Published on Voices

Upping the Level of Ambition in Rio

This page in:

Rio+20 Art. UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco
Art at the Rio+20 Pavillion reminds those passing by: "The future begins with the decisions we make in the present." UN Photo/Maria Elisa Franco


While negotiators were getting their teeth stuck into the newly circulated text at Rio Centro, I meeting-hopped today around the city to meet with legislators, NGOs, and the private sector.

There may not be the buzz of `92 – yet. But, the sense of urgency, action, and recognition of the need to up the level of ambition at Rio was evident among these critical groups.

In the magnificent Tiradentes Palace, over 300 parliamentarians from more than 70 countries gathered for the first ever World Summit of Legislators organised by GLOBE International. They were there to agree a new mechanism for scrutinizing and monitoring governments on delivery of the Rio agreements (past and present). Also a new Natural Capital Action Plan.

With momentum growing for the 50:50 Campaign to get 50 governments and 50 private sector leaders to stand-up and announce their commitment to start implementing natural capital accounting, I challenged them to put pressure on the delegations across town. GLOBE International’s president, Lord Deben, got the message. This is a direct opportunity to pressure your ministers now and get them to sign up, he said.

Legislators can help keep the level of ambition at Rio +20 high. They also have a fundamental role to ensure the means of implementation exist.

Next stop, the IIED Fair Ideas conference at the Catholic University. There was no shortage of voices to up the ambition anti at this important gathering of CSOs from around the world.

We know what we need to do, I told the closing plenary, sitting alongside NGO leaders and students.

With the private sector at the end of the day, gathered for the Business for the Environment Rio+20 dialogue, I sat on the final panel, aptly titled Delivering Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future.

For me and for all of us in the World Bank Group delegation, it's about delivery at scale. So, with 50 countries committing to natural capital accounting, we get closer to the right level of ambition. For the private sector dependent on natural resources for their bottom line – and future health of their balance sheets – it's natural too. One place to start is taking the partnership spirit back home, where the private sector's resources and capacity can be aligned in support of government to get natural accounts right.

The second big idea is the match between what we know about the safety nets that work best and using them to provide support and incentives to meet the energy access gap – aligning the inclusive and the green.

There is so much happening around the world to move us to inclusive green growth that could be moved to scale at speed.  Yet in the main conference center, the process forces a focus on what remains undone, overpromised, uncommitted.

Unfortunately, the level of ambition is incorrectly set. Collectively, we need to press the reset button.


Rachel Kyte
Vice President for Sustainable Development
Twitter: @rkyte365


Rachel Kyte

Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000