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FME 18 Sends Regional Messages to Rio+20

6 February 2012: The 18th session of the Forum of Environment Ministers (FME 18) of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) focused much of its debate, as well as parts of its Quito Declaration and various Decisions, on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). FME 18 also adopted a decision on small island developing States (SIDS) as related to the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), one of the themes of Rio+20.

FME 18 took place from 31 January-3 February 2012, in Quito, Ecuador, and was attended by top environment officials from 31 of 33 countries in the region. Participants were briefed on preparations and expected outcomes by Brazil's Environment Minister Isabella Teixeira, and they debated visions, concepts and emerging issues they wanted to see addressed at Rio+20.

Several LAC countries raised doubts or concerns about the green economy theme of Rio+20. Argentina, in its capacity as President pro tempore of the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR), urged FME 18 to consider giving regional backing to a set of conclusions on green economy adopted in November 2011 by the environment ministers of MERCOSUR and Chile. Some member countries were not ready to take that step, so it was only noted in the Declaration's preamble.

The Quito Declaration calls for Rio+20 to define a process for formulating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and suggests the FME's own work on sustainable development indicators as an input to formulating the SDGs. Based on proposals from Bolivia and Ecuador, the Declaration asks Rio+20 to discuss a universal declaration of the rights of nature "as an instrument to achieve good living."

The Declaration also calls for Rio+20 to, inter alia: agree on a renewed vision and commitment to sustainable development for poverty eradication and to promote social inclusion and equity; consider, in the context of food security and agricultural development, the excessive volatility of food prices and market speculation in basic products as an emerging issue that threatens the achievement of poverty eradication goals in developing countries; and orient efforts toward constructing a more just, equitable and inclusive new international economic order. The Declaration also recognizes the importance of implementing Rio Principle 10 on access to information, public participation and access to justice.

Regarding IFSD, a Rio+20 theme, the Declaration says the roles and mandates of UN bodies should be reviewed to make them efficient and able to act in a coherent, coordinated and cooperative manner. It calls for the environmental pillar of sustainable development to be strengthened through an institutional framework that guarantees universal membership and sufficient technical, scientific and financial capacity.

The FME 18 Decision on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) calls for Rio+20 to adopt the 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on SCP based on the final text negotiated during the 19th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 19).

The FME 18 Decision on SIDS calls for any IFSD to provide a clear institutional mechanism to address, in a concrete and focused manner, the sustainable development of SIDS and least developed countries (LDCs) at global and regional levels. [IISD RS Coverage of FME 18] [Quito Declaration]