| RIO DE JANEIRO, June 22
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 22 A U.N. development
summit ended on Friday with an agreement that put off the
implementation of many proposals on protecting the world's
natural resources from climate change and globalization, leaving
many attendees asking the question, "What next?"
Nearly 100 heads of state and government gathered over the
past three days in efforts to establish "sustainable development
goals," a U.N. drive built around economic growth, the
environment and social inclusion.
While some governments were reasonably satisfied with the
outcome document for the Rio+20 summit, others were disappointed
and even angry with a perceived lack of ambition and sense of
urgency to deal with the problems arising from rises in
consumption, population and industrialization.
Following is a Q+A on what could happen next after the
WHERE SHOULD RIO+20 LEAD?
The aim of the summit was to agree on ways to achieve
economic growth in a way that ensures everyone in the world has
access to sustainable food, energy and water without further
damaging the environment.
Governments have endorsed a universal shift to a "green
economy," which would amount to a transformation of traditional
consumption and production practices.
The hope is that companies and individuals will change their
ways of doing business and their lifestyles.
Corporate and government accounting will likely reflect
environmental profit and loss within a decade, thanks partly to
Rio+20, backers of the plan said.
But achieving wider goals will not happen overnight.
"The green economy is not a big bang, it's a transition,"
said Donald Kaberuka of the African Development Bank, or AfDB.
"Some say it will take up to 50 years. Rio is not supposed to be
the end of the process but the beginning of the journey."
WHEN WILL WORK START ON THE ISSUES AGREED ON?
Practical work on the Rio+20 agreement will begin
immediately, Brazil's minister of the environment, Izabella
Teixeira, said on Friday.
"We have methods and deadlines to be met until we complete
the process that will be consolidated in 2014 or 2015," she
European Union Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik was
"We need to sleep on it and see (the text) with less
emotions and then we will have to focus concretely on the
process after Rio," he told Reuters.
WHICH DEADLINES HAVE TO BE MET AND WHEN?
The sustainable development goals, or SDGs, will have to be
set by the end of 2014 at the latest so that they can complement
a revised set of millennium development goals aimed at
eradicating poverty, when the current ones expire in 2015.
U.N. officials will have to work on avoiding too much
overlap between the two sets of development goals.
"Before we begin to move on to universal goals, there is
still unfinished business with MDs which has to be dealt with
before 2015. The discussion now is on the post-2015 agenda. That
conversation will be very important," said AfDB's Kaberuka.
A working group with representatives from 30 countries - six
representatives for each continent - will work on defining SDGs
and present a study to the U.N. General Assembly in September
Work on identifying on how much finance for sustainable
development is needed and ways to raise it have to be finished
by a U.N. meeting in September 2014.
Work on some other issues will take longer, with years such
as 2020 or 2025 specified in the agreement.
HOW WILL WORK BE ORGANIZED?
Working groups will be appointed to work on some areas, like
SDGs or ocean protection.
Potocnik said there was a proposal, which he dubbed "friends
of the paragraphs," for groups of countries with a special
interest in a topic in the agreement to work on it.
International bodies could also play a role in work on
implementation, he added, without specifying which ones.
WILL THERE BE A RIO+30 OR RIO+40?
A follow-up to the Rio+20 summit of the same scale in 10
years or even another 20 years has not been set, but many
observers at the summit say progress on some of the issues in
Friday's agreement needs to be measured.
Some of the timelines in the Rio+20 agreement are so far
into the future that measures may be too late to avoid the worst
impacts of climate change and globalization.
"We don't have 20 years or even 10," said Kumi Naidoo,
executive director of Greenpeace International.
"History tells us little will happen in real terms and
definitely not at the timescale of urgency climate science tells
us is needed," he added.
WHAT CAN BE DONE OUTSIDE THE RIO+20 AGREEMENT?
A series of much-hyped global summits on environmental
policy has now fallen short of expectations, going back at
least to a 2009 U.N. meeting in Copenhagen that ended in
As a result, many ecologists, activists, and business
leaders believe that progress on environmental issues must be
made locally with the private sector, without counting on the
help of international accords.
"We've believed all along that the more groundbreaking
action at Rio+20 would be outside of the formal process," said
Manish Bapna, acting president of the World Resources Institute.
On the sidelines of the summit, companies and local
governments launched various projects and commitments.
On Wednesday, eight multilateral development banks pledged
$175 billion over 10 years in support of sustainable transport
Earlier this week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and
colleagues from around the world sought to show how cities could
make progress even if a multinational agreement was not
"Perhaps some of the most important work that is happening
here are what used to be considered side events - the
partnerships between private sector and academia and NGOs and
local governments and state level governments," said Lisa
Jackson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Paulo Prada and
Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Peter Cooney)