nnimmo at

Today we strongly condemn world leaders for selling out people and the planet in their Rio+20 declaration which falls way short of the action needed to tackle the planetary crisis we face, and does not include any of the real solutions demanded by the people at the alternative People’s Summit. [1]

According to Friends of the Earth International, the lack of political will from governments is rooted in the undue influence of corporations over governments and UN institutions. But pressure from civil society groups and movements and developing countries prevented world leaders from agreeing an even worse Rio+20 declaration that would have taken the world further backwards than we were twenty years ago.

“Once again corporate polluters have held UN decision-making hostage to furthering their economic interests, at the expense of peoples wellbeing and the planet. But real solutions to the crises exist and were presented by the alternative Peoples Summit. They include economic justice, climate justice, and food sovereignty,“ said Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International.

Friends of the Earth International has been a key player in the People’s Summit – an alternative space independent from the UN Summit supported by over 200 civil society groupings who have worked together over the past nine days to generate ideas for the change needed to tackle the crisis we face.

“Friends of the Earth International and our allied social movements will keep fighting the corporate capture of the UN which is stopping our governments from listening to the voices of the 99 percent of the people. These voices include not only the Peoples Summit voices here in Rio but also the voices of the Occupy and Indignados movements around the world,” said Lucia Ortiz, Economic Justice International Program Coordinator at Friends of the Earth International.

“Peoples power is the solution to the crises we are facing. The alternative People’s Summit in Rio was an example of peoples voices uniting to demand real solutions. We need to build on our strengths and organise ourselves to resist corporate power, false solutions, and reclaim our democracies and UN decision-making” said Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International coordinator of the Forest and Biodiversity Program,

Friends of the Earth International’s analsyis of key issues on the table in Rio:


The European Union block tried to impose in Rio the corporate-driven green economy agenda –which is a front for our broken and unfair economic system and for selling out nature—as the main tool for achieving sustainable development. Civil society and developing countries managed to prevent this agenda from being adopted and partially stopped its imposition in the Rio declaration, allowing, for now, individual countries to continue define their own vision of what a truly fair and sustainable economy might look like.

Unfortunately the declaration still recognizes the green economy as an important tool and does not include any recognition that developed countries, whose unsustainable consumption patterns caused the bulk of our environmental problems, should take the lead on sustainable consumption and production. The Rio+20 declaration also fails to recognise that multinational corporations are a main cause of the multiple crises the world is facing.


The Rio+20 declaration reaffirms the so-called ‘Rio Principles’ first agreed at the 1992 Earth Summit but does not go any further.

The Rio+20 declaration ignores the need of the industrialised world to repay its ecological debt through provision of new and additional public finance and through technology transfer.

The Rio+20 declaration does not tackle the need to phase out fossil fuels through a just transition to clean and affordable community-controlled energy.

The Rio+20 declaration includes a voluntary approach to sustainability reporting – something that was on the table 10 years ago and is wholly insufficient to address corporate abuses and crimes.

The Rio+20 declaration unfortunately states that governments should support initiatives including “promoting the contribution of the private sector” and the only reference to mobilizing public finance was made in connection to public-private partnerships.

The Rio+20 declaration does not include any of the steps raised in a statement issued on June 4 by Friends of the Earth International and other organisations and signed by more than 400 organisations.

The steps that should be taken include:

Limiting the privileged status that business currently has in official UN negotiations and policy-making; limits on the role of the “business and industry” major group; disclosure of existing relations and links between the UN with the private sector; a code of conduct for UN officials; a review of existing partnerships with corporates and trade associations, and a halt to entering into any new such partnerships; increased transparency around lobbying; and the establishment of a legally binding framework to hold companies accountable to environmental, human rights and labour rights law.

[1] The solutions promoted at the People’s Summit include:

  • Small scale and local renewable energy production
  • Investing in energy efficiency
  • Shifting from export oriented large scale food production to food sovereignty to serve local food needs
  • Implementing a global financial transaction tax
  • Implementing internationally binding rules for companies and sanctions if they violate them