and ecological - including climate-related - debts that industrialized countries have accumulated in the past.
This implies a substantial transfer of financial and technological resources from the North to the South.
ON ?GREEN ECONOMY?
A ?green economy? has several goals; we highlight two:
1): To secure that production and consumption does not exceed the limits of the planet?s ability to deliver its eco-systems? services and
2): to facilitate a just sharing of resources globally.
A green economy must be developed at the local, national, regional and global level. The bottom-up-approach will be of importance. The complexity of nature and the diversity of cultures demand a diversity of economic models.
We are concerned that the term ?green economy? may be used as a means to ?green-wash? unsustainable political and economic activities.
The rich countries owe the developing world support to increase and develop green production and processing of products. National markets in developing countries and these countries? opportunities on the world market must not be undermined by rich countries' export-subsidies.
A global green economy is about balance in the human community as well as in the ecosystems. The consumption within a number of areas must be reduced in the rich world, while it needs to be raised for people in poor countries and areas. Justice is about the just allocation of resources / benefits and the fair distribution of ecological footprint.
To achieve this, the Rio-conference should call upon governments to inter alia:
? Practice ?green taxation?;
? Phase out subsidies leading to negative environmental impacts globally, like subsidies to fossil fuels, bio-fuel and nuclear energy, chemical fertilizers and over-fishing etc;
? Donor countries should provide financial and technological support to developing countries in order to stimulate green economy initiatives;
? Eliminate developing countries? illegitimate debt.
For both North and South it is important to create new indicators of wealth creation, or what is known as "sustainable welfare "- to replace or complement the GNP / GDP ? discourse. We therefore call upon all governments to:
? Support and further develop such initiatives as UNEP?s System of Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA), Green Accounting or Inclusive Wealth Accounting. Such initiatives must be based on appropriate domestic and fiscal measures and policy reforms.
ON ?GREENING OF THE FINANCE SECTOR?
The transition to a green and inclusive economy requires a thorough reform of the financial sector. The financial economy must be a tool that serves the real economy. The Rio+20-conference should take the initiative to implement restrictions on that part of the financial industry that engages in speculation - often under the name of "investments". Speculation in basic human needs such as water, food, land, minerals, health care etc. must be prevented through the states' control or regulation. The introduction of tax on financial transactions can help limit speculation and provide funds that can be allocated to key areas of development - especially in the South.
The Rio+20-conference should therefore call upon governments to:
? Ban speculation on water, food, land, minerals, health care and other human basic needs;
? Restrict investments in financial instruments not related to real commodities and services;
? Urge all governments to establish a Financial Transaction Tax.
Developing a financial sector serving sustainable development is demanding and will require strong efforts in which representatives from governments, the economic and financial sector and civil society must come together as equal partners. This should take place at national and international levels.
We therefore urge the Rio-conference to:
? Initiate and establish an international platform for the research and development on how to cure the financial system.
Populations in poor urban and rural areas shall all have equal access to modern, renewable and affordable energy. We recognize the poor countries? need to substantially increase per capita energy consumption in order to combat poverty.
Rich countries dependent on finite energy resources must reduce their energy consumption, enhance energy efficiency and change to renewable energy forms.
The Rio-conference should call upon the world?s governments to:
? Set clear targets for universal energy access and an increase in energy supply from renewable sources;
? Develop low carbon energy plans;
? Support the research on and development of green energy technology;
? Support the development and production of green and renewable energy through tax incentives, feed-in tariffs, subsidies etc.
ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
A sustainable, small-scale farming adapted to ecological conditions is a major solution to environmental and social imbalances as well as lack of food security. Building upon the document ?Time to act? we call on governments to:
? Ensure that agriculture in all its dimensions be a core issue at the UN CSD in Rio and subsequently in global policy and practice;
? Give strong and increasing support to small scale, agro-ecological and other forms of sustainable, ecological food production;
? Commit the UN ? in 2012 to a negotiating process leading to an international technology assessment (bio, nano and geo-engineering) and information mechanism that strengthens national sovereignty and choice and respects the Precautionary principle and builds the capacity of developing countries and communities to assess the health, environmental, economic and social impacts of new and emerging technologies;
? Underline that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities must be respected. That industrialized countries should pay their ecological and climate debt to developing countries, including payment for damages caused by their historical greenhouse gas emissions.
? Set robust targets to address inefficient and unsustainable use of water.
The Rio+20-conference should encourage governments to adhere to the principles of participation, accountability and transparency concerning decision-making in the fields of environment and sustainability. We therefore call on governments to:
? Support initiatives to upgrade Principle 10 of the Rio-principles (1992) to a framework convention on global and regional levels.
ForUM also supports a number of initiatives for strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development at global level. We therefore call upon governments to:
? Strengthen and upgrade UNEP to a ?specialized agency?;
? Establish a Council on Sustainable Development on par with the Council on Human Rights (UN HRC);
? Provide a mechanism within the Council on Sustainable Development to deal with emerging issues;
? Develop a framework convention incorporating the Precautionary principle dealing with new and emerging technologies, bio-engineering and nano-technology;
? Develop a framework for including sustainable development as an integral part of the curriculum of educational systems at all levels.