Friday, June 11, 2010

1st UN Rio+20 PLATFORM Stakeholder Consultation in Sri Lanka and Workshop


“Climate Sustainability in a Green Economy”
 (09th June 2010 at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo from 7-9pm)
The first UN Rio+20 Summit PLATFORM Consultation in Colombo resolved that the proposed framework for a green agenda should clearly reflect the aspirations of the people in Asia, who represent half of the worlds poor, to eradicate poverty as a prerequisite for sustainable development. The way forward is to adopt and enforce sustainable consumption and production and to forge Climate Sustainability towards creating wellbeing and happiness for all.

‘Climate Sustainability PLATFORM’ together with the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), Global Sustainability Solutions (GLOSS) along with event partners  The Management Club (TMC) and Responsible Business Initiative (RBI) held its first UN Rio+20 Summit Stakeholder Consultation in Colombo on 9th June 2010 at the Galle Face Hotel under the theme of “Climate Sustainability in a Green Economy”. This was a follow up to the 1st Preparatory Committee Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, referred to as RIO+20, held in New York last May.

The Rio+20 Summit is to be convened in 2012 with the aim of agreeing on a framework for a green economy on the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, the event that led heightened environmental awareness across the world.  Following the 1st Preparatory Committee Meeting for Rio+20, the Climate Sustainability PLATFORM has launched an initiative to engage all stakeholders in the process.

The consultation was moderated by Mr. Uchita de Zoysa, convener of the Climate Sustainability PLATFORM. In his opening address de Zoysa said “During the past twenty years we have come a long way to bring clarity on sustainability and awareness on sustainable development. Now the transition is about to officially take place in the form of a Green Economy. There is no single definition, agreement or comprehension as to what a Green Economy is, but with lot of deliberation the 1st Preparatory Committee Meeting in New York recently has agreed that it entails Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development. I would have thought it the other way round; Sustainable development should entail a green economy, poverty eradication and also and overarching issues of climate sustainability. This is why we are calling for this early PLATFORM consultation under the theme of Climate Sustainability in a Green Economy.”

Mr. Felix Dodds of the Stakeholder Forum for RIO+20 in his message to the consultation said “In two years' time, Rio de Janeiro will host another Earth Summit - 20 years after the first. The idea was proposed in 2007 by Brazil's President Lula da Silva at the UN General Assembly. It was clear to President Lula and to a growing number of others that the world has changed enormously since 1992, when the world agreed to Agenda 21 - the blueprint for creating a sustainable way of life in the 21st Century. Rio 2012 could provide much-needed new momentum to international co-operation, not only on environment and sustainable development, but also on the problems that underpin the global financial crisis.”

The consultation was organised in two main sessions. First was a Workshop with thematic session and was attended by management level representative from business, government and civil society organizations. The second was Dialogue which drew participation from leaders from government, business, civil society, academic and professional organizations and from media. 

The first part of the consultations was conducted in a workshop which had four thematic sessions;
SESSION-1: Climate Sustainability & Corporate Climate Responsibility
SESSION-2: Corporate Social Responsibility & a Responsible Business Framework
SESSION-3: Greening the Economy and the Role of Sustainable Consumption & Production
SESSION-4: Strategic Corporate Sustainability & Incubator for Sustainable Business Ideas

The main presentations were made by;
Mr. Uchita de Zoysa (Chairman – Global Sustainability Solutions – Sri Lanka)
Dr. Faiz Shah (Head of Development Management – Asian Institute for Technology - Thailand)
Dr. Lewis Akenji (Fellow – Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - Japan)
Mrs. Ambreen Waheed (Executrive Director – Responsible Business Initiative - Pakistan)

Workshop Participants agreed that;
       responsible business IS sustainable business (SB)
       SB cannot afford to exacerbate climate challenges
       SMEs understand their social role & may be more sustainable
       entrenched models do not advert enough to SME’s role
       lessons in sustainable business may be learnt from SMEs
       answers for even big business may lie in these lessons
       progressing from efficiency to sufficiency is a possibility

Participants endorsed;
       A move towards an empowered regional dialogue
       Tangible steps to consolidate Climate Sustainability
        Participatory mechanisms for knowledge-sharing
       Establishing a wide-as-possible learning network
       Establishing a doable agenda for sustainable behaviors
       Concrete steps & role models to prepare for RIO+20
       Time for Action towards Climate Sustainability…

The second part of the consultation was in the form of a dialogue.

In his opening speech, Climate Sustainability PLATFORM convener, Mr. Uchita de Zoysa traced the evolution of the global sustainable development process since the 1st Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Emphasizing that the Rio+20 Earth Summit needs to focus its attention to coming up with binding international agreement on poverty eradication, sustainable consumption and production, and climate sustainability.  De Zoysa said, even though climate change is talked about as the greatest challenge to humankind, half the world’s population continues to live under poverty, struggling for survival at this very moment. Hence, the real task for Rio+20 is to review its original commitments to ensure well-being of all citizen of the earth and to adopt practical measures towards creating a sustainable development within the member nations.

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, vice-chair of the Nobel Prize-winning fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, delivering the keynote address pointing out that the world can be saved from the dangers posed by climate change by sustainable consumers and producers. ”We need to look at finding integrated solutions for multiple global problems rather than trying to solve these problems seperately”, he said, warning that climate change is a threat amplifier for the growing risk of financial-economic crises, persistent poverty and growing inequity, shortages of energy, water and food, and other extreme events.

The Honourable Faizer Mustafa, Deputy Environment Minister was the evening’s Chief Guest. Speaking on Sri Lanka’s sustainable development policy guided the ’Haritha Lanka Programe’under the vision of his excellency the President’s vision of ’Mahinda Chinthanaya’, the honourable minister invited business and civil society to join in its realization.  He said that the the Haritha Lanka programme will be implemented for 2010-20-16 under the supervision of the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD). He confirmed the Ministry of Environement’s resolve to further strengthen the role of stakeholder through an empowerd NCSD.

Opening the panel discussion, Dr. Faiz Shah head of Development Management at the Asian Institute for Technology, Bangkok, summarized the outcomes of the workshop preceding the Dialogue, reporting that the cross-section of business and civil society attending the workshop reaffirmed the approach indicated by Mr. De Zoysa, Prof. Munasinghe and the Honourable Minister, and reinforced the Climate Sustainability PLATFORM’s mission of greater engagement and practical solutions to issues of climate change.  ”Sustainable businesses are in fact responsible businesses, and with their enormous potential, fit firmly into the clean and green economy paradigm”.
The dialogue provided insight into how businesses are gearing up to survive in changing climate and proposer in a green economy, why sustainable consumption and production must become essential business tools, and why social responsibility is so integral to the future market place. The dialogue panel comprising Dr. Lewis Akenji, Fellow at IGES-Japan, Mrs. Ambreen Waheed, Executive Director RBI-Pakistan, Dr. Ananda Mallawathantri UNDP Assistant Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, and Mr. Rizvi Zaheed, CEO of Hayleys presented their perspectives
on the emerging trends, and how to proceed from here.  Participants of this well-attended dialogue event represented government, business, civil society, academia, proffessional and media.

Next Steps in the Rio+20 Process of  the Climate Sustainability PLATFORM:
       Producing discussion agenda for dialogues across region
       Documenting the regional recommendations  – good & bad
       Developing learning materials for dissemination
       Organizing a Rio+20 Stakeholder Summit in Asia
       Collaborating with partners to ensure climate sustainability

(for information contact Mr. Uchita de Zoysa

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