Global, Latin America & the Caribbean, Multimedia, Reframing Rio, Video

After Rio+ 20, the Path Ahead

Jul 6 2012 (IPS) - Two weeks after the United Nations conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro has left many lukewarm, activists, government representatives and U.N. officials are looking forward to setting new goals for the future.

“I think the world needs much more than what we achieved,” Heikki Holmas, Norwegian minister of international development, admitted at a press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday.

Still, the focus of the discussion was less on casting blame than on how to move on and set new sustainable development goals for the future.

“There have been many creative solutions put forward,” said Joanna Kerr, CEO of the anti-poverty group Action Aid.

According to Kerr, addressing the issues of how to best use tax revenues and limiting investment in “false solutions” are key to establishing a sustainable future.

“For many years, many governments have been trying to put forward a financial tax that could levy a very small amount on financial transactions, but it could actually leverage billions and billions of euros and dollars for climate change and development. And that is key, to make sure that if we raise new taxes, that we spend them progressively,” she said.

Lakshmi Puri, deputy director of UN Women, said she hoped that Rio+20 will prove to have “unlocked the potential of women as drivers of sustainable development.”

According to Puri, gender equality should be treated as an economic, social and environmental issue, rather than just a “side alley”.

All three panellists pointed out that there are lessons to be learned from Rio, and that future conferences can build upon its outcomes.

“Now we have the high-level forum… and we need to look at how to make sure the high-level development forum is strong and able to push the development goals,” Holmas said.

“Talk is cheap,” Kerr added. “But failure to address sustainable development is even more expensive.”

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