14 June, 2012

Rio+20: No consensus no deal

Sergio Abranches

A few sticking points are blocking the way to a satisfactory deal on Rio+20’s resolutions. Unresolved divergencies on some central points make it almost sure negotiations will not succeed before the preparatory committee meeting (prepcom) closes at the end of the day tomorrow.

Negotiations will continue informally, under the presidency of Brazil, over the weekend and very likely until the summit of heads of government starts on Wednesday, 20. Although many negotiators point to “fair progress” on “significant issues”, nothing is closed until everything is closed, says the golden rule of United Nations’ conferences.

A solution to the few deadlocking issues is key to closing a fair deal in Rio. The appraisal of negotiators today was that the crucial sticking point regards the “means of implementation”, that is finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building.

Brazilian ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo has said on his daily press briefing today that this “issue at the core of negotiations”. Without an agreement on means of implementation there will be no deal. He will chair negotiations after the closing of the prepcom meeting.

He also said there has been “excellent progress” on governance issues. An agreement is almost certain on “practical measures to strengthen UNEP’s role and the means it needs to play this stronger role”. He made clear that “there is no clear consensus on upgrading UNEP to a specialized agency”.

On the core question of finance he admitted G77/China has proposed a fund of $ 30 billion annually, that met strong opposition from developed countries. “They are understandably concerned with the financial and economic crisis, but we have to look beyond it, we cannot be hostages to this crisis”, he said.

An active chief negotiator not giving press briefings for the time being has told me that there is a group of countries working hard to find a solution to the financial issue. One that assures developed countries that their commitments should start after the crisis is over, and the money will go only to the poorer countries. Some are even talking about the possibility of trying to persuade large emerging economies like China and Brazil to be donors to the fund.

There has also been “great progress” on sustainable development goals by the working group that is discussing this specific issue, the Brazilian chief negotiator said. A negotiator who is very active on this working group has confirmed that there has been substantial progress on sustainable development goals. “If we can close a deal on means on implementation, Rio will be remembered for changing the way future development policies are made”, he commented enthusiastically.

Figueiredo said on his press briefing that delegates have identified a gap on the regulation of biodiversity on international sea waters. If a deal is closed it will contain a resolution starting a process of regulation of marine biodiversity on non-territorial waters, under the Sea Convention.

Negotiations will hardly end at the close of the preparatory committee meeting tomorrow. Delegates will continue negotiating over the weekend. As the role of the prepcom co-chairs will end at the close of the meeting, Brazil, as the host country, will chair these talks and try to find alternative solutions to issues that remain without an agreement. Figueiredo said that Brazil has no intention at all to prepare a document and bring it to the table to prevent Rio+20 from failing. “We will try to facilitate a consensus, and could make suggestions of alternatives that might help to break the deadlock on specific issues.” But the “text on which we will keep working is the one that will come from of the official negotiations tomorrow” he emphasized.