The gains of Rio+20

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in June in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has had significant outcomes. It was perhaps too simplicistic to expect this effort to find immediate solutions to the world's most pressing problem of climate change. It is certainly true that the leaders from around 120 countries met amidst low expectations to set a series of clear goals for sustainable development and to discuss green growth. It was feared that leaders lacked political will and were particularly afraid of the costs of moving away from fossil fuel-derived energy and towards renewables. Yet the conference has come up with a roadmap towards a sustainable future which could possibly translate into far-reaching consequences for the global environment. The conference has been hailed as an important victory for multilateralism, for, after months of difficult negotiations, the countries have renewed their political commitment to sustainable development. This was no easy task given that there were immense differences between there viewpoints of the many countries, especially those of the developed world and the developing world. It is therefore heartening that they have agreed to establish a set of sustainable development goals and also a high-level political forum on sustainable development. It is also a highlight of the conference that the outcome document calls for a wide range of actions, such as detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development and the strengthening of the UN Environment Programme. The conference has also promoted corporate sustainability reporting measures,  and has provided for taking steps to go beyond gross domestic product to assess the well-being of a country in favour of a more green measure. The conference has also provided for  developing a strategy for sustainable development financing and for adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production. These are all important steps for a green world economy and one that will lower humankind's carbon footprint. Interestingly, the conference also focused on improving gender equity and recognising the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development as well as the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy, among other points that would lead to a greener world.

As far as India is concerned, the basic success lay in affirming the right to development of a country. India also ensured the continuing  national sovereignity over a country's resources. A happy development at the conference was the realisation that there cannot be any sustainable development unless poverty and squalor are first eradicated and the social and economic condition of the people are raised to a desirable level. This can only happen if developed countries come forward with more liberal financial assistance to the developing ones, which was recognised. The summit acknowledged the need for a radical change in attitude of the developed countries towards economic growth and development. This has been a major gain of Rio+20.
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