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  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
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Proposals for Rio+20:

Sustainable Development Needs a New Impetus

Almost twenty years ago the UN Conference on Environment and Development was held in Rio de Janeiro and launched the unique global process for transition to sustainable development. Rio process gave a powerful impulse for understanding and re-thinking of the realities of the modern world, threats to its existence and how to resolve the crisis. As Rio-92 follow-up a lot of action at all levels have been implemented with many positive results. However, in total the humanity failed to reverse the dangerous trends, which continued to deepen.

We urge governments at Rio+20 Summit:

To recognize the need to intensity efforts for transition to sustainable development. It is necessary to decide on launching elaboration of global Sustainable Development Goals for the period starting from 2016. Every country should set its targets for achieving of SDGs and develop a strategy to meet the targets.

International assistance to meet Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals should be increased. All developed countries should respect their earlier made commitments on allocation of 0.7% of GNP to official development assistance. These commitments should be reaffirmed at Rio+20 Summit. In parallel, it is necessary to focus on improvement of efficiency of the assistance provided, on mobilisation of national sources and on search for innovative funding mechanisms. In the course of selecting spheres of international development assistance, donor countries and international finance institutions should account for decisions of Rio+20, in particular the ones pertaining to transition to "green economy".

Transition from "brown economy" to "green economy" is vital:

1. Rio+20 should declare setting a course for transition to "green economy". It is necessary to develop and approve a clear system of "green economy" indicators at the international level and a cumulative "green economy" index relying on these indicators.

2. Governments should commit to provide favourable preconditions for transition to "green economy", including use of market mechanisms and incentives for private investments into development of "green businesses", improvement of the legal framework, tax reforms, focusing governmental procurements and expenditures in spheres that stimulate green economic sectors and imposing limitations on expenditures that destroy the natural capital base, termination of inefficient subsidies.

3. By 2013, all countries should develop Roadmaps for transition to "green economy" and agree on cooperation in exchange of information, best practices and on assistance in capacity building. A Roadmap should stipulate phased implementation of specific measures to alter existing production and consumption patterns, accompanied by clear indicators and deadlines.

4. Many developing countries and transition economies require assistance for elaboration and implementation of policies of transition to "green economy". Relevant capacity building programs should be developed at the international level, including inter alia practical recommendations and best practices of different countries.

8. Policies for transition to "green economy" should not pursue environmental objectives only, they also should address social problems, poverty eradication, public health, social equality and job creation. Needs of the poorest and most vulnerable groups should be accounted for, as well as development needs of developing countries and transition economies.

9. Large scale actions are needed to enhance understanding of "green economy" concept and policies by different stakeholders, including governmental bodies (ministry of economic, environmental and social blocks), business community and the general public. "Green economy" should be integrated into education curricula. Earth Charter as an ethical code of sustainable development can be used. The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development should be extended beyond 2014 with a focus on education for green economy.

5. Assessment of ecosystem services should become a key element of sustainable development. Further development of monetary valuation of ecosystem services and incorporation of costs of these services into operational economic models are the key tasks, that, if addressed, would allow to stop ecosystem losses. It is necessary to build a complex of legal, administrative and economic mechanisms at local, regional, national and international levels. Measures, that allow to do it, should form the framework of roadmaps of sustainable development at all levels and should be incorporated into national state reporting systems. The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services should be provided with a clear institutional framework, resolutions of the Biodiversity Convention on funding mechanisms and inter-sectoral interaction should be implemented.

6. International community should intensify efforts to address one of the most pressing threats - climate change. Actions in the sphere should pay more attention to boreal forests - a global and generally stable carbon sink. Existing climate conventions do not account for carbon conservation functions of boreal forests. In future climate treaties, artificial restrictions on carbon offsets for carbon sequestration by boreal forests should be lifted.

17. At Rio+20 Summit countries should agree on gradual phase-out of inefficient subsidies to fossil fuel. Fossil fuel subsidies do not promote efficient and rational use of energy resources, they contribute to climate change and make application of renewable energy unprofitable. Such steps should account for potential social consequences and should be accompanied by relevant reforms in interests of the whole society, including the most vulnerable social groups. As bio-fuel production can also create problems for sustainable development, in particular food price rise, it is necessary to review national measures of supporting bio-ethanol production and use and, if it is necessary, to reduce them substantially or to withdraw them completely.

10. A framework convention on sound chemicals management, relying on existing international and regional chemical treaties should be developed. The framework convention should seek to minimise, by 2020, adverse health and environmental impacts of chemicals production and use. Such legally binding international treaty would allow to use a comprehensive approach to management of hazardous chemicals and waste, to enhance national and international actions for sound chemicals management and for implementation of key activity dimensions stipulated by Agenda 21.

14. It is necessary to secure a sufficient number of ratifications to ensure that Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal will become effective by 2016 (the amendment provides for the global ban on export of hazardous waste to developing countries, including electronic waste). The international community should forever ban transformation of developing countries into a toxic waste dump. Developed countries have sufficient financial resources to address problems of sound hazardous waste management within their national borders.

11. Human health should be central while implementing priority objectives of environmental degradation including depletion of natural resources, poor water and air quality result in the rise of some chronic disease. Vulnerable groups are most affected. Urgent measures are needed to treat and prevent chronic diseases caused by environmental impact on human health as well as elaboration of international regulatory base on environmental and health risk assessment with further economic assessment of these risks. We call on governments and international organisations to develop an awareness raising and educational system on environmental health issues focused on women and the most vulnerable groups on a first- priority basis.

12. Governments should intensify their efforts to ensure food security. It is necessary to intensify activities for establishment of regional systems of food reserves for humanitarian emergencies, that might be also used to mitigate adverse consequences of sharp volatility of food prices. In order to reduce food losses and waste after harvesting, it is necessary to provide for opportunities of access of developing countries and economies in transition to modern technologies of processing, storage, packaging, transportation and marketing of agricultural products. Countries should promote active application of agro-environmental agricultural practices that improve harvest yield, improve nutritional value of products and reduce countries' reliance on application of pesticides.

12. It is necessary to develop, by 2020, a global program for elimination of accumulated environmental liabilities, providing for allocation of necessary and sufficient funding to address priority problems. A polluter pays principal should be fully implemented to ensure producer responsibility. Control of the program implementation should be supported by relevant legislative frameworks at the international and national levels. Priority attention should be paid to addressing the problem of accumulated hazardous industrial waste, including stockpiles of banned and obsolete pesticides and agricultural chemicals, as well as mining waste. It is necessary to implement comprehensive actions for rehabilitation and safe use of contaminated areas, accounting for economic and environmental prospects of their further use.

16. The transition to green economy necessitates greening the trade. Trade should not be an obstacle, it should become a tool of green economy. Governments should agree to change multilateral trade system, to make it a promoter of sustainable development to the maximal extent possible in particular, new rules are necessary in the sphere of regulation of subsidies and investments that would encourage their "desirable" forms in terms of transition to "green economy" and discourage "undesirable" ones.

15. At Rio+20 Summit countries should agree on development of global institutional mechanisms, promoting international R&D cooperation in all spheres associated with "green growth", and accelerating dissemination of technologies in developing countries and transition economies. It is necessary to adjust the international regime of protection of intellectual property rights, including inter alia a broader application of compulsory licensing practices, and higher incentives for development and dissemination of innovations to make economy greener.

Transition to green economy requires improvement of governance

18. Transition to green economy necessitates improvement of governance at all levels. Governments should acknowledge the need to strengthen UNEP and to enhance its status to that of a specialised UN agency.

19. National Sustainable Development Councils should be established in every country and should operate on a transparent basis with participation of all stakeholders. It is necessary to develop performance indicators for NSDCs, to ensure their regular reporting and monitoring of their activities.

20. To develop, by 2015, a Global convention on access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice on environmental matters. Access to information and public participation are necessary for open and responsible governance and decision-making. A swift development of the Convention and its entry into force would allow to guarantee efficient public participation in development of green economy. The Convention should provide for commitments on launching Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTPs).

21. It is necessary to establish a specialised ECOSOC unit on sustainable development. In particular, such unit might assess progress in terms of green economy indicators/indices, and produce surveys of countries' sustainable development/green economy policies at the base of national materials and external assessments.

Recommendation have been prepared by Eco-Accord in cooperation with EECCA (Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia) Trade and Sustainable Development Network) with contribution of Association for Sustainable Human Development (Armenia); Biotica (Moldova); Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution (Russia); Rostok (Russia); Volgograd-Ecopress (Russia); Oxfam (Russia); EKA (Russia); Rainbow/Youth for Environment and Sustainable Development ; Russian Chemists Union; Institute of Water Problems, Russian Academy of Scientists; Institute of Humanitarian and Economic Problems of Food Security (Russia); Academy of Quality Problems (Russia); Dubna Regional Environmental Center (Russia); InterEcoPravo Center (Russia); Moscow State University (Russia); Center for Forest Ecology and Productivity, Russian Academy of Scientists (Russia).
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