RIO+20: Battles won and lost

Technology transfer: To set out on an alternative energy path, developing countries called for the transfer of technologies from the developed world to them. This was a long and hard-fought battle, with rich countries resisting the inclusion of the word “transfer”, and any reference to money for doing so. Both these aspects feature in the final text.

Common but differentiated responsibilities: The reference to this term, which essentially acknowledges the divide between the developed and the developing world, remains in the text.

Right to food: Despite resistance from some developing countries, this right made it into the final text. It implies an obligation by countries to enforce the right to food by way of law. The text also calls for the phasing-out of agricultural subsidies.

Commission on Sustainable Development: The toothless commission will be elevated to a high-level body charged with monitoring and enforcing sustainable development goals (SDGs) and will report to the UN General Assembly.

SDGs: The contentious issue of when and how to initiate the SDGs without disrupting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) process was resolved. The document suggests the SDGs should complement and strengthen MDGs in the development agenda for the post-2015 period, with a view to establishing a set of goals in 2015 that are part of the post-2015 UN Development Agenda.

It suggests the new SDGs should cover sustainable consumption and production patterns, as well as priority areas such as oceans; food security and sustainable agriculture; sustainable energy for all; water access and efficiency; sustainable cities; green jobs, decent work and social inclusion; and disaster risk reduction and resilience.

Right to water and sanitation.

Official Development Assistance: The draft urges developed countries to make additional concrete efforts towards the target of allocating 0.7 percent of their gross national product (GNP) to development aid, which was part of the original Rio action plan in 1992. This inclusion was resisted by some developed countries.

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