The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Yearbook is currently
gathering news items for major features on sustainable energy and climate change in
the next edition and has been monitoring progress at Rio+20 towards a greener future
United Nations senior officials have highlighted the achievements made during the United
Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held from 20th to 22nd June in Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil, stressing that they represent a global movement of change in which
governments, the private sector and civil society all contribute to achieve global prosperity
while protecting the environment.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a General Assembly meeting on 28th June on the
outcome of the Conference:
“Let me be clear. Rio+20 was a success, in Rio, we saw the further evolution of an
undeniable global movement for change.”
More than 40,000 people – including parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive
officers and civil society leaders – attended Rio+20 from 20-22 June. The event followed on
from the Earth Summit in 1992, also held in Rio de Janeiro, during which countries adopted
Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure
World leaders attending the summit on sustainable development approved the agreements
drawn up earlier in the week following negotiations by 193 countries.
In his remarks, Mr. Ban highlighted several parts of the Rio+20 outcome document, entitled
‘The Future We Want,’ which he hailed as “an important victory for multilateralism after
months of difficult negotiations.”
These sentiments were echoed by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Environment
Secretary Caroline Spelman who welcomed the progress made towards a more sustainable
future at Rio+20.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who led the UK delegation, set out the UK’s ambition to
build on the Rio+20 agreement. Addressing the final plenary, he said:
“This week we have agreed to set Sustainable Development Goals. I want to see progress in
agreeing these within the post-2015 development framework, so that – as at the original Rio
conference – the environment and development are again part of a coherent whole. I would
like to think that the ideas we have promoted here – governments, civil society, consumers
and business working together and concepts like the green economy and natural capital –
will be central to the way we all behave.
“We need to turn words into action. We need to work together to change behaviours, to
change all our mindsets and put our world on a more sustainable footing. That’s why the UK
Environment Secretary and I have been using the unique platform that Rio provides to talk to
fellow leaders from around the world about how we turn these ideas into reality.”
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, who led talks in reaching the agreement, said:
“We came to Rio with a clear set of ambitious aims on totally new concepts such as
Sustainable Development Goals and GDP+, and we should be positive that we have made
good progress on all them.
“Rio+20 has shown that there is political ambition for change. Now we have to make sure
that will is not squandered. We have already started to make headway in the talks held since
the text was agreed, such as good progress towards deciding on the themes the Sustainable
Development Goals should cover.”
Key points from the agreement for the UK are:
Agreement to establish Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations
General Assembly will appoint a group of representatives from 30 countries by
September to develop the goals, with our aim for these goals to focus on food, water and
Recognition of the importance of the green economy as a way to help nations to grow
sustainably, and to help eradicate poverty
A call from all nations at Rio+20 for businesses to adopt ways of reporting on their
sustainability performance, as championed by the UK delegation and businesses such
Recognition by all nations at Rio+20 of the importance of including the value of natural
capital and social wellbeing into decision making will be given real force by having a UN
commission undertake the work on GDP plus.
Oceans to be given greater prominence with a commitment to extend marine
conservation to on the high seas.
A call for enhanced efforts to sustainably manage forests including reforestation,
restoration and afforestation. The agreement highlights the importance of initiatives such
as REDD+ in reducing emissions from deforestation.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Caroline Spelman have been working to implement the
agreed text over the final three days of the summit.
A Natural Capital Summit was hosted by Nick Clegg with the leaders of nations including
Norway, Denmark, Costa Rica and Gabon to announce that 50 countries and 50 global firms
have made commitments to include the value of natural resources in their accounts as part
of the World Bank’s 50/50 campaign.
Caroline Spelman held talks with world leaders including Presidents and Prime Ministers to
discuss how to take forward work on Sustainable Development Goals, which led to a
developing consensus on the themes that SDGs should cover – including food, water and
energy that the UK has pushed for.
Rio+20 has also been used as an opportunity for many bilateral meetings with other nations
to discuss environmental projects, trade, and ways to boost growth and create jobs in the
The Parliamentary Information Office of the Parliamentary Year book will continue to report
on environmental issues and their impact on the UK as we go through the months ahead.