Friday, December 11, 2009

From OUTREACH at COP15 (Friday 11th December)

“Sustainable Consumption and Production Should be the main Focus of all Global Sustainability Agreements by 2012”- says Nitin Desai (Secretary General of UN-WSSD)
By Uchita de Zoysa (Convener – Climate Sustainability PLATFORM)

Nitin Desai, the former Secretary General of the World Summit on Sustainable Development believes that most of the problems on earth and climate change are related to unsustainable consumption and production patterns, and the PLATFORM should be pushing hard for an ‘International Agreement on Sustainable Consumption and Production’ by 2012 . After participating in the Climate Sustainability PLATFORM he then joined me yesterday in an exclusive dialogue to discuss our approach towards global agreements in 2012. This is the year when the Kyoto Protocol may come to an end, and when the UNCSD will be starting to implement a Ten Year Framework of Programmes on Earth. In fact this is the year that the world will be celebrating 20 years since the Earth Summit and when Rio+20 UN Summit is proposed.

It was Mr. Mauruice Strong as Secretary General of UNCED in 1992 who said that “It is the last chance to save the earth”. It was during his leadership that the Climate Convention was born. But perhaps it was Mr. Desai who had the best chance to enforce an agreement to eradicate poverty in 2002 at the WSSD. So can we do that at least in 2012 and a Rio+20 give us a binding agreement on poverty eradication? Mr. Desai says “you have to worry about poverty, and then you also have to worry about energy poverty. Whether it is climate change or poverty eradication, we need to ensure that sustainable consumption and production gets the main focus”.

“In 2012 the interest would be on two themes, the Green Economy and Sustainable Consumption and Production. There is no way to talk about a green economy simply by talking about taxes and subsidies. You have to ask your self, what is the underlying consumption and production base? The time is right for this sustainable consumption and production to become central to the UN agenda”.

“We have reached a point where nobody can say that our way of life is not for negotiation”. Nitin Desai wanted movements like the PLATFORM to lead the way in driving global agreements to focus on sustainable consumption and production. “Change comes from the global opinion and global consensus. Therefore, civil society groups would be the ones to drive this cause, and today my efforts in India too are with civil society action”.

But has global opinion been heard? A colleague from Sri Lanka, Mr. Harsha Ratnaweera was totally unimpressed with what is happening at the COP15 in Bella Centre. “After 20 years of talk and activities, what progress is being made? This is another circus that is costing an enormous amount of money. Who is paying for all this? The tax paying citizens!”

After twenty years of campaigning for sustainability in and around the UN Summits, I have to agree with him. Nothing seems to be changing in the approach of UN conferences. They are not just a waste of money and resources, but are becoming more and more distant to the people and their aspirations. It is inspiring to have Mr. Desai joining civil society to drive the real issues such as consumption and production within the UN agenda. So are we joining forces as citizens of one world and to create a better world? Mr. Desai, by joining the PLATFORM shows that all of us may have a common desire to fight together as a single human race against climate change. But, how can we convince the negotiators at COP15 that we are not just simply asking for emission reductions, but Climate Sustainability? The PLATFORM, together will be working towards making sustainable consumption and production inclusive in all global agreements.

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This article was originally published in OUTREACH a daily newsletter published by Stakeholder Forum

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