The Return to Rio Rio plus or minus 20? Sustainable Development twenty years after
Rio+20 (DOC, 34 Kb)
Mån 30.1.2012 kl. 13:00-15:00
Twenty years have passed since the historic Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The debate on the scope of sustainable development and UN institutions has picked up again in international policy making. Large geopolitical questions loom in the background: what can be achieved through large thematic meetings in the contemporary multipolar world and fragmented international order? Can the RIO+20 meeting pave way to increased political ambition, or rules-based global governance on environmental issues?
Mika Aaltola, Programme Director, Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Global Sustainability or Survivability?
Tapio Kanninen, Co-Director of the Sustainable Global Governance Project and Senior Fellow, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies in the City University of New York
Janne Hukkinen, Professor, University of Helsinki
Jouni Nissinen, Head of environmental protection, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation
Chair: Antto Vihma, Research Fellow, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs
THE RETURN TO
The seminar was opened by programme director
Dr. Mika Aaltola, who reminded the
audience of the importance of this topic especially now that we are heading
towards the June Rio+20
He began his presentation by looking at the UNEP GEO-5 conclusions, which show that in environmental issues only limited progress has been achieved during the past 20 years. The basic note of evaluation was that globally most components of the environment continue to degrade. Dr. Kanninen continued by pointing out that there are two conflicting views on economic growth and sustainability: the first view assumes that there are no real limits to growth but that this is “polluting growth”, whereas the alternative view acknowledges that there are limits to growth and we are reaching that limit. This latter view is the “inconvenient truth” and thus the engine that forces us to work towards creating a more sustainable ways of living.
Dr Kanninen then moved on to
presenting different definitions of sustainable development and their
implications on economic growth in developing and developed countries. He
outlined the historical backdrop of the key UN conferences –
Dr Kanninen continued by explaining
how the authors of the Zero-draft (the preliminary document for the upcoming
Rio +20 conference) realize that in
order to make significant progress towards building green economies new
investments, new skills formation, technology development, transfer and access,
and capacity building in all countries is required. Dr. Kanninen
referred to the comments of the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), who state that
the zero-draft steps rather delicately
around the question, not only of how much the transition is going to cost, but
how we are going to leverage additional funds. According to the GEC, the
past experience of
After Dr. Kanninen’s presentation Chair, Antto Vihma (FIIA), gave the floor to the commentators.
Professor Janne Hukkinen reflected in his commentary on the definition of “green economy” and noted that the concept is too loose. He highlighted the need for further work on narrowing down on the concept, and bringing in planetary boundaries. Professor Hukkinen also noted, positively, that a lot of the needed technology already exists and that raising significant amounts of public financing rapidly is possible, as proven by the financial crisis. He also remarked that our economy and society is oil dependent, and that running out of oil would bring serious challenges to the whole concept of economic growth. He concluded by stating that due to the current economic crisis we are in many ways in a lock-in situation (not only economically but also institutionally and behaviorally) and what is needed is a general acceptance that societies need to adapt to a new reality.
commentary Jouni Nissinen, Head of Environmental Protection, Finnish Association for Nature
Conservation, began by highlighting the importance of the notion of planetary
boundaries, which was also taken up in the newly published conclusions of the
High Level Panel on Global Sustainability. Mr. Nissinen said that even though
the Brundtland Commission has stated that sustainable development and economic
growth can go hand in hand we must
not forget the physical limits of our planet. He proposed five concrete issues,
which should be remembered in the