Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NRDC’s Vision for a Different Kind of Earth Summit

Today we host on our blog an article by NRDC, on the kind of inovations the Rio+20 simulations could try out!
by Michael Davidson, Natural Resources Defense Council

From NRDC’s participation in international summits since Stockholm 1972, we recognize the value of gatherings such as Rio+20 in generating real progress on the ground toward environmental goals. Success at Earth Summit 2012 is particularly important given the growing skepticism worldwide about the ability of such international negotiations and gatherings to do anything worthwhile on the huge environmental and economic challenges we face. The summit process will involve thousands of officials, business and civil society leaders throughout the world and a collective investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is critical that this time and energy is not wasted.

In order to realize its potential, we propose the following structure for Earth Summit 2012. A one- to two-day conference simulation based on this will benefit from previous successes and be readily accessible to advanced undergraduate and graduate students. For more information on our priority outcomes for Rio+20, visit .

Three Days of Recognition and Support for Country Actions
The official high-level Rio+20 meeting from June 20-22 must be different than earlier summits.  There is no need for another long Plan of Action or the addition of another treaty to the hundreds that have already been adopted.  The three-day meeting should instead put the spotlight on individual and collective actions of presidents and prime ministers to move toward sustainable development goals. These sessions should:

      Encourage all presidents and prime ministers to use their allotted time for speeches – usually about 5 minutes - to present on the specific sustainable development initiatives, challenges, and needs in their respective countries.
      Create the expectation for new or substantially scaled-up commitments from all countries, which are specific and short-term; and identify partners for technical assistance and coordinating actions. Here are some examples.

     Produce a politically-binding outcomes document of not more than ten pages that recognizes the imminent threat of exceeding our planet’s natural boundaries, the need to move to a new green economy, and recommits governments to act on their promises to move towards sustainable development. Here’s what we think about the current zero draft: on clean energy/climate; oceans; from a youth perspective.
      Generate an appendix of country commitments to the outcomes document that provides a foundation for a registry of such commitments at a new global center for sustainability actions:  

Four Days of Engagement and Cooperation with Major Stakeholders
The period of four days (June 16-19) prior to the official summit provides an unprecedented opportunity to engage sub-national governments, businesses and civil society on an equal footing. These sessions should be coordinated closely and in parallel with the official meeting; they should:

    Invite CEOs of major corporations, local government officials, and civil society leaders to give presentations on sustainable development challenges and opportunities in their sectors.
      Create the expectation for commitments from all major businesses and local governments that are specific and meaningful, and complement or exceed national goals.
      Produce a registry of major stakeholder commitments, which includes robust monitoring and reporting provisions, and is in parallel with the national registry above.

To learn more about NRDC’s Race to Rio campaign, please visit us and sign up for our periodic newsletter at

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