(Closing ceremony of Rio+20 summit. Left to right, UN general assembly president Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser, UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s secretary of the conference, Luis Figueiredo Machado, and Rio+20 secretary-general Sha Zukang. Photograph: Andre Penner/AP)
The Rio+20 Conference (June 20 -22, 2012) on Sustainable Development produced a 53 page Outcome of the Conference Document entitled the ‘Future We Want.’ How does this document challenge Good Shepherd’s justice peace mission and ministries? We are looking forward to hearing from Our Team in Rio – Marta, Doris, (Peru) Maria,(Brazil) Fernanda (Brazil) and Erika (Mexico) as to their experience. The Secretary General of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki Moon hailed it a success. “Let me be clear. Rio+20 was a success,” he said at a General Assembly meeting on the outcome of the Conference. “In Rio, we saw the further evolution of an undeniable global movement for change.” 20 years previously the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, during which countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The blue print has not materialized in the past 20 years – there has been a great reluctance to rethink economic growth, inequalities have grown and the environment is still under threat. Will the outcome document ‘The Future We Want’ bring any difference? On Monday and Tuesday July 2 and 3 during the ECOSOC meetings I noted a spirit of optimism. Already a team has reported to the Secretary General on ‘Realizing the Future We Want for All’ presenting a joint vision of 60 UN Agencies on how to start the process and move forward. Included among the Agencies are: Department of Economic and Social Afairs (DESA), the Regional Commission, International Labour Organization, International Organization for Migrants, UNICEF, UN Women and UNODC. These are the various UN Agencies that we connect with to address the priority areas of concern for Good Shepherd as outlined in the direction statement of 2009 ‘ women who are trafficked, forced to migrate and oppressed by abject poverty.’ There appears to be a clear focus on human development with sustaibability at the center. The interconnectedness of problems and the need for a global agenda appears to be key. Concepts such as human rights, equailty, sustainablility, inclusive social development, environmental protection, inclusive economic development, peace and security are all to the fore. A common vision for the future determines policy issues. This calls for action not just at the global level but at the local level. NGO’s have a role. We have a role. The United Nations is an important global organizations to bring forward and challenge prevailing systems and structures that are threatening to the person and the environment.