Rio+20 summit looks set to be an epic fail for the world’s poor.
Whilst it might be premature to write about the outcomes of the Rio+20 summit before it closes, there seems little hope of dredging anything significant, other than anger and boredom, out of the remaining hours of ‘negotiations’.
Today is the last day in a week of international summits. The week kicked off with the G20 summit in Mexico, swiftly followed by the Rio+20 earth summit which closes today. With the G20 failing to look beyond the Eurozone crisis to address the plight of 1 billion hungry people around the world, all hopes shifted to Rio.
However it was clear even from the evening before the summit that these hopes were never likely to shine with the ‘outcome’ document (that was being circulated before the summit even began!) clearly highlighting a complete lack of ambition.
Nick Clegg was there to represent the British Government, along with Caroline Spelman (yes, even our own Secretary of State for International Development didn’t think it was worth turning up, despite one of the main goals of the summit being about developing new Sustainable Development Goals). And even he referred to the text as ‘insipid’.
From the beginning, one of ActionAid UK’s biggest concerns was around the Sustainable Development Goals and particularly UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon’s, Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Whilst on the surface these could be seen as positive developments, unless energy produced from large-scale biofuels sources was explicitly ruled out in meeting these new energy commitments then they could do more harm than good.
And ironically, it is the Sustainable Energy for All that has been one of the most acclaimed outcomes from the summit. And it looks like our worst fears could be realised. As ActionAid’s Clare Coffey says, this could be a backward step for poor people. "Sustainable Energy For All is masquerading as a pro-poor initiative but in reality is likely to be more like a Trojan Horse for large-scale nuclear, hydro and biofuel businesses".