TWENTY YEARS AFTER AGENDA 21 AND NOTHING TO CELEBRATE
Director of UNEP says that countries failed to implement the document
WASHINGTON, U.S. April 25, 2012.- Twenty years after its creation, the diagnosis of Agenda 21 is of failure in practice. The document has emerged as one of the most important of Rio92 and would be a tool in giving direction to governments in pursuit of sustainable development. But it stayed in the world of ideas.
This is one of the main criticisms of experts invited to make a balance of this period, confirmed by the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, who was in Brazil last week. In addition to the global Agenda 21, countries and cities all over the world made their own documents – only Brazil has 1,300 local Agenda 21 – but not much came out of the paper, and the places where the population has appropriated them are exceptions. Rio+20 is, for Steiner himself, the chance to give gas to the tool. Well, if leaders define strategies to put it into practice.
“The implementation of Agenda 21 failed. The challenge of the Rio+20 will be to discover how to implement it. We cannot make the mistake of leaving this document aside and create something new, we must discuss the errors. There are thousands of local documents created, but in practice few went forward.”
According to Steiner, the Agenda 21 led to important changes in some places, but they were accompanied by even greater challenges, as in the last twenty years, production and consumption in the world have grown exponentially and the impact in humanity has only increased. Emissions increased, biodiversity decreased, there are more and more people going hungry. For the global head of UNEP, during the Rio+20 leaders need to ask again fundamental questions about the priorities of global investments to consider a new economic model and the implementation of the agendas:
“Investments in renewable energy sources are around US$ 60 billion. But the fossil fuel resources are of US$ 600 billion. That is, we are not changing the matrix. The same happens to agriculture in many countries. Brazil has advanced in many aspects, but continues to invest in monoculture, eroding fertile soils.”
The document, written by hundreds of hands during the Rio92, gave the direction for sustainable development in various fields, pointing to global needs, such as international cooperation between developed and developing countries, combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, promoting conditions for human health, combating deforestation, funding mechanisms, gender equity, among others. And the proposal was that countries and cities make their own documents as well, since priorities are different.
However, as most of the planet, in Brazil examples are also punctual. Few people know what is Agenda 21 and the locals where civil society approached it are exceptions.
According to the Municipal Information Research (Munic, its acronym in Portuguese) from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, its acronym in Portuguese), there are 1,300 local Agenda 21, in a total of 5,565 municipalities in the country.
The challenge, as explained by environmentalist and former congressman Fabio Feldman earlier this month, in the Seminary Dialogues for Sustainable Development Practice, promoted by Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ, its acronym in Portuguese), is to look at global issues and use the Agenda 21 to solve them locally:
“Agenda 21 is easier to say than practice. But the instrument was one of the gains of civil society in Rio92. It started to have a voice.”