The third UN Summit on Sustainable Development takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012, twenty years after the original meeting. Ahead of the meeting, corporate groups, powerful government and country blocks such as the EU have been promoting the concept of the green economy as a solution to the severe environmental and social problems we face. Although this might sound like a good thing, the proposals on the table are being used to legitimise a resource grab by the rich, threatening access to land, water and natural resources for the world's poor.
CEO is following the Rio talks and has been monitoring the build-up to the talks, focusing particularly on the corporate lobby groups that have become important players at these international summits.
We've also looked at the reality of the "green economy" that is being promoted and discovered beneath the promising label, the reality is a frightening agenda to privatise nature, seeking out greater profits and using markets and offsets in the name of environmental protection.
As has been seen with previous attempts to introduce markets for environmental benefit, such proposals are likely to benefit the few at the expense of the many - while failing to address the current model of consumption and production, which lies at the heart of the problem.
The BMW cars are a classic example of greenwash. Electric cars are of course greener than conventional cars, but the BMW exhibition gives a misleading positive image of the company, whose main business continues to be selling petrol-guzzling luxury cars. It is only a few years ago that BMW took the lead in the massive car industry lobby campaign that seriously weakened EU proposals for stricter CO2 standards for cars1.
The goal of the summit is to assess progress made since the Earth Summit as well as address new challenges. On the agenda will be institutional reform of governance on global environment issues, which could lead to strengthening of UNEP (the French government’s proposal for a World Environment Organisation is not going to happen). The most intense discussion in the preparatory process is around the ‘Green Economy’ agenda promoted by UNEP, a concept that could replace ‘sustainable development’ as the dominant discourse.
Corporate Europe Observatory
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.