Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Government cautiously optimistic about Rio+20

Though negotiations are proving difficult, the government is cautiously optimistic about the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Delegation leader Ben Knapen, Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, presented the aims of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Rio aan de Maas event in Rotterdam today.

Though negotiations are proving difficult, the government is cautiously optimistic about the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Delegation leader Ben Knapen, Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, presented the aims of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the Rio aan de Maas event in Rotterdam today.

Mr Knapen believes that environment and climate experts should not dominate the debate on sustainable development. ‘It’s not a question of choosing between economic development and the environment. Both are crucial.’

Two main themes will play a leading role in Rio: greening the economy and strengthening the UN sustainable development organisations. Within the EU, the Kingdom is campaigning for a green economy agenda, with the business community as an essential partner. The interests of poverty reduction need to be taken on board. In light of the need for sustainable consumption and production, the Rio delegation is focusing on water, food security, agriculture, waste, transport and urban development.

Toothless

The Kingdom delegation wishes to strengthen the UN in two ways. First, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) should be reformed and strengthened, and a Council for Sustainable Development, with executive tasks, should be set up to replace the current, toothless Commission. Second, a High UN Representative should be appointed for sustainable development.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is in favour of setting sustainable development goals, but would like to see them included in the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals project. The Netherlands is not planning to pledge any more funds. ‘Existing funds can be used more effectively, and we want to look for new, innovative forms of funding,’ said Mr Knapen.

Lack of ambition

Rio+20 will build not only on the first UN Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and Agenda 21, but also on the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002. It will chart and evaluate progress made in the past 20 years, propose improvements and discuss emerging trends.

Negotiations on the outcome document are proving difficult. The draft text is still too long, and lacks ambition. Mr Knapen expects the negotiations to continue to the very last moment.