The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, was held in Rio de Janeiro from 20-22 June 2012. It was the biggest meeting on the international calendar in 2012 and attracted high level participation.
Rio+20 comes 20 years after the landmark 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Rio Earth Summit. More than 100 heads of state attended the Rio Earth Summit, which adopted a wide-ranging blueprint for action to achieve sustainable development. This included the Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Rio Declaration and the Agenda 21 sustainable development plan.
Rio+20 focused on:
New Zealand sought an action-orientated outcome at Rio+20, taking a leadership role on two key areas within the green economy:
New Zealand’s emphasis on the blue economy includes sustainable fisheries, protection of the marine environment and the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies. It reflects the importance of oceans to New Zealand and our neighbouring countries in the Pacific. A key concern is that harmful fisheries subsidies contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
At the September 2011 Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Auckland, leaders called for blue economy issues to figure prominently at Rio+20. They urged the international community to tackle threats to marine ecosystems and work towards integrated oceans management and a global network of marine protected areas. Read more about the blue economy.
In 2010 worldwide fossil fuel subsidies exceeded US$400 billion (International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2011 report). Subsidies for fossil fuels encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change. The same IEA report also estimated only 8 percent of these subsidies reached the poorest 20 percent of the population. Some countries spend more on fossil fuel subsidies than they do on health or education. Reducing fossil fuel subsidies would offer significant climate and environmental benefits as well as freeing up money that could be directed at social and environmental protection and investments.
New Zealand urged Rio+20 to join other international efforts for a commitment to the early phase out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while mitigating adverse impacts on vulnerable groups.
New Zealand is a member of the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform group, which works to highlight the potential climate, economic, trade and energy security benefits of fossil fuel subsidy reform. Read more about the Friends.
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