New Delhi: Brazil's picturesque port city of Rio de Janeiro will be the focus of attention for three days as the Earth Summit 2012 kicks off Wednesday. It will examine how committed world leaders are to defining a sustainable development pathway to enable people around the world maintain a decent standard of living while preserving ecosystems and natural resources.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development from June 20 to 22 is also referred to as 'Rio+20' because it takes place in 2012, 20 years after the original Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. The summit, for the first time, brought environment and development issues firmly into the public arena.
At the conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how poverty can be reduced, social equity advanced and environmental protection ensured in an ever more crowded planet.
US President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several other heads of state will take part in the deliberations.
The countries will pitch to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development, to assess progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development and to address new and emerging challenges.
The focus will be on two specific themes - green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.
The summit, like the climate change conferences, is expected to see division among the rich and poor countries.
India is of the view that a green economy as a concept will succeed only if it enhances the ability to address poverty eradication, provides adequate policy space for national circumstances and priorities and ensures that structural changes that result do not lead to green protectionism and conditionalities.
Speaking about India's stand at Rio, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said: "The Rio outcome will have to be voluntary, non-binding and aspirational ... no insistence. There should be no compromise on equity and common but differentiated responsibility and these two principles should be the core of any outcome."
Equity ensures that developing countries grow adequately to provide basic amenities to their people. Common but differentiated responsibilities means all countries cutting down carbon emissions according to the greenhouse gases put in atmosphere by them.
India's former key negotiator Prodipto Ghosh cautions that developed countries would want to be treated at par with developing countries while setting goals and targets towards a greener economy at Rio.
"What we are expected to see at the Rio+20 is developed blocks like the European Union (EU) and countries like the US trying to reverse the global political impact since 1992 from sustainable development to climate change, as they don't want the difference between developed and developing countries to prevail," Ghosh told IANS.
He says developing countries should try to maintain the nature of impact of the 1992 Rio conference.
"Negotiators should seek more commitment from developed countries for finance and technology transfer. India, China and other developing countries should take care that developed countries do not erode our development on the name of emissions," he said.
Talking about the other theme of an institutional framework for sustainable development, Natarajan said: "The talks are about coming out with sustainable development goals (SDGs) on the lines of millennium development goals (MDGs). SDGs should not be binding upon developing countries and should be voluntary and aspirational and supported by means of implementation."
About the likely outcome at Rio, Ghosh said countries may start a process to discuss SDGs but warned that developing countries should accept such goals only after rich countries commit to providing money and technology to poor countries to traverse the path of sustainable development.