India’s poverty removal pitch wins the day in Rio
Despite opposition from developed countries, the final Rio+20 declaration agreed to India’s demand of putting the goal of removing poverty above all other objectives.
After a bitter fight with the developed countries, who wanted the objective of poverty eradication be made subservient to creating a ‘green economy’, India’s demand to put the goal of removing poverty above all other objectives in the final Rio+20 declaration — called “The Future We Want” — was agreed to. The proposal found the unwavering backing of the G77 countries. The document, agreed upon on Tuesday and presented to the heads of states on Wednesday for final approval, says, “Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensible requirement for sustainable development.”
The developed countries had opposed the reference to removing poverty in a separate paragraph of the Declaration’s preamble.
The European Union (EU) had specifically pitched the Rio+20 summit as a ‘green’ summit and advocated that the heads of states should endorse a prescriptive green pill for the entire world and force a time-bound road map for the countries to shift to costlier clean modes of production.
India also led a diplomatic masterstroke for the G77 developing country block in demanding $30 billion fund for sustainable development, starting next year. The developed countries had stalled negotiations on how the world should fund the move towards sustainable development in an attempt to diminish their existing obligations to provide money and technology to the poor countries. But the radical demand, engineered by India, forced the US and EU to take a middle ground and agree to setting up an inter-governmental process of determining where funds and technologies would come from to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs), which too would be elaborated through a negotiating process over the next few years.
The G77 countries stuck to their guns in ensuring that the EU does not force a pre-determined set of themes on which SDGs are set up. EU had been keen to select more green themes — such as renewable energy targets – for the world to achieve under SDGs, but the developing world had again argued against giving primacy to green concerns over other ‘pillars of sustainable development’ like economic and social parameters. They had been concerned that once the SDGs are set for environmental parameters, the EU would dither from setting targets for other areas. A steadfast opposition by the US also for such goals ensured that the EU push was countered successfully by the end of the negotiations.