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The outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development “Rio+20” Some critical comments

Eckard Rehbinder

elni Review 2012, Issue 2,  pp. 68-73.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) took place in Rio de Janeiro between 20 and 22 June 2012. Against the backdrop of a worsening global environment it dealt with a broad range of issues of policy for sustainable development at international, regional, national, and local levels, including reform of the UN institutions in the field of sustainable development. The conference was the largest of all UN summits on environment and sustainable development ever held as from 1972, assembling, apart from representatives of governments and intergovernmental organisations, about 40,000 participants form the press and stakeholder organisations. Around the conference, a great number of - partly high level - side events were held. The conference was concluded with a Declaration ('Outcome of the Conference') named 'The Future we want'.
The author of this article shares some critical comments on the summit outcome. Among other things, he believes that Rio+20 produced only few tangible results and that in particular the whole concept of sustainable development has remained open-ended. Nevertheless, he thinks that a major achievement of the Conference has been the firm commitment by states to increase the role of public participation, especially at the international level, and that the enormous activation of civil society that occurred in the preparation of and during the conference will leave its stamp on future developments.

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