Skip to main content

Rio+20: Unsustainable outcome reached at UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Political leaders attending the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development have failed to meet the pressing environmental and social challenges that the world faces today, according to Green Cross International President Alexander Likhotal.

“Rio+20 demonstrated a disappointing lack of leadership,” says Mr Likhotal. “The outcome document is grossly lacking inconcrete action.”

“Rio+20 represented a unique possibility for the world, but what started as a zero draft outcome document has seemingly evolved into a zero result statement by today’s end of the conference.”

Green Cross International, which was founded by President Mikhail Gorbachev following the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, was calling upon the leaders to update the view of economic development, and develop a roadmap for transformative action to put the global community onto a path towards truly sustainable development.

Green Cross Brazil President Celso Claro de Oliveira says: “Rio+20 has hidden its lack of results behind the fig leaf of the ‘green economy’, but what does green economy actually mean? It could be relevant if it provides a vision to reorient the global economy from theever-growing marketization of Nature to the needs of the poorest - in a way to meet those needs within the environmental limits of Nature.”

“But for many political leaders, ‘green economy’ is merely a convenient term used to rekindle the same global economy with some environmental-friendly intentions or actions on the side,” Mr de Oliveira says.

“Greening of the economy is not a silverbullet. It should be just one part of what must be a multi-layered response. It is just a step in the direction of sustainability. But adequate and sufficient attention should be given to provision of security, poverty eradication and protection of Nature.”

However, concludes Mr. Likhotal, the overall Rio+20 event, which included strong civil society participation, is not a complete failure. “The Conference’s primary outcome is not about agreements that were reached, or rather not reached, the relative merits and demerits of which will be debated endlessly in the months ahead.

“The most important Rio outcome is the global realization that the balance of things on this planet has shifted irrevocably. Rio marks a shift in the way the world sees, understands and governs itself, something that was vividly shown by the parallel People's Summit of grassroots, civil society networks.”

Green Cross International (GCI) is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through a combination of advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a growing network of national organizations in over 30 countries.

Contacts for interviews, information: