Freshwater One of Biggest Issues Ahead of Rio+20
15 Jun 2012 - 11:18 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
washington, dc, united states — Freshwater “is one of the biggest issues that has come out” of final preparatory meetings in Rio before heads of states arrive next week, Director of the United Nations Environment Program’s Regional Office for North America Amy Fraenkal told OOSKAnews in a telephone briefing.
These preparatory meetings are working to develop the final text to go with the agreement head of states will consider during their talks at the Rio+20 global sustainability conference on June 20-22.
“It (freshwater) was the issue that every region of UNEP [United Nations Environment Program] around the world named as a priority, so I personally would be surprised if there was not some language on that in the final text, but I think it’s just too soon to tell as it is with any of these provisions at the moment,” Fraenkal added.
Keya Chatterjee, International Climate Policy Director for WWF-US, responding to an OOSKAnews question about WWF’s push to have natural capital included in the final text, said “our position is that we need to have food, water, energy for all forever, which means it needs to be done in a sustainable way.
“If you are looking at how you do that, well then you need to understand that natural capital has value. It has economic value. It also has intrinsic value.”
In the 20 years since the first Rio conference, we have still not “valued nature in a serious way,” she said, pointing to the 70 percent decline in freshwater ecosystem biodiversity in tropical regions as a step backwards.
“We have a moment in time right now where we can all get together and commit to reversing that backsliding. There is a big difference between now and 20 years ago, and that is that now we know what works. We have great examples all over the world of what works and we are seeing those examples come out at side events at Rio.”
“The challenge today is not how do we find solutions. The challenge today is how do we get people to take it seriously that the planet is in a state of decline and implement those solutions,” she added.
Chatterjee also noted the increased momentum for including proper calculations of natural capital. “There is definitely momentum growing certainly at the local scale, the municipal scale and even at the national scale, and over the next week we will see whether that momentum has been translated to the multi-lateral scale,” she said.
A lot of countries understand why natural capital is so valuable, many in the developing world, so “there is no question we have a lot of support…the question is whether somebody will step into the vacuum of leadership that we are seeing right now and make sure this gets implemented at an international level.”
Other important provisions discussed in the briefing includes energy access, fossil fuel subsidies, ocean biodiversity management and extending international waters, and existing models of sustainable development.