By: The Informal-informals [Earth] Team
Earth in Brackets has critically examined the history of sustainable development negotiations, outcome documents, and implementation, and has found it to be, with the exception of small gains made in the implementation of Agenda 21, uninspiring. Current institutions under the UN lack the coherence, jurisdiction and consistency to fully address issues of sustainable development, and there has not been sufficient action addressing these issues. As time progresses, the interconnected crises the world is facing are accumulating and intensifying, making them ever more difficult to combat. The Millenium Development Goals, while ambitious, seem to have been forgotten about and are unlikely to be completed by 2015. Implementation of Agenda 21 has been highly unsatisfactory. Now, there is The Future We Want, a document we find to be lacking in ambition, and which is, despite some participants’ best efforts, being increasingly diluted in the negotiations precluding the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
Therefore, as international youth from [Earth] and the College of the Atlantic, and as voices of the future with a vested interest in the outcome of UNCSD, we have developed The Future We Really Want. We stress that The Future We Really Want is not an all-encompassing final document, but rather a reflection of the work of a focused group of individuals over the course of a concentrated study on the Rio process. It includes some, but not all, of the issues, goals, and actions that we are most passionate about, and that we believe are critical for consideration if there is to be true progress towards sustainable development. It is part of our platform for dialogue and change, both in our own communities, and the greater community of our allies and those with whom we must work harder to collaborate and whom we welcome into productive discussions.
Below, we present some of the key issues and statements outlined in the document:
Negotiators must be truly conscious of their responsibility to future generations, to their constituents, and to one another. Increased political will and commitment to sustainable development and poverty eradication are needed to ensure accelerated fulfillment of sustainable development objectives, and re-commitment to inclusive, transparent and effective multilateralism is needed to better ensure the full and fair participation of all relevant stakeholders.
All States have Common But Differentiated Responsibilities – there are historical ecological, social, and economic obligations, therefore countries must take action proportional to their capacity to do so and proportional to the level of harm they have inflicted on society and the global environment.
There is inequitable distribution of wealth, resources, and opportunities, necessitating full cooperation among member states in supporting multilateral development strategies.
States should reiterate their commitment to the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with a renewed emphasis on the recognition of all human rights including, inter alia, the rights to clean water, food sovereignty, and development.
Neo-liberal economic policies are detrimental to sustainable development. Only a deep reform in the economic system will ensure the equitable fulfillment of sustainable development goals.
The economy should serve to fulfill basic human rights and need, and should be based on cooperation beyond consumption and growth while avoiding detrimental effects on the environment. To this effect, we encourage countries to work towards localization, internal development, and move away from growth.
The creation of a new Sustainable Development Council, with a progressive mandate that fully integrates all stakeholders in the decision-making process, would provide support for members to effectively communicate, negotiate, and implement their policies, and would provide a platform through which there could be an exchange of relevant information, including implementation assessment, creating a stronger and more coherent process.
Water is a necessity for human life and is needed for basic well-being and dignity: Countries must guarantee access to responsible quantities of clean and safe water, and should also cooperate more closely in order to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to water-related crises. The right to water should also be extended to Earth’s organisms and ecosystems; the protection and allocation of safe and clean water resources to natural processes and habitats is indispensable for avoiding the endangerment of essential hydrological cycles.
Cities have become our main habitat, and there can be no sustainable world without sustainable cities. Unsustainable urban expansion and the increase in mega-cities aggravate problems of poverty, waste, and pollution. For this reason, intermediate city development and a retrofit of existing cities should be encouraged. In order to address international issues arising from city-level problems, States’ policies should support and facilitate the evolution of sustainable cities from both a national and local level and allow the development of self-sufficiency in city management.
Earth has a carrying capacity: There are scientific indicators of optimum and maximum sustainable yields that define the limits on how much humans can produce and consume. In order to adequately discourage over-consumption, shift to cleaner production patterns and fulfill basic human needs–especially in the areas of food, water, and energy–sustainable patterns of production and consumption must be adopted in accordance with the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities.
Food is a fundamental human right that must be acknowledged by all states. Food security is a tool that is closely intertwined with sustainable development, and, with a shift towards localized production and consumption, can strengthen, revitalize, and empower local communities, and reduce international food dependency. Food sovereignty is also vital to sustainable development and is the fundamental right of communities to have control over and/or access to, inter alia, arable land, agricultural and marine resources, seeds, the methods of food production, and nutritional food.
Read the full text of The Future We Really Want