RIO+20 outcomes disappoint Birdlife Botswana
by Tshiamo Tabane
The Director of Bird Life Botswana (BLB), Dr Kabelo Senyatso, has expressed concern about the outcomes of RIO+20, saying they do not give nature the recognition it deserves.
Senyatso was part of a Botswana delegation to the conference, which ended two weeks ago.
He said it has been proven during negotiations that governments are only worried that talks could break down. “They appear content to settle for less, and to agree the lowest common denominator rather than compromise and reach consensus,” he said.
Senyatso indicated that much of what was agreed at Rio+20 merely reaffirms commitments that governments had already made, some dating back 20 years to the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
“One would have hoped that, given the substantial knowledge on the state of our planet, the unacceptable poverty of billions, the continued steep declines in biodiversity and the changing climate, governments would have approached Rio+20 with a renewed sense of urgency.”
He said bold and decisive actions are needed to steer the world along the pathway to sustainable development.
“This pathway should recognise the value of the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. But the necessary integration of these continues to be held hostage. The outcomes do not give nature the recognition it deserves,” he said.
He said finance to support sustainable development was not prioritized as indicated by the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies from the G20 countries.
“New schemes supporting sustainable initiatives were announced and a lot of good ‘thinking’ outlined. But we need more than thinking – we need implementation and action,” Senyatso said.
He said positive points in the outcome text include the affirmation of the importance of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, adding that the plan was agreed in 2010 by 192 countries and integrates biodiversity targets that integrate economic, social and environmental concerns.
“This reaffirmation of these targets as a part of The Future We Want is very welcome. Governments must now work with urgency to realise these targets, which, if reached, will make a significant contribution to sustainable development.”
The Conservation Officer noted that Sustainable Development Goals, which were initiated to replace the Millennium Development Goals, must re-address the balance between development and environment, and clearly recognise the underpinning role of nature and biodiversity.
He said BLB is willing and ready to work with government and other partners who want to realise sustainable development.
BLB is a civil society agency and is a member of Bird Life International, which is a world conservation union.