Going down to Rio+20

18th June 2012

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Mitigation



Joan Walley, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and chair of the environmental audit committee, argues that leaders must ramp up global ambition to tackle sustainability at Rio+20

A lot of readers will remember, as I do, the huge difference that Agenda 21 made following the first UN Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

The global plan was intended to involve action at international, national, regional and local levels to prevent environmental degradation. Twenty years later that need is more urgent than ever.

Unlike in 1992, and in Johannesburg 10 years later, there is less expectation that the outcome of Rio+20 will be as ambitious. Yet the stakes are higher now than they were then, as scientific evidence points to the accelerating rate of destruction of our natural resources.

There are many disconnects in our life today, and none is greater than that between the ever increasing consumption of resources and the natural environmental limits of those resources.

Unfortunately, there is insufficient understanding and awareness of the work and role of the UN, and of the complex negotiations that underpin events such as Rio+20.

In the UK parliament there is a similar lack of connection between the electorate and their representatives, with a recent Hansard report on the state of our democracy showing that only 48% of people intended to vote at the next general election.

With so many people opting out of active participatory democracy, it is not surprising that MPs are under less pressure to face up to environmental challenges.

The environmental audit committee is determined to address this deficit.

We published a report last year on preparations for the summit. To help raise public awareness, the committee, the Hard Rain Project and St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square staged a debate and exhibition ahead of the summit.

Our message is clear: this Earth Summit has to be ambitious. The environmental challenge is every bit as important as the economic challenge we face.


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