By Thalif Deen
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 20 (Terra Viva) U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon provided a frightening scenario of the not-too-distant future to over 100 world leaders present at the opening Wednesday of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio de Janeiro.
He singled out three dangerous trends: too much political strife, grave economic troubles, and widening social inequalities.
Ban put UNCSD, also known as Rio+20, in its grim context when he noted that 20 years ago during the 1992 Earth Summit, there were five-and-a-half billion people in the world.
“Now there are more than seven billion. And by 2030, we will need 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water just to continue to live as we do today.”
Beyond a shadow of doubt, he warned “we have entered a new era ‚Ä¶ a new geological epoch, even, where human activity is fundamentally altering the Earth’s dynamics.”
Our global footprint has overstepped our planet’s boundaries, he cautioned.
On Tuesday, delegates from 191 countries approved a blueprint for sustainable development, titled “The Future We Want,” which will eventually be endorsed by world leaders on Friday.
But the question remained, how is this blueprint to be implemented without new funds and in the absence of an institutional framework?
At a press conference earlier in the day, Ban admitted he would have preferred a more ambitious action plan for the future.
“I know that some member states hoped to have a bolder and more ambitious outcome document. I also hope that we should have a more ambitious outcome document,” he admitted.
“But you should also understand that the negotiations have been very, very difficult and very slow because of all the conflicting interests and ideas.
“Some have presented (many) far-reaching and bold actions, while some countries also had their own views and interests. So you should understand that this is the outcome of such a long and very delicate process of negotiation.”
Addressing world leaders, Ban said, “Let us follow up on Rio+20 with commitment and action. Now is the time for action.
“Let us not ask our children and grandchildren to convene a Rio+40 or Rio+60. Now is the time to rise above narrow national interests ‚Äď to look beyond the vested interests of this group or that. It is time to act with broader and long-term vision. Here at Rio+20, we can seize the future we want.”