What Can Rio+20 Do For The Arab World?

rio brazil sculptureWe speak to Mohamed Abdel Raouf, a green researcher who will be attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) about what it could do for the Arab world

According to the latest reporting, the preparatory talks ahead of the Rio+20 summit have been inconclusive and raised real concerns that the conference will be a complete failure. Many delegates are frustrated at the lack of progress made around the global plan of action, entitled The Future We Want, which they hope world leaders will sign up to in Brazil in June. But Mohamed Abdel Raouf, remains hopeful that some progress will be made and also wants to encourage the Arab world to take a stronger position in favour of a Green Economy.

An independent environmental researcher, Abdel Raouf insists that “even if there is just tiny progress at Rio+20, it will be better than nothing” and it’s only through small steps that big progress can be achieved. The Rio+20 summit will be a follow-up to the landmark 1992 Earth summit in Brazil, at which international treaties to tackle climate change and conserve the Earth’s diversity of plants, animals, and other life forms were agreed.

Abdel RaoufI ask Abdel Raouf whether Arab countries are working to support the conference and its aims to encourage sustainable development. “Well, regarding RIO+20 I guess the Arab position in general is not in favour of a green economy and international environmental governance… However, I believe they must push and adopt a green economy as it is a new way to get new environmentally determinedly technology. This transfer of technology alone is a great benefit.”

And it’s not just Arab apathy world that is to blame for slow progress. Countries the world over seem keen to stick to business-as-usual. A group of NGOs and environmental organisation such as Oxfam and Greenpeace have already voiced their concern, adding that this business-as-usual approach won’t do at Rio+20. “To the presidents and prime ministers of nations responsible for changing course we say: ‘You can start to deliver sustainable development today or face the anger and disappointment of millions of citizens in the years and generations to come,’” said Rubens Born of the Forum of Brazilian NGOs and Social Movements for Environment and Development (FBOMS).

The joint statement also argued that “the current financial crises, growing inequalities, broken food system, global climate change and shrinking natural resources require a new approach to economic development but the current negotiating text offers just more of the same.”

In fact, Abdel Raouf echoes this very sentiment by stating that the root causes of the Arab Spring are environmental problems in the region as well as the unfair distribution of natural resources. “RIO+20 can be an opportunity to to tackle such environmental problems in a very structured way by changing the way the whole economy operates,” he remarked.

Image of Rio, Brazil from Mark Schwettman/Shutterstock

For more on climate summits and the Middle East North Africa region see:
Faith Leaders Prepare For Upcoming Climate Summit In South Africa
Green Buildings and the Next Climate Summit in Qatar
Guide to Durban Climate Talks and the Oil-Rich Middle East
Saudi Arabia’s Climate U-Turn Ahead of Qatar Summit

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One thought on “What Can Rio+20 Do For The Arab World?”

  1. If any success is to happen, signs of it would have already appeard, as these grand meetings are preceeded by earlier agreements which usually leak out. It seems that this meeting is an extension of Copenhagen adaptation lyric, unfortunately!
    I disagree that we will be satisfied with whatever comes out from Rio+20, I believe a huge anti-Rio sentiment will spread around the world and the Arab Spring will overwhelm many economies and policies if nothing is done, starting from the USA and China!

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