Edited by Peter Dauvergne
Chapter 7: Do We Need More Global Sustainability Conferences?
Steinar Andresen This chapter contemplates whether another global sustainability conference such as the one planned for Rio 2012 is really needed. What can be gained from adding to the vast number of multilateral environmental conferences currently at work, especially those concerned with the global multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs)? Is this the best way to spend scarce financial and human resources and will the conference produce tangible results and give sustainable development a boost? In order to discuss these questions I review the three main global environment and development conferences, drawing on the author’s studies of the role of the UN in global environmental governance.1 These studies asked what these conferences achieved and what explains their achievements? Given the lessons of these events, what should we expect the 2012 Conference to achieve? I argue that the 2002 Johannesburg Summit had much less significance than its two predecessors in 1972 and 1992. Is this indicative of a worsening performance trend, or was the 2002 conference simply an exception to the rule? Given that the world is a different place now from what it was in 2002, how is this likely to impact the performance and outcomes of the planned conference? Global Conferences: Diminishing Significance? There have been three major global conferences on the environment and development: the UN Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE), Stockholm, 1972; the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio, 1992; and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Johannesburg, 2002. Although 30 years separate the first...
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