UNFCCC chief: Rio+20 and climate change talks have common goals

By John Parnell

The Rio+20 summit complements but does not displace the UN climate change negotiations according to the talk’s chief.

Speaking to RTCC in Bonn, Christiana Figueres stressed the distinction between the two processes but accepted there was also scope for positive reinforcement of both agendas.

The original Rio summit in 1992 saw the formation of the UN agencies for climate change, desertification and the protection of biodiversity.

“We will be going there because its our 20th birthday party and when you’re invited to a birthday party you usually go,” said Figueres.

“But the only agenda we take to Rio, is to support governments’ deliberations in terms of setting their ambitions as high as possible when considering what kind of society they want to build.”

The Rio+20 event, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development to give it its official title, will focus on aligning environmental and poverty alleviation goals. Figueres describes the process as an “aspirational conversation”.

The UNFCCC is responsible for negotiating legally binding international regulations on climate change action.

“We will not be participating in the negotiations and the statement that comes out of Rio+20 is not a part of our negotiations,” said Figueres. “They are complimentary but they are parallel.”

Despite the different structures and goal of the two organisations, there are also common goals and opportunities for progress on both fronts.

“It is what do we as humans aspire to [sustainable development]. Part and parcel of that is the advancement of the climate convention because there is no sustainable development possible without addressing climate change and vice versa.

“Fortunately all the measures we put in place to address climate change have a positive effect on sustainable development, so that’s a good reinforcement but procedurally they are very different processes,” she added.

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