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New from CFR: Julia Sweig on the Rio+20 Conference

by Development Channel Staff
June 21, 2012

A demonstrator wears a costume that represents the Amazon rainforest during a march at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil (Courtesy Reuters). A demonstrator wears a costume that represents the Amazon rainforest during a march at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil (Courtesy Reuters).


In an op-ed in yesterday’s Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), CFR Senior Fellow Julia Sweig discusses how to measure the success of the ongoing Rio+20 Conference. Sweig characterizes the size and scope of the meeting as “too big to succeed,” arguing that:

…success in Rio will be defined less by the stature of official delegations or laudable but nonbinding aspirations of the final document, and more by the state governors and mayors of major cities making commitments with private capital to green infrastructure investments and real mechanisms to reduce emissions.

The full text of the article is available here.

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  • Posted by Dennis Frado

    Dr. Sweig reaches back to 1999 to assert that large global conferences like that just held in Rio are “too big to succeed”. Unfortunately, she does not reach back far enough. The successes of UN conferences in the early 1990s — the original Rio Conference, the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, and the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 – were achieved because of political will which is sorely missing these days. In preparation for and at those meetings the world’s political leaders – including our own — had the willingness and commitment to negotiate with 166 or more countries to secure political outcomes the likes of which have been rare in recent years. Yes, these preparatory talks took lots of energy and effort, but our leaders then believed in the value of multilateral diplomacy and shared a common hope about a better world – difficult though it might be at times to realize it. Instead of a few nations reaching deals in a small room and then expecting every other nation to accept it, as was the case at the Copenhagen climate meeting in 2009, the world needs stronger leadership despite current economic difficulties to re-develop a common vision and then place their collective shoulders to the wheel and work for it.

    Dennis Frado, New York

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