Daily report for 21 June 2012

Rio Conventions Pavilion at Rio+20

The Rio Conventions Pavilion continued on Thursday, 21 June, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Rio Conventions. The morning began with a breakfast of the Rio Convention COP Presidencies. Four panel sessions addressed: the launch of the pilot partnership on national implementation of synergies among the Rio Conventions; the launch of Mozambique’s Green Economy Roadmap; why the three Rio Conventions are Critical to Achieving Poverty Eradication; and how the UN system can better integrate environment within the development framework. The celebration concluded with a high-level panel and reception in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Conventions.


Jaime Webbe, CBD Secretariat, introduced the panel. Gustavo Fonseca, GEF, thanked the CBD for taking leadership and pushing the GEF in the direction of a synergetic approach among the Rio Conventions. He highlighted several examples illustrating what is happening on the ground to achieve the objectives of the three Rio Conventions, fostering improved natural resource management and global environmental benefits through joint designs of GEF funded projects, including in Jamaica and Guatemala.

Luiz Gonzalez, Coordinator, Drought and Desertification, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Guatemala, highlighted experience in implementing an integrated approach to achieve multiple environmental benefits utilizing the GEF5/ STAR fund. Noting the approach was informed by past lessons in implementing sectoral projects that were too small and uncoordinated to achieve impact, he stressed that a process-oriented approach focused on deriving maximum benefits for rural communities is the best way to strengthen land and forest management, biodiversity conservation and enhance ecosystem resilience to climate change.

Anthony Lecern, Minister in Charge of Sustainable Development, Government of New Caledonia, welcomed an integrated initiative addressing the objectives of all three Rio Conventions, stressing New Caledonia’s exceptional biodiversity in its fauna and flora, and marine areas requires management and protection from threats such as fires, evasive species, urban developments, over-exploitation of resources and climate change.

Responding to participants’ questions on accessing GEF funding, Fonseca noted a synergetic approach helps to leverage support from other donors. He informed particpants that GEF has developed a separate funding window to encourage countries to “go the extra mile,” in developing and implementing more complex and integrated programmes.

In response to a question on how Guatemala was able to implement a synergetic approach, Gonzalez noted it involved bringing all stakeholders around the table in order to “fit all the pieces together.”


Jim Leape, Director General, WWF, applauded President Armando Emilio Guebuza’s leadership in developing Mozambique’s Green Economy Roadmap. He stated Rio+20 should be about finding ways to bring natural capital into national decisions and policies.

Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), lauded President Guebuza’s outstanding leadership and visionary thinking, noting Mozambique has joined the ranks of countries that are redefining the growth process from an African perspective.

Alcinda Antonio de Abreu, Minister for the Coordination of Environmental Affairs, Mozambique, welcomed collaboration with Kenya and Tanzania on a sub-regional initiative to promote the green economy, and AfDB’s commitment “to move with us to realize our dream for a greener, ever more beautiful and prosperous Mozambique.”

President Armando Emilio Guebuza, Mozambique, emphasized the world stands at a crossroad and requires creative thinking to address the needs of the planet. He stated “in the context of poverty eradication we cannot afford to retreat or to take shortcuts” and reported on creative programmes in Mozambique fostering generational change, including the planting of and caring for trees by students. Unveiling Mozambique’s Green Economy Roadmap, he emphasized “working together to save the earth and its biodiversity, is an ethical duty and a moral obligation.”


Introducing the session, Moderator David Nabarro, Office of the UN Secretary General, said the panel would explore synergies between issues that are key to the wellbeing of the people and resources of our planet.

Conveying a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary, highlighted findings from the UNEP GEO-5 study showing that only 4 out of 90 critical targets agreed at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 have shown significant progress. Noting the sustainable development agenda is gaining traction among governments, private sector and civil society, he called for increased ambition and synergetic implementation to fully realize the potential of the three Rio Conventions.

Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO, noted that Rio Principle 1, “living a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature,” is still inspiring and relevant today, highlighting various environmental impacts of climate change, loss of biodiversity and desertification on human health. She underlined close work between WHO and CBD to ensure that indigenous knowledge and biological materials are shared fairly and equitably.

Acknowledging the Rio Conventions have received failing grades on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing biodiversity loss and reversing desertification, Dennis Garrity, UNCCD Drylands Ambassador, said implementation must be thought about differently. He stressed: mobilizing and inspiring people with success stories; capturing the energies of local movements; and engaging people in institutional processes by defining simple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Uriel Safriel, Center for Environmental Conventions of the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Israel, discussed an analytical framework assigning each of the three pillars of sustainable development to one of the Rio Conventions. Recalling the spirit of Rio Principle 4 he called for a new economic paradigm focused on the concept of “protecting the planet to feed the world.”

CBD Executive Secretary Dias noted the Rio Conventions Pavilion’s role in promoting this shift to an integrated mainstreaming approach to implementation, by avoiding confining sustainable development issues to the environmental sector.

Ralph Payet, Minister of Environment and Energy, the Seychelles, underscored that as a small island developing state, the Seychelles fully understands the costs of inaction. Stressing the three conventions “can move from fail to pass,” he called for: emulating the success of multilateral mechanisms such as the Montreal Protocol; moving away from a dependence on fossil fuels; and “converting all this complexity into simple targets.”

Responding to questions, Garrity noted that some of the Conventions’ objectives are undermined by economic and political interests, and underlined linking environmental objectives to economic benefits.


Providing a private sector perspective, Claude Fromageot, Yves Rocher Foundation, underscored the UN’s role in providing clear “rules of the game,” and creating a platform for exchange on authoritative multidisciplinary scientific and policy research.

Speaking for research institutes, Oded Grajew, Ethos Institute, Brazil, challenged the UN System to “practice what they preach,” by adopting the Global Compact principles. He called for a restructuring of the UN system to facilitate integrated approaches to the pillars of sustainable development.

Patrick Caron, CIRAD, called for new metrics, information systems and governance frameworks to respond to the need for collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches, and addressing knowledge asymmetries between developed and developing countries.

Robert Watson, IPBES, called for all UN agencies to work together, with the help of scientific advisory boards, to overcome market and governance failures as they cover all issues of sustainable development, by measuring “the true wealth of nations” including natural, economic, social and human capital to be captured by electronic knowledge systems.

Taghi Farvar, Union of Indigenous Nomadic Tribes of Iran, highlighted that indigenous peoples have excelled in the preservation, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity through their customary laws. He and Anne Nuorgam, Saami Council, called for respecting indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent to development projects in their territories and ensuring their meaningful engagement and participation in decision-making.

Yoshiko Nakano, OISCA International, highlighted her organization’s work with children and youth and civil society organizations in Asia, “to lay a solid foundation for a sustainable society.”

Outlining the main achievements of the Rio+20 outcome document, Nikhil Chandavarkar, UN DESA, praised Brazil’s leadership, welcoming the agreement reached on: a new institutional framework for sustainable development; the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production; a stronger mandate for UNEP; and the coordination body for the Rio Conventions. He noted that the “crown jewels” are the SDGs, which have clarified the post-2015 development agenda by moving from MDGs to a focus on global challenges.

Chikako Takase, UN Center for Regional Development, welcomed the SDGs as an achievement of Rio+20 to build upon “putting us to work translating research into policies.”

Herado Muñoz, UNDP, called for: better indicators to measure progress; promoting equitable, efficient and integrated policies and people’s rights, choices and dignity; achieving the MDGs and SDGs; and integrating science, poverty and environment.

Noting that while the Rio+20 outcome falls short of expectations, no one today can ignore issues of sustainability, Carlos Lopes, UN Institute for Training and Research, challenged the Rio Conventions to offer new models for opening up access to multilateral negotiation processes as a first step towards transforming the development paradigm.


Moderator Gustavo Fonseca, GEF, noted the Rio Conventions, “the three sisters, the triplets, were born in 1992 and have now reached adulthood” and introduced the panel.

Hiroyuki Nagahama, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Japan, emphasized that coordination of the Rio Conventions is crucial for sustainable development. He expressed hope that the adoption of the message “living in harmony with nature” and the commitments by the international community to achieve the global targets for biodiversity conservation will be a landmark outcome of Rio+20 for the future.

Yoo Young Sook, Minister of Environment, Korea, noted her country’s appreciation of the value of the Rio Conventions, highlighting Korea’s hosting of UNCCD and CBD COPs. She called for building the future we want by making the conventions “three stars giving light to the world.”

Don Koo Lee, Minister, Korea Forest Service, presented a joint statement signed by the Executive Secretaries of the Rio Conventions to Francisco Gaetani, Deputy Minister of the Environment, Brazil.

UNCCD Executive Secretary, Luc Gnacadja, shared his dream that the world will realize the goal of a land degradation neutral world in the next 20 years. CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias emphasized that despite the challenging state of biodiversity and that not all targets and goals have been met, progress should be celebrated. He highlighted the role of the CBD in addressing conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the Conventions.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, congratulated UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja and CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias on the 20th birthday of their respective Conventions. Noting “this is usually when you get in trouble in life” he underlined their commitment to hard work on complex challenges and their “commitment to keeping these Conventions up and running.”

Edward Norton, UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, commended the Rio Conventions for their application of sophisticated metrics to demonstrate the deep inter-linkages between natural systems and economic growth. Stressing that the challenge is to explain these complex ideas to ordinary people to ensure their buy in, he underscored the role of compelling case studies to illuminate the “new economics,” mentioning the TEEB Report as a good example of this.

Peter Kent, Minister of Environment, Canada, outlined his country’s continuing support to the Rio Conventions. Noting the world has changed significantly since 1992, he urged all stakeholders to overcome binary divisions and focus instead on actions that will make the biggest difference.

Fahad Al Attiya, Incoming UNFCCC COP 18 President, Qatar, noted his country is sending the message that the South is becoming more engaged in issues of sustainable development and is no longer a passive participant in the process, underlining Qatar’s commitment to employ only renewable energy for water desalination by 2024.

Izabella Teixeira, Minister of Environment, Brazil, emphasized the challenges to be considered in the coming years, noting 2015 as an important benchmark for the outcomes of the Rio+20, marking the end of the process to develop SDGs and the scientifically necessary peak of GHG emissions. Applauded by the audience, she called for a new treaty on oceans and improved outcomes on means of implementation, including new and additional funds.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres stressed that while celebrating the achievements of the past 20 years, there is need to acknowledge that these are limited to building institutional infrastructures and raising awareness. Urging everyone to recommit themselves to action, she echoed a call by Rio+20 youth representatives to “make green sexy again,” emphasizing that action must begin today because “we cannot defer this responsibility on our children.”

The Rio Conventions Pavilion Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Beate Antonich, Wangu Mwangi and Anna Schulz. The Digital Editor is Brad Vincelette. The Editor is Robynne Boyd <robynne@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://enb.iisd.org/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, USA. The IISD Team at the Rio Conventions Pavilion can be contacted by e-mail at <anna@iisd.org>.


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African Union