ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together) is calling on heads of states and governments to show their leadership in Rio de Janeiro this week.
CWS a member of ACT Alliance, is supporting its call for agreement to transform the current economic system, for the good of the planet and its people.
Decisive leadership must be displayed over the next three days at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) – the Rio+20 summit – in order to guarantee a global strategy that lifts people out of poverty and helps the world grow in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way.
Prepared by civil servants for their heads of state and government to sign, the draft agreement for the summit’s outcome document has so far been the subject of months of negotiations in New York, as well as intense debate in Rio during the past week.
ACT Alliance predicts that this agreement will add little to the principles and conventions that were approved in this same city 20 years ago. In fact, the organisation fears that if the current text is adopted, it could dilute some of the principles agreed at the 1992 Earth Summit.
“It is finally time for change, not just words,” says ACT Alliance vice-moderator the Right Rev Canon Francisco da Silva, in Rio. “The new concepts of a green economy and sustainable development goals, created by the process leading up to this conference, have produced a lot of important debate. But the world’s poorest people are still waiting for action that will finally benefit their daily lives.”
He adds: “ACT Alliance members and volunteers are here in Rio with large crowds of supporters backing our views. However, people feel they are not being listened to. So we are engaging with negotiators and decision-makers, to ensure they know they are accountable to their people and do not forget our views.”
ACT general secretary John Nduna says the earth and its people have only one common future. “ACT urges the leaders of nations to agree on ambitious targets, binding timelines, and concrete action.”
So far, for the sake of so-called “success” at Rio+20, the Brazilian government has opted for an easy, one-size-fits-all text. ACT Alliance believes this risks diminishing the UN’s credibility and the multilateral negotiation system, particularly if the summit simply repeats the agreements reached 20 years ago, with few results.
The outcome document contains a few welcome surprises: it commits to ensuring access to energy for all, while also drawing a link between sustainable development goals and the process for creating a new development framework after the Millennium Development Goals’ 2015 deadline.
Nevertheless, the paper falls short of being the once-in-a-generation opportunity that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had anticipated it would be, ACT Alliance argues. The organisation is now urging the UNCSD to see to it that Rio+20 far exceeds the world’s expectations and the commitments governments made in 1992.
For the poorest and the marginalised people with whom ACT Alliance members work, genuine transformation means a shift towards prioritising social and ecological needs over economic growth. It also requires the creation of binding systems to regulate the private sector, as well as a strong commitment to ensure the participation of all sections of society, centred on respect for human rights.
June 20, 2012