ENGOV and Rio +20
Interview with Fabio de Castro, scientific coordinator of the ENGOV project:
Fabio, can you tell us shortly what the Rio +20 Conference is about?
“Rio +20 is a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and a follow-up from the Rio ‘92 and Johannesburg 2002. The heads of state, or their representatives, will meet to discuss advances, new challenges and define measures to strengthen national commitments to sustainable practices and their implementation. Rio +20 will focus on two key points: first, how to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty; second, how to improve institutional structure and international coordination for sustainable development.”
Why is it important for ENGOV to be close to the Rio +20 conference?
“Rio +20 is about environmental governance which is the core theme of ENGOV. Rio +20 has a global scale, but its implications for Latin America and the Caribbean are evident. The region is a major source of several natural resources and environmental services, and socio-environmental dilemmas have emerged from the increased importance of commodities in the national economies. At the same time, recent political changes in the region have opened up spaces for manifestation of environmental citizenship among the organized society, to propose alternative solutions for environmental challenges. Left-oriented national governments, on the other hand, have often been ambiguous in their social, economic and environmental policies. In this complex picture, Latin America and the Caribbean is at the crossroads between two models of sustainable development – one grounded on green economy and institutional strengthening proposed by Rio +20, which emphasizes the commoditization of nature and the role of governments and private actors in sustainable practices; another grounded on moral economy and environmental justice, supported by minority groups emphasizing non-material value of nature, structure of inequality and distributional problems. ENGOV research looks critically on how relevant actors interact at multiple scales in order to tackle social and environmental dilemmas. And several emergent initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean influence and are influenced by global decision-making platforms such as Rio +20.”
And what will the ENGOV project do with the outcomes of Rio +20?
“Rio +20 represents a milestone in the development of global environmental governance. The outcomes of the event will be relevant for academic and practical purposes. Decisions towards green economy and institutional strengthening may have deep implications on how environmental governance will develop further in Latin America and the Caribbean. In particular, the green economy agenda which promises the harmonization of conflicting demands of commodities and environmental services through market mechanisms and technological development may affect the reconfiguration of new initiatives in the region. In addition to academic relevance, knowledge dissemination is a strong component of ENGOV and we plan to communicate regional implications of outcomes from Rio +20 to non-academic audience in Latin America and in Europe.”