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The main topics of the UN Conference on Sustainability in Rio de Janeiro from 20 to 22 June 2012 are the contribution of a green economy to sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and the improvement of the institutions that deal with sustainable development at international level.
The final round of negotiations at preparatory committee level took place from 13 to 15 June in Rio. The Swiss delegation, which is led by Ambassador Franz Perrez, Head of the International Affairs Division at the FOEN, supported, in particular, the balanced consideration of all aspects of sustainability, the clear commitment of the international community to a green economy that would contribute to sustainable development and poverty eradication, the more efficient organisation and strengthening of the UN institutions responsible for sustainability and the environment, and the definition of global sustainable development goals. It also supported the adoption of clear objectives and measures, specifically in the areas of consumption and production behaviour, chemicals and waste management, agriculture, protection against natural hazards, health, mountains, and the eradication of poverty.
The final round of negotiations had to be concluded shortly before midnight on Friday without agreement being reached on a concluding document. Many and, in some cases, significant differences still exist in most areas. Agreement could not yet be achieved on all of the substantive, core elements of a green economy due to the opposition of the group of developing countries. However, it was possible to clarify the relationship between sustainable development and the green economy in that the latter should contribute to the attainment of the former. The USA is blocking the decision to adopt a ten-year programme for sustainable consumption and production behaviour. With regard to the strengthening of the UN institutions responsible for sustainability and the environment, several suggestions are still on the table, including Switzerland's proposal for the creation of a Council for Sustainable Development. Concrete and effective measures on the more efficient organisation and strengthening of the international environmental regime are rejected, in particular by individual major developing countries and the USA and Canada. However, a solution is emerging in relation to the proposal for the formulation of sustainable development goals.
The negotiations will now be continued on a more informal basis under the leadership of Brazil. Four additional days are available for these negotiations until the arrival of the heads of state and government and ministers at the conference. Ambassador Franz Perrez assumes, however, that negotiations on the final document will have to continue during the conference. "We can achieve a good outcome on individual points, at least, by the end of the conference on 22 June," he says. "A resolution on the formulation of global goals for sustainable development, in particular, would constitute a major success." Such goals would underscore the commitment of the international community and provide direction to the community of states in the attainment of sustainable development.
Switzerland represented in Rio at the highest level
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, President of the Swiss Confederation, will participate in the opening of the conference on 20 June 2012, deliver a speech at the plenary meeting and participate at presidential level until 21 June. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will participate in the negotiations on 21 and 22 June.