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Rio+20 abandons the people, favours corporate growth

Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday, June 20, 2012 — The following is a statement from IBON International.

As world leaders gather today to discuss a social, economic and environmental roadmap intended to address ecological degradation, they are holding a blueprint for the continued control and commodification of the world’s resources by a few for profits.


Rio+20 comes in the midst of an unprecedented global economic and financial crisis, which has pushed peoples of the South into a state of deeper poverty and debt than they were in two decades ago.


Ironically, the 1992 principles of Rio and its applications are buried in the very summit intended to renew commitments for this and more. The summit is supposed to advance and do away with destructive development patterns that have caused untold suffering and misery for the world’s peoples and move towards genuine sustainable development. But clearly, Rio+20 has not advanced people’s rights and welfare, as the supposed “gains” in the outcome document were merely reiterations of the promises made 20 years ago, at the first Rio summit.


Instead, Rio+20 has proven to be a hard-fought battle with developing countries struggling to pare down the “green economy” agenda being pushed by industrialized countries. That the rights enshrined in Agenda 21 had to be struggled for only reveals the true nature of the summit: an effort by industrialized countries to struggle out of their own crisis by placing price tags on nature. We are dismayed that these rights had to be fought for tooth-and-nail in this summit when these had already been outlined in Rio, 20 years ago.


IBON International decries this: that governments have chosen to abandon genuine sustainable development for the people. The summit advocates increased private sector participation, giving the green light for the further corporate stranglehold of the world’s resources; deletion and diminution of the rights to food, health and water; promotion of trade liberalization; and refusal of the North to put in place clear commitments for developing countries in trade, finance, technology transfer and capacity building.


By not coming up with clear commitments, the Rio+20 Summit has guaranteed the continuation of poverty, social inequities, disruption, misery and destruction of livelihoods of the world’s peoples. Undoubtedly, the grave impacts of irreversible climate change have now come upon us but governments have opted to look the other way and pursue their mis-priorities and failed development model.


We commend developing countries for blocking the impositions of, and diluting, the green economy agenda being pushed by the North. Through the collective efforts of Southern countries in resisting this rehashed corporate-driven development engine, the green economy monster has been defanged sizably. It is, however, still a monster that can be resurrected at any time to wreak its ill effects — for instance through the G20 — once Southern countries let their guards down.


It is now incumbent upon heads of state to rectify this travesty of Rio and to live up to their responsibility of upholding the Rio Principles.


With an outcome document that has abandoned the basic tenets of social justice, we call upon the heads of state to deliver on Rio. They must undo the gross transgression of peoples’ rights as well as the continued pursuit of an unsustainable, corporate-driven development model, which Rio+20 has re-affirmed.