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Brazil says final document reflects the ambition of all

06/21/2012 - 13h22

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DENISE LUNA
DENISE MENCHEN
FROM RIO
FERNANDO RODRIGUES
SPECIAL CORREPONDENT IN RIO

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and various members of her government came out yesterday in defense of the final document of Rio+20. "The approved text affirms some important advances," said the president, in her speech on the first day of the summit of heads of state at Rio+20 yesterday at the Riocentro convention center. She then referenced several concepts that were introduced in the declaration, like the eradication of poverty and racial inequality.

But the president herself made an exception, when she acknowledged that "the financial crisis and the uncertainty that hangs over the future of the global economy," created an environment in which "an openness to binding agreements is much more fragile."

In other words, the document has good intentions, but few compulsory commitments from countries to implement measures designed to encourage sustainable development.

Dilma made these declarations during her speech to the gathering of leaders and representatives of the 193 countries of the U.N. She began addressing the group at 4:34 p.m. and spoke for 20 minutes. Three former Brazilian presidents were in the audience: Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Fernando Collor de Mello.

Half of the speech was to highlight the accomplishments of the administration of her predecessor, Lula. She mentioned the 40 million people who moved into the middle class, a reduction in the deforestation of the Amazon and of the creation of 18 million jobs.

Listing these accomplishments, Dilma suggested that Brazil is proof that is it possible to "grow, include and protect"-three words that, according to her, translate into sustainable development.

The ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, the executive secretary of the National Commission for Rio+20, responded to criticism that the agreement was not bold enough.

"You cannot expect ambitious action is there is no financial ambition. Those who expect ambitioun and don't put money on the table are being inconsistent at the very least, " he said.

"COMMON DENOMINATOR'

The question of financial support was one of the most divisive issues of Rio+20. The proposal from emerging economies to create an annual fund of US$30 billion was rejected by wealthy countries.

The Brazilian minister of Foreign Relations, Antonio Patriota, admitted that it was difficult to arrive at a consensus, but he attributed this to a significant number of distinct interests. "If you got together 190 NGOs from different countries, the NGOs would have trouble finding a common denominator."

Ministers Izabella Teixeira (Environment) and Aloizio Mercadante (Education) highlighted the points that they consider to be the most relevant, such as the agreements to include environmental criteria in the evaluation of economic performance, the committee that will define the Sustainable Development Goals, and the new treaty on the oceans.

Translated by ANNA EDGERTON

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