African negotiators gear up for Rio+20

Rio+20 logo15 March 2012, New York, USA - Three months prior to the Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, African negotiators gathered in New York for a training session on negotiation techniques and African positions on Rio+20. Negotiators agreed to unite for a common goal -- preserve and protect the environment for future generations while achieving social and economic development goals. Comprised of five sessions, the workshop provided participants with the chance to build consensus, and implement a vision for sustainable development in Africa. In this regard, Mr. Yuvan Beejadhur, Advisor at the World Bank Office in New York encouraged participants to focus on the commonalities shared by all countries in order to find political responses that will allow states “to get things right together.”

Although the transition to a greener global economy presents growth opportunities, it will not be without challenges such as markets volatility, water scarcity and access to technology by developing countries. To this end, H.E. Mr. Henri Djombo, Minister of Sustainable Development, Forestry Economy and the Environment of the Republic of Congo and Coordinator of the Africa’s Common Position for Rio+20, expressed his optimism that African governments will overcome these challenges, assimilating African delegates to “African soldiers ready for the combat and sacrifices that need to be made.” According to Dr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, “a green economy is driven by public and private investments; therefore it requires diverse partnerships at local and regional level.”

H.E. Mr. Baso Sangqu, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, stressed the need for innovative financing for green economy and requested the African Development Bank’s financial support. Dr. Anthony Nyong, Manager of Compliance and Safeguards, African Development Bank identified “green economy as one of the best alternatives to retake the course of growth in Africa” and suggested the creation of a sustainable development budget.

African negotiators urged the AU Member states to clearly identify the outcomes they would like to achieve at the Rio conference before identifying strategies for reaching green economy. Also, they stressed the importance of consistency and underlined the key role the G77 will have to play during the negotiations. On behalf of UNITAR New York Office, a negotiation trainer instructed participants to focus on what was the outcome they desired in Rio and what was their best alternative to a negotiated agreement.