The Future We Want

By Ali Imran

That is the thought-provoking name of the outcome document adopted by world leaders at the RIO+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development hosted by Brazil.

Photo: Official website of UN conference

The agreement by leaders from around the world represents aspirations of the humanity for a just and fair playing field for all countries as they seek betterment in the lives of their people. But how this expression of resolve for an equitable and sustainable development would translate into action remains to be seen since the current global situation presents a complex picture with economic recession, political disputes, no-holds-barred and unending fights for shrinking resources and conflicts driving the agenda of some powerful countries..

The quest for democracy in the Arab world,  accountability of corrupt regimes, the UN concept of equality of nations,  non-interference in other states in the name of national interests, making the United Nations General Assembly an effective and crucial voice in determining the destiny of nations, an end to exploitation of developing nation’s wealth and supremacy of the principles of human dignity and  practical demonstration of values of love and brotherhood in foreign policy remain distant dreams.

But, as the document reflects, aspirations of the people of the world cannot be allowed to remain unrequited for long in this age of the media and freedom of expression.

The Future We Want appears to be a ringing call for realization that a peaceful world demands a fair opportunity for all to progress and develop, not according to a one-size-fits-all approach, but according to peculiar ground realities. However, the common and overriding theme must  be achievement of democracy and development of all people within states as well as of the states,  inclusiveness both domestically and internationally, It also implies the oft-missed point that sharing fruits of human ingenuity, technological advancements and education is the password to peaceful existence between the islands of prosperity and oceans of poverty.

In this regard, he onus is on both the people in the underdeveloped countries and the leadership in prosperous nations. The major world and regional powers will have to help the less privileged countries in pulling them out of poverty trap. The role of international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations would be important. But the role of influential capitals including Washington, Beijing and Brussels, the center of the European Union would be critical.

The loud and unprecedented affirmation by the world leaders to the ideals of democracy and shared development gives rise to hope for enhanced realization and long-awaited action by all towards the kind of future people around the world want for their next generation.

The Future We Want: Outcome document adopted at Rio+20

The document adopted in Rio de Janeiro calls for a wide range of actions, such as beginning the process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme, promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures; taking steps to go beyond gross domestic product to assess the well-being of a country; developing a strategy for sustainable development financing; and, adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production.

The Future We Want: Outcome document also focuses on improving gender equity; recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development; and stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy; among other points.

Over 50 million people from all over the world have taken part in Rio+20 through social media platforms, voicing their comments, opinions and ideas, making the platforms a key component in establishing a global conversation on sustainability issues both in the lead-up to and during the Conference.

In the months leading up to Rio+20, negotiations on the outcome document included several week‐long sessions and many long nights, but under the leadership of the Brazilian Government, a compromise was reached and agreement made by the 193 Member States of the United Nations.

“The outcome document provides a firm foundation for social, economic and environmental well‐being,” UN Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon  said.

“It is now our responsibility to build on it. Now the work begins.”

The document calls for a wide range of actions, among many other points, including:

— launching a process to establish sustainable development goals;

–detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development;

— strengthening the UN Environment Programme and establishing a new forum for sustainable development;  promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures;

— taking steps to go beyond GDP to assess the well‐being of a country;

— developing a strategy for sustainable development financing;

— adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production;

—  focusing on improving gender equality;

— stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy;

–and recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development. Brazilian

President Dilma Rousseff, concluding the Conference, told participants that the outcome document is a great step forward. “I am convinced that this Conference will have the effect of bringing about sweeping change.”

Beyond the negotiated document, voluntary commitments played a key role in the outcome of Rio+20, with an estimated $513 billion mobilized from the 13 largest commitments alone. Over 700 voluntary commitments by civil society groups, businesses, governments, universities and others .

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