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The article highlights the insufficiency of aspirational goals for Rio+20, such as the objective of securing renewed political commitment for sustainable development.

It stresses that more concrete outcomes are needed and calls for a focus on what Rio+20 can achieve in areas such as energy, water and food.

4 April 2012: In a blog article titled “Making Rio+20 A Success,” Morgan Bazilian, Alan Miller and Daniel M. Kammen, writing in their personal capacities, underscore that, for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) to be considered a success, there is a need to focus on practical, if modest, measures that can be achieved at the Conference and that can be verified and measured.

The article, which was published in the National Geographic journal, highlights the weakness of the stated objectives of Rio+20, which are “… to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation… and address new and emerging challenges.” It states that these objectives, together with the “political rhetoric and calls to action” that have been emerging ahead of Rio+20, are largely lacking in substance, with some exceptions, such as the proposal by the Governments of Columbia and Guatemala for agreement on a set of sustainable development goals.

Highlighting the insufficiency of aspirational goals, the piece asserts that more is needed to produce concrete outcomes from Rio+20. It gives the examples of the texts on energy access and on the institutional framework for sustainable development in the “zero draft” of the Rio+20 outcome document, stating that although the provisions in these texts are not particularly ambitious, they are attainable outcomes of Rio+20. The article concludes by calling for a different, more inclusive, approach, that “lowers the hype, brings in humility, recognizes the constraints of governments, builds partnerships outside of the negotiated text,” and focuses on what can be achieved, such as in the areas of energy, water and food. [Publication: Making Rio+20 A Success]

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