New Initiative to Track Rio+20 Preparations Country by Country
The good news is that the United Nations has just announced that 115 heads of state have already committed to attend the Rio+20 Earth Summit– roughly the same number that attended the first Earth Summit twenty years ago. The not-so-good news is that the UN has not revealed any of the specific names, nor is there much information readily available on what various governments are actually doing to prepare for Rio+20.
To address this information gap, an evolving civil society partnership is launching Earth Summit Watch. This will be a web-based platform to track the status of Rio+20 preparations in every country. We have already begun to gather information from governments on a handful of key questions (“Will your head of state attend?” or “What new or scaled-up initiatives is your country preparing for the summit?”).
If the Summit is truly going to put the world on a path toward a more sustainable future, world leaders are going to have to do more than just show up in Rio de Janeiro on June 20th. Their governments need to be working with stakeholders and reaching out to the public so that presidents and prime ministers come to Rio+20 willing and able to take action.
It appears that in many countries, governments still need to do much more to get ready for Rio+20. The public by and large is not aware or engaged in the process either. We see Earth Summit Watch as a vehicle for supporting the efforts of civil society groups in various countries to engage with their own governments and ensure that their societies are well-represented and ready to make a real contribution in Rio. To encourage advocacy from civil society, the website will showcase the preparations and initiatives made by exemplary countries and will highlight the shortcomings of those countries that have not yet begun preparations for the Summit. The Watch also complements a number of existing online petitions to encourage as many top leaders as possible to attend.
Please let us know if your civil society group is interested in joining the Stakeholder Forum, Road to Rio+20, and the Natural Resources Defense Council as a partner in further shaping and undertaking Earth Summit Watch. We are also seeking “Cooperating NGOs”, organizations which want to gather and contribute information on what their own country is doing to prepare for Rio. Please visit our website to obtain a copy of our survey, review the information we have already received, and submit updates. There is not much time left to generate the political will in nations around the world to ensure that the Rio+20 Earth Summit will be a success. We must ACT NOW to ensure that what we accomplish at Rio is truly transformative and historic, building a more sustainable future for generations to come.