With more than 40,000 attendees from national and local governments, international organizations, businesses, and civil society, as well as more than fifty heads of state and close to 500 ministers, the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20” or “UNCSD”), which took place June 20-22, 2012, was one of the largest international conferences in recent history. For the upcoming High Level Meeting on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels later this month in New York and the recently launched Sustainable Development Solutions Network, both sponsored by the UN, Rio+20 laid important environment-focused groundwork related to governance and the rule of law.
Its name invites comparison with the monumental achievements of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (“Earth Summit”), at which governments endorsed several binding and non-binding international agreements that have shaped the international discourse about sustainable development in the intervening twenty years.
In contrast, the final product of Rio+20—a negotiated statement called “The Future We Want”—marks an important shift in emphasis of sustainability policy from international law to the nexus between international and domestic law. It may achieve the pivotal impact of the 1992 Earth Summit, when taken in concert with over 700 voluntary commitments submitted to the UN Secretary-General by governments, businesses, and civil society to advance sustainable development.
These include commitments by the UN Global Compact, a corporate sustainability initiative whose nearly 7,000 business signatories from 135 countries have committed to aligning their business strategies and operations with sustainability principles. Rio+20 also highlighted the need for new approaches to sustainable development challenges that draw on the strengths of multiple actors, at all levels, to bring about real change.
This Insight provides a brief overview of the key Rio+20 outcomes and examines how it addressed the importance of national environmental governance for sustainable development.
Source: ASIL Insights Volume 16, Issue 28. Full text under this link