Twenty years on from the Earth Summit, world leaders are once more gathered in Rio de Janeiro, in pursuit of a future of sustainable development and global prosperity. Recognising the significance of this occasion, the Socialist International held a meeting of ministers and delegates to the conference from its member parties on the eve of the high-level segment of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development of 20-22 June 2012, to review common aims and objectives of our global organisation for Rio+20.
In 1992, on the occasion of the Earth Summit the Socialist International declared at a similar meeting in Rio de Janeiro that we envisaged a scenario 20 years on where 'the Earth is preserved and the nations and people feel closer together.' Today, we cannot say that the Earth has been preserved, and the need remains for all nations of the world to work together in the common interest of the planet. Here in Rio de Janeiro we expect to see all governments renew their political commitment to sustainable development as the only course of action that will allow long term environmental protection and economic prosperity.
In the coming days, the attention of the world will once again be focussed on the commitments that will be made in Rio de Janeiro. This conference has the power to be a force for enormous good, to demonstrate to the world that the political will exists to find common solutions to the crucial issues at stake. The citizens of our countries expect nothing less than a clear undertaking from Rio+20 that their governments will pursue sustainable development in all its dimensions – the economic, social and environmental – to which a joint and coordinated approach must be taken.
The Socialist International and its members have made sustainable development a key focus of their agenda. On these three pillars of sustainable development, our global movement has been active and engaged, promoting and implementing policies that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
With regard to economic policies, social democrats have never lost sight of the need to place poverty eradication, equitable distribution of resources, decent jobs and opportunities for the most vulnerable among the priorities in the sustainable agenda we have sought to implement. Equally, support for developing countries including efforts to overcome uneven progress, for instance in Africa, has been an integral part of our vision of a fair global economic system. In our view, sustainable growth based on responsible economic policy and fairness should be the cornerstone of the response to the current financial crisis. In this context, investment in the green economy is crucial, as it will create jobs whilst contributing to a more sustainable future for the planet.
On social issues, our member parties, wherever they are or have been in government, have made great advances on social protection for all citizens and universal access to healthcare provisions and education, as well as steps to reduce poverty in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Part of this task is also to reduce inequality and social exclusion, and open new opportunities for people to fulfil their potential in life. Gender equality and the rights of women, including reproductive rights, must be guaranteed. It is unacceptable that whilst women play a prominent role in development, they continue to be marginalised and under-represented in many countries. Respect for human rights is paramount, which also means addressing the fact that too many people in the world remain without safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Food security and efforts to free humankind from hunger remain fundamental.
In our work on environmental issues we have built a coherent message, leading calls for climate justice and a low carbon society. In this regard, we need to ensure that those most responsible for climate change also tackle its consequences, recognising that deep cuts in emissions are the only way to reverse the path towards an unsustainable global temperature increase that would cause immeasurable and irreparable damage to our planet, severely affecting a great number of nations and peoples. Among them are the most vulnerable, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). A major step towards emissions reduction urgently needed today is the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, which have nearly tripled since 2009.
The collective vision emerging from Rio+20 needs to be ambitious. The Earth cannot afford to wait another 20 years for decisive action to be taken, and the presence of heads of state and government from the majority of the countries of the world make this an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. If Rio+20 is to be a truly significant moment in the history of our planet, the arrival of all these leaders must now trigger a new approach to the negotiations, resulting in clear decisions to ensure a new global effort to place sustainable development at the centre of the global political agenda and preserve the planet for future generations.
The Socialist International calls on all those participating to make Rio+20 a milestone moment, when the world made a meaningful commitment to sustainable development within a multilateral framework. We need action to preserve our biodiversity, protecting seas, oceans and fragile ecosystems. We need support for the green economy, bringing jobs and economic prosperity without damage and destruction of our environment. We owe it to those without a voice in the poorest countries in the world, to those whose very existence is threatened by climate change and who are relying on those here in Rio de Janeiro, to speak on their behalf and do what is necessary for the future of this planet and all those who inhabit it.
For our part, we will continue to strive unflinchingly in pursuit of our policies in favour of sustainable development in the path of many within our own movement who inspired and defined the task ahead. We will do this as political parties committed to democracy, the upholding of freedoms and rights and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, all of which are inseparable from the efforts to achieve sustainable development. In this spirit, we will persevere in the multilateral efforts to reach these goals through a new internationalism and a new culture of solidarity that the time and these challenges demand.