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Bracketing away our future in Rio?

U.N. Photo/Maria Elisa Franco – A view inside the dedicated pavilion which sits opposite the Rio+20 conference facilities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

IATP’s Shiney Varghese is in Rio participating in the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

Today, as we go into the last day of the official negotiations on the outcome document referred to as the “Future We Want,” well over half the document still remains bracketed. It is clear that the current world leadership is not able to deliver us a consensus document, let alone the future we want. It is still possible that the Brazilian government, as the host of this once in a generation event, might step forward and submit an entirely fresh document fashioned out of thin air, for the world leaders to sign, and save their face. Unfortunatley, it's a certainty, like the 2010 Cancún Climate Agreement brokered by the Mexican government, that this document will be watered down to the least common denominator issues.

So, what are the contentious issues blocking agreement? The primary disagreements appear to be around the Rio Principles, which the G-77 and allies insist on putting back in the text, and others, such as the U.S. government, do not want to be included.

Another seriously contested topic is on the so-called "green economy." Developing countries see sustainable consumption and production as central to any discussion on green economy, while the U.S. does not. The U.S. and several EU countries see ecosystems services (placing a market value on nature) as key to the green economy, while the G-77 and allies would prefer not to have it included at all, preferring a reference to ecosystem protection.

Thus, yesterday in the second working group on the green economy, a frustrated G-77 refused to continue negotiations until there was more clarity on implementation mechanisms.

Today, IATP and allies will hold a side event inside the official forum where we will look at some of the issues that are being discussed here. I will go into the contentious issue of ecosystem services, and its implication for the human rights framework. Paul Quintos of IBON will talk about “rights at risks” campaign, while Anil Naidoo of Council of Canadians will outline the civil society agenda for Rio+20 and beyond. Linda Sheehan of Earth Law Center will put forward proposals on re-envisioning Economic and legal systems that serve “sustainable communities.” David Boys of Public Services International will address the crucial issue of green economy approaches for public services in the context of job security. We meet in T 8, in Rio Centro at 3.30 p.m. today.