Progressio is calling for “a higher level of ambition and commitment” at the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

In our response to the Zero Draft document, we say the Draft needs strengthening “if it is to best serve the needs of poor and marginalised people globally”. In particular, we call for a stronger focus on water for livelihoods, and for meaningful participation of poor and marginalised people, and women in particular.

The Zero Draft was released by the UN in January after considering thousands of submissions. It is the starting point for the negotiations that will now gather pace and reach their culmination at the Summit in June.

Progressio is “pleased that many of the points [we] made in our Zero Draft submission have been articulated in this Draft”, but we say in our response called The future we need: “There is still much work to be done over the coming months to ensure the Rio+20 Summit will be meaningful, consequential, and relevant.”

Our key recommendations include:

  • a greater emphasis on fairness and participation: not just a green economy, but a green and fair economy
  • stronger recognition of the need for sustainable and equitable access to water, particularly for women who play a crucial role as water managers for poor families and communities
  • more prominence for action on climate change.

Tim Aldred, Progressio’s Head of Policy and Communications, says:

“In the coming decades we need to bring down what are still scandalously high levels of poverty across the world. We also need to stop running down the scarce and fragile resources of the natural world on which we all depend for our lives and livelihoods. 

“Some argue that at a time of economic difficulty we can’t afford to prioritise the environment, or the poorest people. They are wrong.

“The ‘natural capital’ of land, water, biodiversity and forests underpin the wellbeing – including the economic wellbeing – of all of us. As the world's population increases, and we seek to enable each and every person to have a fulfilled, dignified life, free of poverty and hardship, the capacity of the planet to cope is coming under serious stress.

“We need to do better at looking after and sharing the earth’s resources, to improve lives today –  especially those of the poorest people – and for the sake of future generations.

“We will only be able to do this if there is effective collaboration between people and governments across the world. The Rio+20 summit is a great opportunity to make such collaboration happen. It is too good an opportunity to miss.

“So, while this first Draft is a reasonable starting point, world governments now need to be much more ambitious, if Rio+20 is going to be the spur to action that we desperately need."

Photo: Women and children in a village in Malawi (photo taken by ICS Progressio volunteers, August 2011)