Negotiations on the final declaration of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development are drawing to a close, with some observers reporting that a final text is ready for heads of state and government to rubberstamp. The international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE denounces the current text, which fails to do what the world urgently needs for a more sustainable and just future.
“If the text stays as it is, this conference will be a historic failure. While the poorest and most vulnerable people will pay first, the future for all human beings and the planet looks grim because of the lack of resolve of our political leaders,” said CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles said.
The private sector
Antonio Manganella of CIDSE’s French member CCFD-Terre Solidaire said: “The text gives priority to markets and growth, and presents the inclusion of private sector in governance and international cooperation as a panacea. Countries like France are insisting upon public-private partnerships, even by those who have already experienced their limitations.”
The text fails to address the responsibility of companies, especially multinational corporations, in our unsustainable economy. They do not have to account for their negative social and environmental impacts and human rights violations.
Negotiators do not seem to realise that this irresponsible behaviour is one of the main contributing factors to the global problems which Rio+20 is expected to answer.
The full realisation of human rights is crucial for sustainable development. Governments cannot transfer this obligation, increasing the role of the private sector while only asking for voluntary corporate responsibility in crucial sectors such as agriculture and extractives.
The text refers to the voluntary UN Global Compact, criticized even by UN auditors, failing to reference the new UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, agreed in June 2011, which includes regulation.
“Voluntary reporting will not stop human rights violations. We need mandatory corporate reporting on the social, environmental and human rights impacts of companies’ operations at home and abroad,” said CIDSE policy officer Denise Auclair.
Climate change and agriculture
There is no reference in the text to concrete measures to address the interlinkages between climate change and agriculture, urgently needed to ensure food security for the most vulnerable.
“The text contains carrots, but no sticks. There is no mention of regulatory measures to tackle climate change, only incentives for private investment in agriculture,” Anika Schroeder of CIDSE’s German member Misereor said.
Sustainable Development Goals
For CIDSE, the social, environmental and economical challenges of development require a single, integrated development framework when the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015. “Governments are squabbling to agree who will lead yet another international initiative the exact purpose of which remains undefined. The new set of goals must deliver positive change for the world’s poorest people who don’t classify the food, water, energy, and clean air they depend on as either poverty or environment issues – they just want to survive and live decent lives,” said Bernadette Fischler of CIDSE UK member CAFOD.
For more information or interviews with CIDSE’s policy experts and high-level delegation members at the RioCentro please contact email@example.com, +55 21 71852023, cidse.org/rioplus20