Conference notes: 27th March

I’ve never felt quite comfortable with the official vision of the Planet Under Pressure 2012 event to “provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Rio+20 conference.” Events across the pond are further unsettling the suspect synchronisation between the two events.

The latest round of formal preparatory talks for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) started on Monday. Civil society organisations have already blown a fuse over their treatment:

We are concerned by the continuing exclusion of Major Groups from the formal negotiating process of the Rio+20 zero draft

The protest letter to the UNCSD Secretary-General goes on to allege that their suggested revisions to the text “have so far not been included.”

The nine Major Groups recognised by the UN process include science and technology. The International Council for Science is not currently listed amongst the letter’s signatories. Perhaps the London conference should provide some encouragement, if only for its own legitimacy.

There’s an even more worrying accusation in the civil society protest:

we are witnessing an attempt by certain countries to weaken, or “bracket” or outright eliminate nearly all references to human rights obligations and equity principles in the text, “The Future We Want”, for the outcome of Rio+20.

This would be consistent with the trend reported from the World Water Forum held in Marseille earlier this month.

Even before the UNCSD proceedings began, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts were sufficiently alarmed to compile an open letter to world governments insisting that universally agreed international human rights be incorporated into the UN Rio+20 document.

This matters to the Planet Under Pressure conference because it has invested considerable energy into the cause of global food and water security. Without the solid foundation that rights-based development provides, these efforts will be diminished.

Tomorrow sees the media launch of major policy recommendations for achieving food security by the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. Sir John Beddington in his capacity as Commission chair (as opposed to the UK government’s chief scientific adviser) should be encouraged to support the position of the UN experts.


this article was first published by OneWorld UK