The UNCSD NGO Major Group Organizing Partners write this newsletter on Rio+20, whose topics are: "a Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and poverty eradication" and "the institutional framework for Sustainable Development". You can also view this in your browser.


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Registrate to UN CSD 2012 Rio+20. DEADLINE is 20 MAY!!! 

We remind you that the hard deadline for registration to the Rio+20 conference is approaching quickly - 20 MAY. Registration is required for all participants accessing Rio Centro including speakers and panellists for your side events and those that will participate in the Brazilian-led dialogue days. If your speakers are not all registered, please visit.
If your speakers do not belong to an accredited organizations, you may register them under your delegation or please visit the FAQs

If you are one of the organizations that submitted an application for special accreditation for Rio+20, the General Assembly (GA) has postponed its decision to accredit new NGOs. We understand all of the difficulties this implies for participants and will inform you as soon as a decision has been made. In this regards, we were able to negotiate an extension, and once the GA makes its decision, you will have until 27 May to register your delegations.

Registrations are now open to the NEW Third round of 'informal-informal' negotiations on the zero draft of outcome document, from 29 May to 02 June 2012, in the UN Headquarters in NYC.


More than 500 on-site side events organized by Governments, Major Groups, Organizations from the UN system and other International Organizations will take place in RioCentro during Prepcom III (13-15 June), the Sustainable Development Dialogue Days (16-19 June) and the Summit (20-22 June). Please see here the preliminary programme of on-site side events in RioCentro.

A NEW chance for agreement : The NEW 3rd round of "informals" 

From 23 April to 4 May, delegates endeavored to make progress on the draft text, in what was originally slated to be the last round of informal informal negotiations prior to the Preparatory Committee’s third and final meeting in Rio de Janeiro in June, just prior to UNCSD itself. Delegates made some progress in clarifying positions and finding compromise text, agreeing on 21 paragraphs ad referendum (pending agreement on the final text).
However, this represented only a small percentage of the text, which stood at more than 420 paragraphs. At the end of the meeting 400 paragraphs remained bracketed.

Recognizing the considerable work that was still required, the Bureau decided on 4 May to hold an additional negotiating session prior to the UNCSD.
This session will take place from 29 May to 2 June 2012, at UN Headquarters in New York. Please register here

Will this extra time help solidify the Rio outcome? Nevertheless, many still believe it remains an important policy venue and hope that the Rio process could be remembered by two or three very specific “front-page” decisions currently in the text—such as a moratorium on new fisheries subsidies, stronger commitment to corporate sustainability reporting, and a decision related to SDGs. Others are talking of “crowdsourcing Rio,” in the sense of soliciting creative ideas, knowledge and specific contributions towards shared aims and objectives, suggesting that multiple actors could agree on their own sustainable development-related outcomes that are separate from the text under negotiation. They refer to a scenario in which the intergovernmental process is just one element of the broader picture of Rio.
It is important to remind that it’s too early to give up hope for a strong multilateral outcome and that package deals and compromises are rarely made until the eleventh hour. 


With many thanks to all who contributed, we've made available, to all of those who did not had the chance to be present,  at our NGORIOplus20 Wikispace all the eight statements produced by the NGOs Major Group during the Second round of "Informal-informal."

Rio+20 Dialogue days 

The Sustainable Development Dialogues, to be held in Riocentro, between June 16 to 19, in the context of the UN CSD Rio+20 Conference, is an instrument to convene experts and stakeholders from civil society, including private sector, NGOs, scientific community, among other major groups, with a view to defining recommendations that will be taken directly to the Heads of State and Government during the High-Level Segment of Rio+20.  

These Dialogues have already begun online, and you are invited to join the Dialogues now and share your innovative recommendations for sustainable solutions that will be considered during the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference. To help you get your ideas through, the organization has created an online platform, an instrument to ensure broad, democratic and diverse participation in the Sustainable Development Dialogues process. 

Ten Dialogue topics are : oceans, food and nutrition security, poverty, solutions to economic crises, energy for all, water, economics of SD, cities & innovation, unemployment & migration and forests.

Add your recommendation on any of above ten topics by simply clicking “Make Your Recommendation” on the Dialogues site. State your idea as clearly as possible, in brief, simple language that indicates what should be done and by whom. In the final phase the top supported recommendations from the dialogues will go to public voting at the start of June in Rio.

You can also read other recommendations already posted and support them, if you wish so, by clicking “Support”. You can support as many recommendations as you deem appropriate.

Feel free to post your recommendations in English French, Spanish, Portuguese or any other language.

Living in a pollution-free world is a basic human right
Mariann Lloyd Smith

Living in a pollution-free world is a basic human right

Sound chemicals management underpins every aspect of a sustainable future and green livelihoods. Governments acknowledged that “sound management of chemicals is essential if we are to achieve sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty and disease” . Yet, two decades after the Rio Earth Summit, chemical contamination with toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative substances affects us all, with the worst impacts being experienced by the most vulnerable; children, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers and workers in the many hazardous industries. Children today are exposed to a wide array of toxic chemicals before they are even born. The majority have still not been adequately assessed for their impacts on human health and the environment. Nevertheless, diseases such as cancer, heart disease, reproductive and developmental disorders, asthma, diabetes and mental illnesses have all been shown to have links to pollution of air, water and food. Clearly, fundamental change is needed in the way we manage chemicals.

The WHO acknowledges that industrial and agricultural chemicals are responsible for many deaths and much disease. The tragic loss and significant cost burden is not borne by chemical producers or even shared down the product supply chains, but by individuals, communities and countries who can ill afford the bourgeoning costs of chemical mismanagement. Ensuring industry pays the true cost of its products through cost internalization measures based on extended producer responsibility and strict polluter pays is the most effective and equitable way of driving and resourcing chemical reform. For a chemical industry with annual sales of over $3,000,000,000,000 U.S. dollars, surely this is not too much to ask.

To achieve chemical reform, Rio+20 must see a global recommitment to SAICM and the 2020 goal of a toxic free future; initiate a plan for the next stages of international efforts to achieve this goal; and most importantly, ensure the means and resources to do this.

In the lead up to Rio+20, NGOs from the chemicals and waste thematic cluster will host a Toxics Free Future Forum in Rio City on June 11th with the aim to engage multisector NGOs (e.g., labor, environmental, indigenous, legal, health, women, consumer, farmer/agriculture workers etc) in planning for toxics work beyond Rio+20. In support of the forum, we have developed a NGO/CSO Global Common Statement for a Toxic Free Future. This commits us to a future where people have the right to enjoy healthy, green livelihoods, with safe communities and workplaces that are free from toxic threats to people, surrounding environments and to future generations. This is the sustainable future we want for our world and children.


More than 10 International NGOs/Networks have endorsed the NGO/CSO GLOBAL COMMON STATEMENT FOR A TOXIC-FREE FUTURE. This campaign was developed by IPEN to create greater awareness of the increasing amounts of toxic chemicals in the environment, our food, communities and children, and follow-up on the 2008-2009 Global Outreach Effort to raise awareness about the link between chemical safety and sustainable development.

The endorsers of this initiative have not forgotten the commitments made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, and by occasion of Rio+20, they call on governments worldwide to take action to protect the public and ensure that everyone has the right to safe and secure communities and workplaces, free from toxic threats. Their AIM is to collect over 1,000 NGO/CSO ENDORSEMENTS from more than 80 countries, BEFORE the JUNE 11th Global Toxics-Free Future Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (prior to the Rio+20 Prepcom3 and Conference).

Join the list of endorsers: ANPED, IPEN, GAIA, FoEI, WEFC, HCWH, IITC, ISDE, CIVICUS . For more information, here

An Argentine Perspective on Degrowth
by Marcela Valente 

The controversial concept of degrowth receives little press coverage in a region like Latin America. But the idea of a way of life that is not aimed exclusively at GDP growth does have its proponents in Argentina.

As in other countries of the region, the Argentine perspective on degrowth differs somewhat from that of academics and civil society organisations in the industrialised world, according to sources consulted by Tierramérica. 

The threat of a systemic global crisis with various dimensions - environmental, economic, energy-related - will be on the discussion table at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), taking place Jun. 20-22 in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. 

For advocates of degrowth, it has become clear that sustainable development will not succeed in averting environmental collapse or enhancing social justice, the goals set forth 20 years ago at the 1992 Earth Summit, also held in Rio. 

Degrowth in the Americas, an international conference taking place in Montreal, Canada on May 13-19, seeks to challenge and move beyond the sustainable development agenda, drawing on previous degrowth conferences in Paris and Barcelona in 2008 and 2010, respectively. 

One of the best-known proponents of degrowth, French philosopher and economist Serge Latouche, says that the movement is aimed primarily at promoting a shift away from the pursuit of "growth for growth’s sake". It would actually be better to speak of "agrowth" instead of degrowth, just as one speaks of atheism, he believes. 

Degrowth supporters call for a controlled and rational decrease in consumption and production, in a way that respects the climate, ecosystems and human beings themselves. 

Nevertheless, Latouche stresses that degrowth is not a concrete alternative, but rather a matrix of multiple alternatives. Obviously, any concrete proposal or counterproposal is both necessary and problematic, he adds. 

In Argentina, "degrowth is not covered by the media, nor does it form part of academic courses in political economy. But it exists, especially now, on the threshold of the Rio+20 conference," social scientist Julio Gambina told Tierramérica. 

In Latin America, "where economic growth was deified in the 1990s, degrowth gets bad press," added Gambina, a professor of political economy at the National University of Rosario and president of the Social and Policy Research Foundation of Argentina. In his opinion, "it would be better discuss how growth is achieved." 

A number of Latin American countries, he noted, have achieved economic growth on the basis of "an extractivist model of production," which increases GDP at the cost of the intensive use of natural resources that are gradually being exhausted. 

Examples include large-scaling mining, which involves the use of cyanide and causes major environmental impacts, or the expansion of monoculture plantations of soybeans for export, at the expense of diversified rural production. 

Gambina pointed to the case of Brazil, where organisations affiliated to the international network Via Campesina challenge this model and call for greater support for peasant agriculture and the productive practices of indigenous and traditional communities, which are less destructive to natural resources. But these groups "have no visibility," he said. 

In the countries of Latin America, there is generally little resistance to the pursuit of growth. "Degrowth is primarily associated with economies that are in crisis, like those of Europe," he explained. 

Statistician María Elena Saludas, national coordinator of ATTAC (the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens), commented that "the debate over the impossibility of continuing to pursue limitless economic growth in the framework of a finite planet dates back to the 1960s." 

The conception of sustainable development that began to be heavily promoted at the 1992 Earth Summit does not question the global power structure or the capitalist system, whose leitmotiv is profit, said Saludas. 

The same can be said of the so-called "green economy" now being energetically promoted by the United Nations, which is organising Rio+20. 

"What we should be discussing," she said, "is the fact that this economic model cannot be sustained." 

Saludas is critical of the expansion of monoculture production and the heavy dependence of Latin American economies on the export of raw materials. She also warns of the limits of the expansion of the automotive industry, in countries like Argentina and Brazil. "A car for everyone is not sustainable. We need to work towards more efficient and collective transportation," she said. 

In her opinion, the current GDP growth in Latin America is generating "extreme inequality" between rich and poor. Those at the so-called bottom of the pyramid "are barely surviving." As such, "we cannot tell them that they should be opposed to growth." 

She prefers to highlight experiences like that of Bolivia, where a movement of indigenous peoples advocates the pursuit of "buen vivir" or "living well", in harmony with nature and not at the cost of natural resources or other members of society. 

Saludas said she is enthusiastic about the theory of degrowth, although "not as a proposal for individual changes in behavior, but rather for each community to find a way of experiencing this way of life." 

For his part, Gambina has qualms about a debate which, at least in the way it is currently formulated, is unlikely to gain new supporters. 

"Whether the discussion of degrowth will achieve a greater impact remains to be seen. There are groups pushing for a different kind of development, which challenge the prevailing model of production, but they don’t have a favorable cultural environment," he said. 

The pursuit of growth persists as the consensus ideology in the region, which is why the degrowth debate has not gained widespread support, Gambina stressed. He believes the emphasis should not be on "degrowing" but rather on "growing in a different way." "We need to support family farming, local production and distribution," as well as challenging the currently prevailing means of measuring development through GDP, he said. 

"GDP only counts what is created, and doesn’t subtract what is destroyed," he explained. "Perhaps there are cases where GDP is lower, as in Cuba or Venezuela, but quality of life or the distribution of wealth improves. Social well-being is not necessarily tied to economic growth," he said.  

LDCs launch plan to stimulate climate change negotiations
by Edmund Smith-Asante - GBN (Ghana)

The world’s poorest countries have issued a bold plan to make the UN climate change talks coming off in Bonn, Germany this week, more likely to reach their goal of having an effective and legally binding agreement ready for governments to adopt by 2015.

Explaining what informed that action, Pa Ousman Jarju, chair of the LDC group, said “At last year’s conference of parties to the convention in Durban, parties agreed to complete negotiations by 2015, but such deadlines have been broken before,” adding, “Our countries cannot wait. We are already feeling the effects of climate change, but the time has come for us to be leaders in the international effort to address this global challenge.”
He stated further that “The creation of a new body to negotiate a second protocol under the Convention represents an overdue acknowledgement by all Parties that the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol alone are insufficient to drive action consistent with the ultimate objective of the Convention.”

Speaking on behalf of the LDCs, Jarju said “Urgent action is needed by all Parties to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system, and in particular to stay below 2°C and keep open the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial in the long-term as called for by the most vulnerable countries.”

Meanwhile, as negotiators gather in Bonn for the latest round of talks this week, the LDC group also proposes changes to the way the negotiations work, to make them faster and fairer, says a press release announcing the step taken by the group of countries.  According to the release, to ensure that all issues can be dealt with, the group says the number and duration of future negotiation sessions must be agreed in Bonn, along with a timetable to discuss particular issues. The group also says parties should consider electing officers to the bureau that will run the talks for more than the usual two year period, to ensure continuity – and that the size of the bureau should perhaps be expanded, given the urgency of its task and that wide range of topics it must work on.

The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) group’s formal submission to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, under which the talks take place, insists that the new legally binding agreement should take the form of a new protocol under the convention that builds on and enhances the commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The LDCs also demand that parties should agree new rules to allow the adoption of the Protocol by a 75% majority, not by consensus as under current rules, that a final negotiating text should be ready a full year ahead of the 2015 deadline rather than the usual six months deadline that the UNFCCC imposes and that raising the ambition of commitments to mitigate climate change before 2020 must be the top priority. They also maintain that the new protocol should have as a key objective, the full implementation of mitigation, adaptation and finance and capacity building among others, whilst systems for monitoring, reporting and verifying finance and mitigation actions must not be weaker than but should build upon those that already exist in the Kyoto Protocol.

Commenting further on the proposals, chair Pa Ousman Jarju said; “The LDC group comes to the Bonn climate change talks with a strong set of recommendations,” adding, “In the spirit of international cooperation and with our desire to see the UN climate change convention meet its objective, we urge other parties to join our call for these improvements to the negotiating process and its final goals.”


Game Change Rio gives players access to real-life data that so far has only been available to experts and policy makers. Based on the Millennium Institute’s Green Economy Model, which was commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the game includes all relevant sectors of the world’s economy and the natural resources available. All of these elements are linked according to a theory called System Dynamics and effects of policies are seen in their full complexity.
The model has over 5,000 indicators, and with the 125 policy cards developed, the game has over 100 million possible outcomes. 

Game Change Rio does not aim to change the world on its own. But it offers a great way to engage with the complexities facing our planet today. You can explore the countless options to ruin our world for future generations or save the planet. Once more of us begin to understand the issues involved, and if we all mobilize, we have a better chance of changing the game. 

The Morning After: reflections on the Rio+20 negotiations
 by Jeffrey Huffines - CIVICUS


The numbers speak for themselves. At the close of the second round of negotiations for Rio+20 on 4 May, after 87 hours of deliberations, the tally of paragraphs agreed upon by the assembled delegates of the negotiated text stood at 21, with only 401 paragraphs to go. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development Bureau decided to add another five days of negotiations at the end of May to help resolve the impasse, but at this rate the delegates will need more than one month of non-stop negotiations, seven days a week, to resolve their differences.

Another way must be found if Rio+20 is to live up to its billing as the “once in a generation chance to set the right course,” as pronounced by the UN Secretary-General in his meeting with the Bureau yesterday.

In fairness, the delegates are debating issues of monumental significance beyond the reach of national political leaders to solve on their own: rebalancing the global economy to eliminate the extremes of poverty and wealth within and between countries in the name of the ‘green economy’, transforming the global sustainable development governance architecture, and agreeing upon the measures, means and financing to do so. Global problems demand global solutions, and yet the fact is that the UN has neither the authority nor the mandate to enforce compliance. In this era of austerity when sovereign nations buckle before the stringent demands of the bond market, voluntary commitments are the order of the day as governments shy away from any commitment to a ‘legally binding framework’ that would require them to put their money where their mouths are.

Against this backdrop of diplomatic paralysis, civil society and other stakeholders comprised of the nine ‘major groups’ representing women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, NGOs, local authorities, workers/trade unions, business/industry, technology/science and farmers won some important concessions. Responding to an open letter entitled ‘Rights at Risk’ initiated by IBON and others at last month’s negotiations that garnered the endorsement of over a thousand CSOs from over 100 countries and territories, the Bureau acceded to civil society demands to restore the speaking rights of major groups to have their voices heard at the opening and closing sessions, as well as at the end of every day during the negotiations.

Yet these measures alone are not enough. As is the case in some other UN bodies, civil society should also be given the opportunity to make interventions from the floor and to offer amendments as non-voting delegates. The negotiations in plenary should be webcast live and the negotiated text be posted daily so that citizens may know what their governments are proposing and respond accordingly.

At the negotiations in March, several member states had bracketed most references to human rights and the Rio principles in the draft text to be presented to the Heads of State in Rio in June. In response, CSOs, human rights experts, unions and social movements mobilised to denounce these attacks on human rights and the principles born in the Rio 1992 Earth Summit. During these last two weeks, CSOs continued to put pressure on negotiators to ask for more clear positions on specific points. Important victories were made that included a vigorous defence of the right to water, as well as some forward movement in areas like the sustainable development goals, renewable energy, food security and the proposal for a social protection floor. Yet overall, governments remain profoundly paralysed before the larger issues of sustainable development governance and means of implementation including finance. During the last two days of negotiations, the G77/China group split for the first time in the Rio+20 preparatory process on the legal management of ocean seabed resources and when African governments demanded that the UN Environment Programme be transformed into a specialised UN agency. Consequently, negotiations slowed down significantly as individual countries of the G77 bloc of 132 countries then took the floor to engage the debate.

So here we are, the morning after the second round of negotiations, with everyone recognising that the pace of negotiations must pick up dramatically, both in speed and quality, if there is going to be an outcome document worthy of the historic moment. Without the strong voice of civil society loudly reminding governments of their obligation to honour their commitments made at Rio in 1992, backsliding into timid retreat on the part of governments is still yet a distinct possibility. 

The High Commissioner for Human Rights's new report
by Nick Meynen

As if to illustrate the point that our democracy is at stake, The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday expressed deep concern about recent moves in a number of countries to curtail the freedom of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate independently and effectively.

A draft law on regulation of NGOs in Egypt “will, if passed in its current form, seriously undermine the spirit of Egypt’s revolution, in which civil society played such a pivotal role,” Pillay said. She continues with examples from Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Algeria, Ethiopia, Belarus, Israel and Venezuela to conclude that “It is normal for there to be occasional tensions in the relationship between civil society organizations and the authorities, but it is unnecessary for these to descend into suspicion, antagonism or – on the part of the authorities – outright repression,” the High Commissioner said.

“In the long term, there is nothing gained and a great deal that is lost when states attempt to stifle civil society.

"The Climate Game and the World's Poor"

For those preparing to Rio+20, with low or high hopes, let us remind the need for the UN CSD meetings, the need of those who have the most at stake and also prepare for the blury process of diplomacy and negotiations, for legally binding international environmental agreements.

In December 2009 Copenhagen in Denmark hosted what has been called the most important global summit since World War II, the United Nations Climate Conference, COP15. Unfortunately there, negotiators from some 190 countries failed to strike a new global deal to tackle the challenge of climate change.

The two documentaries 'The Climate Game and the World's Poor' look at climate change from the perspective of the poor and the developing countries. The ones who have most at stake and already suffer from the impacts of climate change, which are mainly caused by developped countries. Yet, the views and voices of the poor are often sidelined at global summits dominated by the big and the rich players. 
The film provides a revealing insight into the way international diplomacy can become an intricate game played by competing nations, a game that for millions of the world's poorest people is really a question of life and death.

Featuring interviews with senior negotiators and other climate-change experts, the documentary tells the story of what happened when the critical talks began to unravel thanks to leaked texts, broken trust, blocking tactics and secret meetings that excluded many nations.

These documentaries are produced by Anders Dencker Christensen with financial support from Danida's Information Grant, Danish Foreign Ministry, Danish Ministry of Education, Hermod Lannungs Fond and UNESCO

A Matter of Justice
The first documentary visits victims of climate change in four very different developing countries, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Kenya, and Vietnam, and show how they are struggling to cope with and adapt to a climate that is becoming still more hostile

A Window of Opportunity
The second documentary shows concrete examples from Bolivia, Kenya and Vietnam of how the increasing focus on climate change can - and should - also be usted to set the stage for a green and more carbon free growth in both developing and developed countries.
20 June 2012: Celebrate 24 hours of possibility

The American anarchist and Activist Paul Goodman had a simple and powerful vision of change. “Imagine that you have won the revolution… you have the world that you dreamed of” he said. “Now think what you would be doing in that world”. And, once you have that idea, he concludes, “try to do that tomorrow morning. Don’t wait a minute.”

The future is hard to predict but we do know that one way or another our economies and societies will change dramatically as we adapt to the end of cheap fossil fuels, address the threat of runaway climate change and fix our broken financial system. A new, positive approach to this transition is emerging which sees it as an opportunity to change all of our lives for the better.

This summer thousands of people will fly to Brazil to watch, and wait, as politicians struggle to live up to the ideals of the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, hoping that by some miracle, this time, the talks will result in action to meet the scale of the climate crisis. That’s why, on the 20th June, at dawn, as the Earth Summit begins we’re inviting people to get together and make change happen where they are by celebrating 24 hours where anything is possible, 24 hours when we come together around the world to dream a new world awake.

International political action is vital, but we can’t afford to leave it all to big, global conferences. People are tired of waiting for others to act: a growing wave of alternatives from the Transition Town Network to the Occupy movement, ecovillages and thousands more besides are not waiting for leadership but experimenting with new forms of activism and new ways of living for themselves.

Real leadership is as likely to come from people voting with the feet and imaginations to ask better questions, imagine better worlds and sample living differently as it is to come from those attending the summit. The Festival of Transiton is an opportunity to re-imagine the future, to taste transition for yourself, wherever you are. Together we can send a message to our friends, families, communities and to world leaders that we're ready to embrace change and make something great of it.

For example, people in Transtiion Town Totnes in the UK will be rising with the dawn for 24 hours of dreaming a new world awake. A feast of planned activities include an afternoon of experimenting with the high street of the future: of food shared, of participatory story telling, life sized snakes and ladders games of choices and challenges for a resilient life, skills swaps, making and mending workshops in the town square, celebrating life, not shopping.

A group in Senegal will spend the day planting a food garden for the summer, celebrating the planting with their neighbors, making drinks and snacks using only locally-produced including baobab fruit juice, hibiscus juice, ginger juice, and lots of tropical fruit and vegetables. All around the world, for 24 hours from dawn on 20 June until dawn on 21 June, people are preparing to get together and take action to breathe a new world awake.

The Festival of Transition is an opportunity for all of us to question, taste, and experiment with living better within life-preserving environmental limits. We believe that once people take a first step, they’ll want to keep on walking. Until we try doing things differently, we won’t know what we are capable of. Whatever happens, we intend to enjoy the process. Check out the full menu of ideas on the Festival website, customise one to work for you (or your school, or your workplace, or your town) or dream up a new one and pledge to make it happen.

UNEP Reform: the need is clear
By Matthew Reading-Smith, Stakeholder Forum

An inherent weakness of international environmental governance is that it lacks an intergovernmental structure to legally enforce the hundreds of unfulfilled Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). To address this gap in governance, it is widely recognised that the legal authority of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) must be strengthened to ensure environmental treaties are enacted.

Proponents of reforming the UN’s environmental structure call on governments to adopt a resolution for the General Assembly to upgrade UNEP within the UN system to become the supreme UN organisation dealing with the environment.

There is a high level of support from member states and civil society to make UNEP a counterpart to the World Trade Organisation, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Referring to the zero draft compilation document over 100 countries endorse a proposal to upgrade UNEP into a fully-fledged UN agency or UN Environment Organisation (UNEO). The makeover would increase the stature of the agency by broadening its mandate, membership, authority, technical capacity and financial resources. The primary benefits of the upgrade would include:

 Legal authority to enforce sanctions on countries that violate MEAs
 Strengthened role as a global environmental watchdog and ombudsmen
 Reporting on countries performance against international treaties
 Coordination of relevant scientific research

Following this month’s Rio+20 preparatory negotiations in New York it seems the international community plans to reform UNEP. However the nature of this reform remains contentious. There is still agreement that UNEP needs to be reformed through universal membership, increased funding and improved science based decision-making. This keeps open the possibility of an iterative approach to strengthening UNEP and achieving specialised agency status in the future. Therefore UNEP will be able to deliver on the environmental dimension of sustainable development and be on track to one day be the supreme global authority on the environment.

Peoples's Sustainability Treaties NOW ON-LINE

The Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties have emerged to provide a common platform for voices from civil society to be collectively expressed at Rio+20. The objective is to assist civil society actors to get organized, to generate a collective vision representative of the global people’s aspirations and wellbeing, to create an open and common platform to voice these visions, to agree on a pathway of sustainable futures, and to create collective civil agreements on a way forward through principled action.

Through joint stakeholder efforts the treaties calls for the realization of an alternative content outcome at UNCSD2012. The rationale of the this complimentary civil society engagement is to produce ‘Treaties’, a ‘Declaration’ and an ‘Action Plan’, which are to represent and demonstrate the collective visions of the global people and help advance a Global Movement forging sustainable futures for all.

The following draft treaties are now available for public comments. Please send your comments by 20th May 2012 to the coordinator of each treaty with a copy to 

1. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Consumption and Production 
2. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Equity 
3. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Economies 
4. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Radical Ecological Democracy 
5. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Development 
6. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Rights of Mother 
7. Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Sustainable Development Goals 

Individuals from any walk of life can participate as contributors, while any person or institution can endorse and commit to a treaty.
For further information please see and to
 partner, facilitate and contribute to the treaties, please contact Uchita de Zoysa (

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights's Resolution on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Commission) held its 51st Ordinary Session in Banjul, Republic of The Gambia, from 18 April to 2 May 2012.
Altogether four hundred and seventeen (417) delegates participated at the 51st Ordinary Session. Of these, one hundred and two (102) represented twenty-three (23) States Parties, forty five (45) represented National Human Rights Institutions, four (4) represented International and Inter-Governmental Organizations, two hundred and fifty-six (256) represented African and International NGOs, and ten (10) represented African Union Organs.

The 51st Ordinary Session was preceded by a three-day meeting of the NGO Forum, organized by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, which was held from 14 to 16 April 2012. Two hundred and twenty (220) participants attended the NGO Forum – 204 from Africa, 4 from the Americas, 1 from Asia and 11 from Europe. The NGO Forum examined the human rights situation in many countries in Africa, and expressed concern over specific issues, such as election-related crises, freedom of expression, armed conflicts, environmental degradation, failure in constitutional obligations, the continuing inequalities and challenges faced by women in most countries, the situation and conditions of people living with HIV/AIDS, and the situation of human rights defenders on the African continent. For a full report of this conference please visit here.

Considering its mandate to promote human and peoples’ rights in Africa under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), The African Commission has made an Human Rights-Based Approach to Natural Resources Governance, the resolution ACHPR/Res.224 (LI) 2012 that calls upon States Parties to:

i. Reaffirm that, in accordance with the Rio Declaration and African Charter principle of State sovereignty over natural resources, the State has the main responsibility for ensuring natural resources stewardship with, and for the interest of, the population and must fulfill its mission in conformity with international human rights law and standards;

ii. Confirm that all necessary measures must be taken by the State to ensure participation, including the free, prior and informed consent of communities, in decision making related to natural resources governance;

iii. Recommit themselves to vigorously fighting corruption at all levels of decision making by strengthening and enforcing criminalization of corruption, decisively ending impunity and ensuring asset recovery and repatriation for illicitly expatriated capital;

iv. Ensure that respect for human rights in all matters of natural resources exploration, extraction, toxic waste management, development, management and governance, in international cooperation, investment agreements and trade regulation prevails, and in particular:

Ø Establish a clear legal framework for sustainable development as it impacts on natural resources, in particular water, that would make the realization of human rights a prerequisite for sustainability;

Ø Strengthen regional efforts, such as the 2009 ECOWAS Directive on Mining and the African Commission’s Working Group on Extractive Industries and Human Rights, to promote natural resources legislation that respect human rights of all and require transparent, maximum and effective community participation in a) decision-making about, b) prioritisation and scale of, and c) benefits from any development on their land or other resources. or that affects them in any substantial way;

Ø Set up independent monitoring and accountability mechanisms that ensure that human rights are justiciable and extractive industries and investors legally accountable in the country hosting their activities and in the country of legal domicile;

Ø Ensure independent social and human rights impact assessments that guarantee free prior informed consent; effective remedies; fair compensation; women, indigenous and customary people’s rights; environmental impact assessments; impact on community existence including livelihoods, local governance structures and culture, and ensuring public participation; protection of the individuals in the informal sector; and economic, cultural and social rights.

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‘Own the Edge’ is put together by the NGO Major Group Organizing Partners, the Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Consumers International (CI). Released each month in the lead-up to the Rio+20 summit, it provides news on the process from Major Group Organising Partners, UNDESA and NGOs, as well as featuring articles of interest on Rio+20 themes, events and other opportunities for engagement.
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