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Vision: is this a blueprint for the future we want?

  • The text articulates the urgent need and scale of the challenge we face. It's unequivocal on poverty, environmental degradation and climate change. These points are well made.
  • But, much of this text is a restatement of what has gone before, a compendium of past promises; there's nothing to suggest that governments really mean it and there are few new commitments to hold governments accountable to.
  • What we needed and didn't get from this agreement is a text that sets humanity on a new course that offers a vision for a new world; there's little in the text that's truly game-changing.
  • This is ironic because the text does say that sustainable development "requires concrete and urgent action". But there is no concrete or urgent action here, no targets or deadlines.

Policy on water: is this the future Progressio wants?

Progressio has been calling for a 'waterproofed Rio+20', an outcome document that comprehensively acknowledges the centrality of water to sustainable development. In words, at least, Rio+20 has been waterproofed - but we’ll have to wait to whether words can be turned into deeds as implementation will be key making this count. Unfortunately, the lack of goals and targets on water may impede process.

Overall, we welcome the texts related to water because they:

  • acknowledge the centrality of water to sustainable development;
  • recognise that water is a scarce resource, which needs to be used much more efficiently and with less waste;
  • stress the need to significantly improve the implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels;
  • recognise the key role that ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality.
  • identify the link between water and other development issues. Specifically it references the synergies between water resource management and policies on agriculture, cities and gender.

Implementation is the big gap in the text. There is a lack of commitment and clarity on how this will be implemented and what all these 'recognitions' will mean in practical terms. Specifically, the text does not:

  • reference the need for participatory approaches to water governance;
  • reference the need for poor communities to contribute to decision-making;
  • articulate the important part that women play in effective water resource management;
  • explicitly reference the General Assembly resolution for the fulfilment of the human right to water and sanitation.

Policy on Sustainable Development Goals: building blocks to the future we want?

We welcome the text as it relates to the sustainable development goals, especially given that SDGs nearly didn't make the text at all, as it:

  • makes specific reference to SDGs as universally applicable;
  • confirms the need to focus on fulfilling the MDGs before starting SDGs;
  • states that the SDG consultation process will include stakeholder engagement.

But we regret that the text does not:

  • make clear reference to both a single set of goals and a single process to develop them;
  • make explicit reference to the participation of poor communities in this process;
  • name indicative themes, and therefore does not identify water as a key theme.

Is this the future people Progressio works alongside in poor communities want?

Those we work with, including poor rural people, would be heartened to hear that this conference goes a long way to recognising safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, and that the text recognises the importance for small-scale farmers to have better access to markets and health services.

But the point remains that the text is very weak when it comes to means of implementation, particularly regarding financing. In the end, the people we work with will only care about results.

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