Is there a hope after Rio+20?

by Nikos Kosmidis

The panel discussion „What hope after Rio+20? Contribution of various stakeholders to a sustainable future” took place on the 17th of October 2012 at Maison du Protestantisme in Brussels and was organised in the framework of EYCE Campaign to Promote Ecological Justice, which aims at promoting ecological justice and sustainable ways of life.

The aim of the panel discussion was to bring together various stakeholders to discuss the outcomes of United Nations Conference of Sustainable Development, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, also known as Rio+20. Many actors, especially representatives of the civil society, have considered the outcomes of the conference disappointing. Moreover, it has been criticised by many, for both its inefficiency and lack of concrete measures to be taken and tangible results. With the panel discussion EYCE sought to understand, what are the concrete actions and measures that can be taken up by various groups in society to secure the results in sustainable development, which world leaders failed to achieve.

The panel discussion brought together 3 guest speakers to contribute to its content: Rev. Peter Pavlovic, representing Church and Society Commission of Conference of European Churches (CEC), as well as the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN), Mr. Lloyd Russel-Moyle from European Youth Forum (YFJ) and Mr. Rob van der Meer, representing Heidelberg Cement on the side of industry.

Mr. Russel-Moyle, representing European Youth Forum, pointed out that the outcomes of the Rio+20 conference cannot be regarded as entirely negative and explained the “hooks” where the outcomes of the conference can be turned into the positive results. He pointed out that the conference has managed to discuss moving beyond measuring wealth entirely by GDP and looked onto alternative ways to measure wealth. Mr. Russel-Moyle highlighted the importance of necessity to move beyond the current economic system and emphasize more the role of civil society, which might lead to change the patterns of people’s thinking.

Rev. Peter Pavlovic, representing Church and Society Commission of CEC, mainly drew up the general difficulties in making new substantial international agreements dues to many-folded nature of international relations today. He pointed out the fact that the Rio+20 report has been agreed beforehand, which made the negotiations pointless and vague. Most importantly he highlighted the ethical and spiritual aspect of sustainable development, growth and negotiations between different actors involved in the negotiations. He underlined the need of cooperation between the governments and civil society, churches included to ensure fruitful sectoral approach and reach out to wider target group.

Mr. van der Meer, representative of Heidelberg Cement revealed an attractive and practical approach to the sustainable development issues from the side of industries. He explained the measures of sustainability already being taken by a number of world’s industries, based on voluntarily, non-binding agreements. He elaborated on failures of multilateral and unilateral approaches, highlighting the need to look into the sectoral approach in order to secure more sustainable approach to industries. Similarly to the other speakers he draw upon the current economical model and the mindset of wealth and unlimited growth, which created great obstacles for sustainable development.

In the course of the panel discussion an interesting debate between the panellists developed, as well as contributions from the audience to the discussion were received.

Following up the questions raised during the panel discussion, EYCE will continue the work promoting ecological justice with its member and partner organisations, especially focusing on taking into account the points raised during the discussion during the final year of the campaign , which will have the special focus on sustainability.

EYCE would like to use the opportunity and once again thank all the speakers and guest present at the panel discussion!

For more information on the campaign contact the Campaign Coordination Team on