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Rio+20 Summit commits to sustainability as the only possible development model to save the planet

News 27 June, 2012

* Author: Agustín Delgado *

It may not have achieved a great deal, but the UN Summit for Sustainable Development has closed positively. After intense negotiations, several months of preparation and three days of debate, it was determined that 193 countries accept principles and common considerations to promote sustainable development. The current economic crisis in a complex world, where even the EU has difficulty in plotting a common path, the fact that sustainable development policies offer the opportunity to combine interests and make way for progress, is a reason to hope.

In the 49 pages of the Rio+20 agreement, all matters that can and should be of concern to humanity in the present and future are addressed. In the text, three dimensions of sustainable development are firmly established, namely: social, environmental and economic. In topics raised there are common interests and considerations, although some of them are weak and they can be branded as insufficient to go beyond what we had until now. But we must not forget that the agreements that come from the Rio 92 Summit and other international conferences, collected many proposals for development that still have not been implemented worldwide, although their implementation would solve many problems.

The reality is that we live on a planet with more than 1,300 million people living in poverty and without access to energy. In this we all agree, that the big challenge is none other than to deal with these problems and seek implementation and finance in order to make a difference.

Rio+20 ratified the climate change problem. The agreement signed by the countries recognizes that this is an issue that “affects all countries” and has become a common challenge of our times, recognizing the “deep concern over the global increase of greenhouse gas emissions”. However, not until the appointment of COP18 (Conference of Parties) to be held later this year in Doha (Qatar) will we be able to see a more concrete progress.

The text adopted in Rio de Janeiro also highlighted the important role energy plays in the development process. Eradicating poverty is more likely to be ensured through access to sustainable modern energy services that at the same time brings progress in saving lives, improving health and meeting basic human needs.

Among the commitments of Rio+20 agreement is the effort that governments should make to facilitate public and private sector investment in “relevant and necessary clean energy technologies”, which the Summit signatories identified as a matter of priority. In this sense, a clear path is established which includes efficiency, energy mix diversification and promotion of research and development in all countries. Ban Ki-moon, UN General Secretary, recalled that the ¨Energy for All¨ initiative (E4ALL), will play a key role in setting priorities.

Without a doubt there are still some steps to be taken, as at the Rio 1992 Summit, but I think Rio+20 focuses on global issues like climate change and sustainable development’s triple dimension, reinforces commitments and sets goals. At the same time, it recognizes the initiatives taken by private sector companies, such as Iberdrola, that by incorporating sustainability in their strategy, help advance global goals and provide guidance for other companies willing to make a commitment in order to achieve goals beyond the Rio+20 document itself.

Author: Agustín Delgado
Bio: Since 2006, I have been Iberdrola’s Director of Innovation, Environment and Quality. I hold an Industrial Engineering Degree from the Universidad of Comillas (ICAI) and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from UNED. I have developed R&D management processes, systems coordination as well as environmental and quality initiatives within the Iberdrola Group. I am also responsible for Iberdrola´s Corporate Venture Capital Programme for technology-based companies (Perseo).

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