ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Holding Back the 'Green Economy' Idea, But for How Long?

The agenda of the developed countries at Rio+20 was to confront the issue of sustainability strictly within the scope of the dominant paradigms on how to manage economies. In the end, the developing countries had some cause for satisfaction at the outcome of Rio+20 since some of their core concerns were included in the fi nal document. However, the global South lacks as yet the knowledge capabilities required to counter the fl ood of Northern scholarship that is now directed towards establishing an architecture of global environmental governance that would preserve the current pattern of global economic dominance and signifi cantly shift the burden of sustainability onto the developing world.

Those who had expected a drama­tic Copenhagen or Durban-like finish to the 12th United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio+20, were proved wrong as the conference drew to a quiet close after weeks and months of wrangling among nations over its outcomes. Even before an agreed final document was put together, the absence of three of the most significant world leaders, Barack Obama of the United States, David Cameron of the United Kingdom and Angela Merkel of Germany, suggested that the summit would not produce any far-reaching result. As the negotiations over the final document drew to a close, it was evident that a consensus had been reached without requiring any substantial political input from the ­ministerial segment of the conference.

It would be difficult for any single group of nations to describe the outcome of Rio+20 as a major gain for itself. The summit declaration, titled “The Future We Want”, was a final compromise document, put together by the Brazilian hosts, following “informal consultations” that concluded a day before the summit proper began. It clearly sought to tread a middle path among the many contested issues that had occupied the final few days of negotiations at Rio, when only limited progress was made towards any substantial agreement. Submitted to the final plenary session of negotiators, it predictably met with some criticism from all sides, muted in the case of official delegations and more strident in the case of non-state stakeholders and their organisations.

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