The dysmal prospects of Rio+20
When the international community now convenes again in Rio, they have to deal with a harsher reality than twenty and forty years ago. While global GDP has grown by 75% since 1992, the planet has never been under such massive pressure. Humanity is now facing its biggest threat so far, global warming.
In just 15 years’ time, global demand for natural resources has doubled, with the regeneration of renewable resources that humans consume in a year now taking 1.5 years. The UN report “A Future Worth Choosing” estimates that in 2030, the world will need at least 50% more food, 45% more energy, and 30% more water.
It is against this background of increasingly greater challenges in almost every environmental respect, that the Conference, popularly known as Rio +20, takes place. The prospect of achieving adequate and legally binding commitments to address environmental degradation is unlikely to be better today than on previous occasions.
World governments should now establish global sustainability goals on the model of the Millennium Development Goals (2000) for poverty reduction and development. An institutional condition is to upgrade the UN Environment Programme to a full UN body to ensure that commitments are fulfilled. The world has never needed it as much as today.