This chapter concludes this brief look at the salient points of “The Future we Want”, the outcome document adopted at Rio+20:
47. Companies: the original document encouraged mandatory corporate reporting on Sustainability; the outcome document, however, merely acknowledges its importance.
84-85. Creation of a high-level forum: This is a step forward; at the Brazil summit the Sustainable Development Committee was not at the ministerial level. From now on, environment talks will be held at the political level rather than a technical one.
88. On the role of the UNEP: The UNEP will not become an independent agency, as initially requested, but some diplomats say that in the future it will go from the current 52 members to membership of all of the UN member-states, and that, although it is currently financed through donations, it will have its own budget set by the UN.
104: To ensure current commitments stemming from prior Sustainable Development summits, the original document called on countries to reduce the existing gaps regarding implementation; in the end, no specific actions on current sector-targets were decided.
139. Health: Call for steps to ensure universal health coverage. This coverage is referred to in the outcome document but the latter talks of its “importance” and makes no mention to health coverage as a “right”.
158. Oceans: Originally called for protection for the diversity of the high seas and international waters, as well as restrictions on fishing subsidies. The final draft mentions restrictions on subsidies. However, the intended reference to protection of biodiversity was removed at the last minute following pressures from Venezuela, USA, Canada, Japan and Russia.
193. Forests: The document originally referred to the conservation of forests and the fight on deforestation as one of the ways of achieving sustainable development. It was understood that through this recommendation, governments and international organizations would draw up concrete steps for reforestation. The final document recognizes that is important to deal with the issue but fails to list the appropriate forums.
238. Women: The document originally mentioned “women’s reproductive rights”. The final draft of the outcome document omitted the mention that in some countries the reference was to the right of abortion. The chairperson of the Global Fund for Women, Musimbi Kanyoro, spoke out against pressures from The Vatican to omit the expression “women’s reproductive rights”, which was finally left out. We cannot forget that the world population is on the rise and that, consequently, there is an increasingly greater demand for resources. These are two of the main factors behind Climate Change.
And finally, points 130 and 225. Energy: Although we’ve covered this issue previously, it’s worth stressing that perhaps as a result of pressures from OPEC member states, one of the critical issues, namely the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, warrants no more than a paragraph and is banished to the Consumer section (22) when, by rights and according to logic, it should be included in the Energy section (130).
In the original document, in section 130 it was stated that “we recognize the need for further action to rationalize and phase out subsidies”. In the final document, however, it was replaced by “countries reaffirm the commitments they have made to phase out”. In other words, we go from recognizing the need to take steps, to countries reaffirming the commitments that they have undertaken.