Countdown to Rio+20: VIDEO Big-hitters bemoan lack of action

By John Parnell

In the run-up to the UN’s Rio+20 conference on Sustainable Development RTCC will be examining some of the highlights from the original Earth Summit in 1992 and assessing its success.

The Rio Earth Summit achieved impressive agreements but subsequent actions didn't all materialise. The young gentleman at the podium above is Al Gore. (Source: UN/Michos Tsovaras)

The scale and ambition of the first Rio conference were admirable, as was the scale of agreement reached at its conclusion.

The summit led to the creation of three new UN bodies to tackle climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss. However, implementing action has proved harder as the tortuous negotiating process on climate change proved in Copenhagen in 2009.

Here, senior UN figures including Achim Steiner, current Executive Director of UNEP and Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the ’92 Earth Summit call for more action in the aftermath of this year’s event than after the first Rio meeting in 1992.

“It was the year the cold war ended. The whole atmosphere was of the world coming together to solve its problems,” says Nitin Desai, Secretary General, Rio+10.

Despite that sense, and the good turnout, the summit’s legacy was not ensured.

“We had more NGOs than had ever been assembled, more heads of government than had ever assembled,” says Strong.

“We got agreement beyond what anyone thought was possible. The problem is what happened afterwards, which was not enough,” he adds.

The Regeneration Project is an initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility, working on a sustainable development roadmap.

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