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Rio+20: When Legislators Make Their Voices Heard

Sergio Jellinek's picture

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Rio+20 has an unexpected effect on participants.

While government representatives attend interminable sessions to reach a consensus on the final text for the Sustainable Development summit, legislators from 85 countries managed to reach an agreement in record time. They made a commitment to promote legislation in their respective countries on green and inclusive growth, in other words, growth that respects the environment and benefits everyone in society.

The so -called Rio+20 Legislators' Protocol was noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, the legislators, who are all members of GLOBE International, agreed to support new laws in key areas such as climate change, environmental responsibility and the regulation of deforestation. Secondly, despite government delays in adopting global agreements, in informal meetings such as this one, legislators have a role in establishing the basis for forming partnerships, which should be reflected in future laws.

Mexico recently had a similar success story. Backed by the GLOBE Mexico chapter, the Congress passed a set of measures on climate change and regulating deforestation, which was later adopted by President Felipe Calderón.

GLOBE's mission is to create a critical mass of legislators who can agree to and push forward a common legislative response to the major global sustainable development challenges. In Latin America, the organization has formed an informal, multiparty – an essential characteristic – network of legislators. Offices have been established in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. Other countries within the region are discussing the possibility of forming their own GLOBE branches.

This is another area where the region is taking the lead. This leadership was acknowledged by Adam Matthews, GLOBE secretary general, when he commented that "we are thrilled by the Latin American response to our invitation, and we trust that the region will continue to serve as an example in the implementation of this agenda."

In fact, Latin America was mentioned during several sessions as "part of the solution rather than of the problem" in terms of global sustainable development. So much so that it seems our region has become a major player in this area, just as it has with respect to the global economy. It has become a sort of global laboratory of innovation in sustainable development.

Innovation is apparent in many "green" actions, from the use of ethanol as a clean fuel in Brazil, to Colombia and Mexico's efficient transportation systems, and , to the payments for environmental services in Costa Rica, to quote/ give just a few examples.

Today, after decades of grasping at straws, we Latin Americans can demonstrate that progress is built gradually, day by day. Like in other fields, we still have a lot to learn, but we also have much to teach and little to envy.

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