At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), some $513 billion in funding has been committed by governments, the private sector, civil society and other groups to achieve a sustainable future.
“From the very beginning we have said that Rio+20 is about implementation and concrete action,” said Rio+20's Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today. “The commitments that we share with you today demonstrate that governments, the UN systems, and the nine major groups are committed and serious about implementation.”
A wide range of actions have also been pledged during Rio+20. These include planting 100 million trees, empowering 5,000 women entrepreneurs in green economy businesses in Africa, and recycling 800,000 tons of polyvinyl chloride (commonly known as PVC) – one of the most widely used plastics – per year.
Some 40,000 people – including Heads of State and government, representatives from non-governmental organizations and the private sector – have been in Rio de Janeiro for the past three days, attending Rio+20, and seeking to help shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
A key element on the Conference has been its outcome document, entitled “The Future We Want” and agreed on by Member States.
“I'm very grateful and encouraged by world leaders for their strong political commitments to agree to a solid outcome document which puts all of us towards a greater sustainable path,” Secretary-General Ban said in an interview.
The outcome document calls for a wide range of actions, such as beginning the process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme (UNEP); promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures; taking steps to go beyond gross domestic product to assess the well-being of a country; developing a strategy for sustainable development financing; and, adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production.
The document also focuses on improving gender equity; recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development; and stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy; among other points.
Over 50 million people from all over the world have taken part in Rio+20 through social media platforms, voicing their comments, opinions and ideas, making the platforms a key component in establishing a global conversation on sustainability issues both in the lead-up to and during the Conference.
“Rio+20 has been a great success,” Mr. Sha said. “It had a huge participation, but participation without success means nothing, but we succeeded in concluding negotiations and agreeing to establish not only sustainable development goals but also a high-level forum to monitor the implementation of all commitments.”