Report from BioRegional's official side event at RioCentro
Report from Rio 15.06.12
Simon McWhirter writes from BioRegional's official UN side event at the Rio+20 Summit on 16 June 2012.
It wasn’t quite "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..." but in the absence of a binding treaty mandating global political action, one of the primary desired outcomes from the Rio+20 UN conference is "Give us your voluntary commitments, your promises to create a more sustainable future."
Something akin to a Communion, at our official side event at the UN conference there was a giving and receiving of commitments from all of our One Planet Partners – ranging from One Planet Favelas to global sustainable timber sourcing.
This was the ideal wrap-up to our government and process-focussed session – snappily titled SDGs, National Implementation Plans and the One Planet Living Framework: Securing a Sustainable Equitable Future for All Post-Rio +20.
With at least ten* countries sending their delegates to the event, it was clear that there is a real thirst for the sort of framework for sustainable development that One Planet Living provides.
It was to be a multi-functional event geared towards: inspiring attendees with examples of OPL sustainability in practice; announcing the new open source, learning projects within One Planet Living; updating on the negotiation process itself and to deliver the desired commitments (which will form part of the Rio+20 UNCSD Compendium of Commitments).
In terms of the negotiation detail we focussed – thanks to the deft manoeuvring of Chair Jan-Gustav Strandenaes of Stakeholder Forum - in particular on the Sustainable Development Goals and National Implementation Plans as important outcomes of Rio+20.
Lauding One Planet Living as a unique combination of mind and matter, Jan-Gustav introduced Surendra Shrestha, the Director of Strategic Resource Mobilization of UNEP, who gave the initial update on the negotiations process. Thankfully recognising the need to move beyond GDP as the accepted metric of choice, Surendra was at pains to emphasise that whatever comes out of the process will need to better bridge the north-south divide that those things that have gone before.
Morocco's official delegate to the conference, and a member of their permanent mission to the UN, Faiçal Souissi, echoed this last comment and gave an insightful if depressing assessment of the state of play. This was a personal reflection rather than an official country submission, but was clear nonetheless – the new, current version of UN multilateralism has well and truly moved from a friendly to a decidedly confrontational format: “The world is divided between north and south; developed and developing.”
Following a One Planet Living refresher for the audience, by way of the new film, BioRegional CEO Sue Riddlestone kicked off the commitment confessional with the BioRegional promises:
- To work with five countries to pilot the One Planet Living approaches at a national level
- To work with the local community in Rio to enable an aspirational One Planet lifestyle in poorer communities by 2015
- To enable the One Planet Living approach and framework to be more widely used and available through communications, e-learning, and training 10,000 people by 2015.
The deluge of uber-commitments from One Planet Partners then continued, with the London Borough of Sutton pledging to introduce a decentralised energy network for the borough for by 2020, and Kingfisher committed to source their entire global timber and paper supplies from 100% responsible sources by 2020.
Considering their global businesses require a forest the size of Switzerland every year to meet all their timber requirements, this will be no mean feat.
Cross-continental One Planet Partners Imbera and China Merchants Property Development (CMPD) rounded off with further promises.
Imbera, the world’s third largest manufacturer of refrigeration equipment, based out of Mexico, will revitalize their design and development processes to:
- Reduce their products' energy consumption by 20% by 2015, and
- To increase the proportion of eco-friendly refrigerants in their coolers by 50% by 2015
And Jason Hu, Vice President of CMPD announced that they would commit to develop the first zero carbon office building in southern China and would build a Green Building Demonstration Zone in their Jinshan development.
So, literally a session full of promise.
Jan-Gustav finished by commending the extraordinary enthusiasm and momentum that Sue and the "unstoppable force" of Freya Seath have delivered to the development of the Rio+20 process.
* That is over 5% of the world’s 190 nations who are involved here! – including Ivory Coast, Niger, Fiji, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Botswana, and our speaker Faiçal, the mission member for the Morocco delegation.NB.
At Rio+20 a BioRegional delegation has been hosting a series of events and meetings with government and civil society groups on how the One Planet Living framework can deliver true, sustainable living. One Planet Living at Rio+20.
One Planet Living
One Planet Living is a positive vision of a world in which we live happy, healthy lives, within the natural limits of the planet.Find out more