Expectations to produce a strong outcome document at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) are still high, a senior UN official said today.
“Delegates are sharing feedback on the consolidated text presented by Brazil,” Rio+20’s Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, said in a statement, adding that he remains optimistic that delegations will reach an agreement before tonight’s deadline.
On Friday, the responsibility of the negotiations was handed over to the Brazilian Government, which holds the Presidency of Rio+20. The South American nation has since presented a shorter consolidated text for countries to work on.
Over the weekend, the Brazilian Government indicated that the consultation process on the outcome document is expected to conclude on 18 June. It will then be put forward for adoption by Member States when they meet from 20 to 22 June.
In a press briefing on Sunday, a Rio+20 spokesperson, Pragati Pascale, stressed that the new version of the text reflects the same agreements and disagreements on the outcome document which have engaged Member States over the past few weeks. She also emphasized that a shorter version did not mean that the text had become weaker.
“They’re trying to find consensus,” Ms. Pascale said. “We’re all confident that the differences can be bridged.”
Delegations working on the text are now concentrating in four key areas: building an institutional framework for sustainable development, agreeing on the means of implementation, oceans and the establishment of sustainable development goals.
“At this stage, Brazil is at the heart of the negotiations now,” the Head of the Rio+20 Secretariat, Nikhil Seth, told reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Monday afternoon, adding that since the handover to Brazil, there has been rapid progress, with parties agreeing on a number of issues.
“Delegates are not looking at linguistic refinement of paragraphs anymore, they are looking at the bigger picture” Mr. Seth said.
Rio+20’s high-level meeting runs 20-22 June, and is expected to bring together over 100 heads of State and government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.