Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL))
- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the compilation document to serve as a
zero draft for an outcome at the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio. The Center for International
Environmental Law offers the following comments:
I. Views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap
With respect to implementation, it is important to include not only the UN system and its
associated nation stales but also international financial institutions (particularly the Bretton
Woods institutions, of which only the World Bank is recognized as a specialized agency of the
UN), civil society (including the recognized major groups), and the international trade regime.
Within the UN system, it is vital to consider not only the different UN agencies and multilateral
environmental agreements but also the overall UN human rights system as an anchor component
for sustainable development.
First, with respect to international financial institutions, any Rio+20 outcome should
address the relationship between the UN and Bretton Woods institutions .such as the World Bank.
Given that the World Bank is a specialized agency of the UN, the outcome should make clear
that international instruments (including, but not limited to, multilateral environmental
agreements such as the UNFCCC, CBD, and CCD; human lights obligations; and the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) must be respected and supported by
international financial institutions in the fulfillment of their mandates.
Second, within the UN system; UN agencies need to improve their institutional
approaches to addressing and implementing international obligations. Opportunities in this area
to address the implementation gap include supporting efforts by UN agencies to create and
maintain institutional safeguards grievance mechanisms, consistent with relevant international
Third, as regards major groups, the 1992 Earth Summit was a landmark moment for the
major groups recognized as integral stakeholders lo negotiations. The ability of NGOs, women,
youth, and others to take the floor alongside countries was formally recognized as a part of the
Rio process and has had important implications for public participation generally. Likewise,
improved access to information was an important outcome of Agenda 21. Implementation has
had mixed success, with some fora increasingly opening participation to major groups while in
others participation has been limited The experiences of civil society should be recognized as
relevant and vital contributions in any process. Rio+20 gives us a chance to reaffirm these
important principles of transparency, access to information, and participation and support
increased opportunities for civil society generally, and potentially impacted communities
specifically, to engage in participatory monitoring and assist with reporting information to the
Two themes crucially important to this implementation gap are accountability and
It is crucial that any discussions of institutional governance support enhanced
accountability in the sense that institutions must be responsible for their actions (including
unintended adverse impacts) and responsive to concerns raised in the implementation of
activities. Accountability should cover the full panoply of actors. This includes governments
and corresponding international obligations and compliance regimes. It also includes
international organizations, including environmental and social safeguard policies, accountability
mechanisms, and international dispute settlement mechanisms. Accountability also pertains to
non-state actors, particularly corporations (including compliance considerations, corporate
policies, and financial institutions) but also labor unions, certification organizations, NGOs, and
others. Indeed, the rise of globalization and its associated empowerment of international
corporations, means that increasingly non-stale actors play a greater role in development with
less historical accountability for its associated impacts.
For concrete actions related to accountability, at. Rio 2012, Heads of State should: (1)
recognize and emphasize the need for increased accountability - domestically and internationally
- in order to address the serious problems facing human society and make progress toward
sustainable development, in particular by increasing implementation and effectiveness of
commitments and obligations, in a world of multiple actors and different types of commitments;
and (2) strongly endorse domestic and international actions to achieve this. Additionally, Rio
2012 should provide space for dialogue to improve clarity on the application of extraterritorial
Financial resources for implementation of obligations have fallen far short of what
assessments indicate arc required. Additional resources must be mobilized. For example, the
Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) identified an
estimated $4.5 billion USD needed for financial resources and technical assistance. However,
the 5th replenishment of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF 5). the only financial
mechanism of the Stockholm Convention, allocated merely S375 million USD for POPs (U.S.
$425 for Chemicals overall). Given historical trends, this will typically leverage about $700
million USD in co-financing. Recognizing the need for greater information regarding challenges
on the implementation of treaty obligations, the funding gap is substantial and unlikely to be
closed simply by a reduction of implementation barriers and inefficiencies. This funding gap is
not unique to chemicals. For example, while costs for limiting global warming to a two degree
target vary widely, annual amounts of $100 billion USD have been identified as a minimum
estimate needed, with delay compounding the cost of both mitigation and adaptation. A portion
of the financing has been committed, but the timing, source and hence impact of these funds is
still to be determined. Given resource limitations, integrating human rights considerations into
the prioritization of resource allocation is essential.
II. Specific Elements
a. Objective of the conference
CIEL sees particular opportunities in the following sectors:
1. Human rights
Earth Summit 2012 gives us a chance to consider rights and ecosystems together, both
from an institutional governance perspective and in the green economy context. Institutionally,
the UN system mandates a rights-based approach and any green economy must also respect
human rights. The linkages between a green economy and environment mirror those that exist
between governance and human Tights. Accordingly, identifying and strengthening the links
between the green economy and governance also calls for a deepening of the relationship
between human rights and the environment. In this regard, Rio2012 has before it a binary
choice: either it makes progress on the linkages between human rights and the environment or it
will take a step back. A missed opportunity in Rio 2012 would be most regrettable, not only
given the theme of the conference and the progress already made in identifying the human rights
and environment linkages, but also because the planet requires the development of new tools to
secure global environmental justice. Rio 2012 must take decisive steps toward the recognition of
the right to environment.
Early on in the Rio+20 negotiations, REDD+ was cited as a unique area in which UN
institutions and the World Bank are collaborating. Indeed, negotiation of a common approach to
REDD+ between the World Bank, UN institutions, and other multilateral development banks,
provided a novel opportunity to consider accountability and specific social and environmental
protections in the context of institutional governance. Similarly, Rio+20 offers an opportunity to
further address how UNFCCC obligations (including REDD+ safeguards), UNDRIP, CBD
REDD safeguards, and human rights treaties can be respected throughout the implementation of
REDD+. In addition to safeguards being elaborated within the UNFCCC, the CBD is also
developing safeguards for REDD. Given that both the CBD and UNFCCC arc Rio conventions,
it is important to ensure coherence between these two conventions, particularly for REDD+.
Biodiversity should not be adversely affected in efforts to address climate change and the
safeguards developed by each regime should be mutually respected and supported to ensure
sustainable development. Additionally, beyond die particular REDD+ safeguards, Rio+20
provides an opportunity for other institutions (such as the UNFCCC) to learn how the CBD has
negotiated and implemented access to benefit sharing and FP1C7P1C.
Regarding coherence and linkages across institutions related to REDD+ activities, CIEL
believes that successful efforts to reduce deforestation require clear and equitable rights. We
thus find troubling the statements by some actors within the UNFCCC that it is a climate
convention and not a human rights convention. Nor does the World Bank directly respect human
rights obligations. Unfortunately, that narrow focus and short-sighted perspective threatens to
compromise results. There are very few places where we can have a discussion across these
regimes on how rights should be respected. REDD+ efforts will benefit if we can improve the
global understanding of-and support for-the rights of forest-dependent local communities.
Rio+20 provides an opportunity to affirm the broadly recognized need to respect international
obligations in the implementation of REDD+ and other sustainable development activities.
b. Green Economy
Experience to date indicates that the economic pillar has historically outweighed the
social and environmental pillars. Consequently, economic development has often had the effect
of exacerbating inequality and creating human health risks by ineffectively addressing
environmental risks. One way this has been addressed in the past is through safeguards systems'
at international institutions, and particularly at the Bretton Woods institutions. The UN system
has an opportunity to build on these lessons learned and to consider what institutional policies
for UN agencies can minimize social and environmental harms while maximizing benefits.
Specifically, UN agencies can develop institutional safeguards and improve internal
accountability in order to enhance sustainable development outcomes. This will be discussed
further in the institutional framework section below.
One particular sectoral element of the green economy that Rio+20 could consider is the
use of technology to promote innovation in the developed world. The ability for intellectual
property to serve as a barrier to the transfer of technologies to the global South on fair and
reasonable terms is a highly sensitive issue and well documented in certain contexts. In
addition, sensitivities also exist around the patenting of genetic resources and traditional
knowledge originating with indigenous peoples, local communities, or the developing world at
large. These issues not only risk the delay the transition to a balanced green economy, but also
risk undermining the integrity of international conventions, for example if restrictions are used
by intellectual property rights-holders to gain market share for higher-priced proprietary
technologies. Temporary resolutions have emerged; however, broader reform of innovation
policies is necessary to advance a green economy, by both maintaining incentives for innovation
without sacrificing access to beneficial technologies. Rio+20 could contribute to the beneficial
use of technologies for sustainable development by identifying and supporting options beyond
intellectual property rights to spur innovation.
c. Institutional framework for sustainable development
Promoting linkages across institutions and enhancing accountability within institutions
should be a central theme to strengthening implementation and integration of the three pillars and
at multiple levels. It is important to consider how these institutions, as well as the objectives and
outcomes of the Rio+20 conference, will feed into the Millennium Development Goals.
We must avoid a "race to the bottom," in which the institutions with the weakest
standards are the ones selected to implement sustainable development activities. The GEF,
UNFCCC, and some UN agencies are now developing new safeguards and accountability
systems (including grievance mechanisms). In this vein, Rio+20 provides an opportunity to
consider safeguards as part of institutional governance discussions, and indeed safeguards have
already been raised as a part of die 2012 Earth Summit negotiations. Generally speaking, UN
institutions lack the detailed safeguards developed by the international financial institutions.
Rio+20 has an opportunity to support enhanced safeguards systems at international institutions
that respect rights and ecosystems. Notably, where this would apply within the UN itself, this
kind of mandate would not require a treaty-level outcome to make it happen, which could
facilitate implementation of such a decision.