The Future We Want…..Tomorrow?

earthYou may not know it, but countries from around the world are locked in negotiations right now on ‘The Future We Want’ at the Rio+20 Summit. As with most United Nations conferences, tense negotiations by senior envoys take place for up to 10 days prior to the 2-3 day high level meeting that follows. The shorter high level meeting is attended by Ministers and Heads of State who officially sign off on any agreement the negotiators have ironed out. In this case, the meeting is being held in in Rio de Janeiro, where the high level part of the proceedings will run from 20-22 June. Today is 19 June, so ‘the future we want’ is being decided tomorrow.

I’ve previoulsy explained a bit about the conference  in All Roads Lead to Rio, so I won’t repeat myself here. What I will do is give you a quick update on what is happening – gleaned from the myriad of reports and news items coming out of the conference (no I’m not in Rio right now). Here goes.…..

….Brazil, the host country, has been strong in encouraging the negotiators to reach agreement on the official communique ‘The Future We Want’, so that leaders have something to sign off on when they arrive tomorrow (Wednesday).To facilitate this, they released a 50 page draft text on 16 June. Unlike Mexico, which had success in shepherding the sherpas and envoys in Cancun for the 2010 UN Climate Conference, the response of negotiators this time indicates its effect has been more a la Copenhagen 2009, when negotiators baulked at perceived interference. So, while it looked promising on Monday that there might be some sort of agreement reached, talks appear likely to continue through today (Tuesday). Depending on who you believe, hopes are both high and low for reaching some level of agreement. High if you don’t hope for much in the way of ambition – low if you were hoping for concrete and binding commitments. It is possible and likely (if negotiations don’t derail and countries don’t choose now to become prickly politically) that there will be agreement on the idea of Sustainable Development Goals. This is the idea of the goals, not the goals themselves (as far as I know, that plan was abandoned earlier this year when draft goals created too much controversy). If the idea is agreed to, then it would open the way to further negotiations to decide what these goals should be. It would be a truly newsworthy and magnificent feat of global diplomacy if actual goals were announced in the next few days. I guess we can live in hope……

If this short update hasn’t confused you and you’re keen to know more, I recommend these articles by the Guardian, Bloomberg, and the New York Times:

UN Envoys Close to Deal on Energy, Sustainability Goals 

Rio+20 Earth summit moves to boost UN environment programme

Global Economy Limits Expectations at Earth Summit in Brazil

Rio+20 negotiators accused of strong-arm tactics

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