Vienna, 10 July 2012 – “There can be no doubt that the final document of the Rio+20 summit is the outcome of a global balance of interests“, Austrian State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner said in a dialogue event organised by the Vienna Institut für Umwelt-Frieden-Entwicklung (Institute for Environment-Peace-Development, IUFE) to discuss the UN Conference on Environment and Development. “The outcome of the summit is a compromise. Rio+20 was, after all, the largest conference ever organised by the United Nations.” The different stances taken by north and south were the biggest stumbling blocks preventing the implementation of certain ambitious objectives of the EU.
“Even before the Rio+20 conference, Austria contributed a significant share to essential chapters of the negotiations, especially to the topics of energy, water and food security”, Waldner, who was the leader of the Austrian delegation in Rio, said. “The concept of “green economy”, for example, as a basis for sustainable development, enjoyed global appreciation. The EU and its member states succeeded in anchoring the energy objectives of the UN Secretary General, ‘Sustainable Energy for All’, in the final document of the conference. The Environmental Programme of the United Nations (UNEP) was strengthened and a process for the development of Sustainable Development Goals that will be decisive for industrialised nations too, was launched.”
The dialogue about Rio+20 is now being continued. The Sustainable Development Goals need to be specified in detail. At EU level, first meetings of working groups of the Council have already been held, and a respective report is to be submitted to the General Assembly of the UN in the autumn of 2014. Sub-goals and indicators have been defined to monitor the implementation of the summit document, so that the three dimensions of sustainable development – the social, business and environmental dimensions – are equally accounted for.
“What remains of Rio+20 at the end of the day is the fact that huge events like this are still suitable venues for initiating processes and making global progress”, Waldner said. The conference successfully put the spotlights on environment and development and raised the world’s awareness of these issues. All negotiators sat down at one table. “And last but not least, more than 50 billion euros were earmarked for energy projects in the framework of the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative of the UN”, the State Secretary concluded.
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