Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Race against clock as Rio wrangle goes to overtime

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

The Christ the Redeemer statue is lit up in green to celebrate the Rio+20 forum in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Talks on a new global charter to protect the environment and eradicate poverty were heading into overtime on Friday as officials said they faced a battle to seal a deal ahead of a UN summit.

The cornerstone document of the Rio+20 summit, to be held from Wednesday to Friday, aims to set a path for nurturing the planet’s natural bounty and promoting green growth.

However, after five months of wrangling, talks on a draft entered their final scheduled day on Friday with agreement on only 28 percent of the 81-page text, officials said.

Responsibility for steering the haggle was expected to be handed yesterday to Brazil, the conference host, Nikhil Seth of the UN’s Division for Sustainable Development said.

“It’s everyone’s hope that by [June] 19 at the latest, everything will be wrapped up,” he said. “There is a sense of optimism, but in every room, there is a sense also that the enemy now is time.”

Brazilian delegation chief Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, confirming the target date, said: “We have no intention to hand undecided issues to heads of state.”

Ahead of next week’s UN summit, hundreds of corporate leaders launched a four-day forum on Friday to discuss how the private sector could help advance sustainable development goals.

In opening remarks, UN Global Compact executive director Georg Kell underscored the key role of “innovation and collaboration” in the process.

The Global Compact, a UN initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, has 7,000 corporate participants in 135 countries.

Forum organizers said private-public partnerships and more than 100 corporate commitments would be announced and recommendations would be submitted to Rio+20 summit leaders next week.

The Conference on Sustainable Development is the 20-year followup to the Earth Summit, when UN members made historic agreements to combat climate change, wildlife loss and desertification.

An expected turnout of 116 heads of state or government will cap a week-long gathering of as many as 50,000 activists, business executives and policymakers.

Progress on the so-called outcome document has been mired by discord, often pitching developing economies against rich ones.

“There are lively discussions still going on,” US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said in a conference call with journalists. “There’s still a lot to be wrestled with.”

Problems include a set of sustainable development goals to succeed the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, due to expire in 2015, to encourage the green economy and mustering funds to promote sustainable development.

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