Developing world regions ‘should drive their own change’

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This article was originally published on the SciDev.Net Website 12 June 2012

As has been widely thought for some time the World has reached it’s tipping point with regards to the amount of life it can sustain. The blame for this falls squarely with humans and their insatiable hunger for energy.

Rio+20 hopes to discuss issues that may help to to restore the natural balance to our delicate ecosystem.

 

Researchers from across the developing world are attending a series of meetings to push forward the science and policy issues they have identified for inclusion in next week’s Rio+20 summit.

Science and technology communities from five regions (Africa, the Arab States, Asia Pacific,Europe and Latin America) met during 2011, and some of their recommendations were taken forward by the Scientific and Technological Community — one of nine official ‘groups’ inputting into Rio+20 — as part of its formal contribution to the summit.

These have been presented by Edith N. Madela-Mntla, director of the International Council for Science’s (ICSU) regional office for Africa, to the Forum on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development, which is underway in Rio de Janeiro this week (11–15 June) ahead of the formal summit next week.

Even if the recommendations do not make it into the final Rio+20 document, the group now has a clear set of key issues to tackle, Madela-Mntla said.

Research communities must take these challenges forward and drive change themselves, whether within or outside the Rio+20 process, she told SciDev.Net, adding that most of their points had been included in the draft text for the negotiations.

Madela-Mntla said that scientists from different regions plan to come together over the next year, largely under the auspices of Future Earth — ICSU’s multidisciplinary research initiative on global change and sustainable development.

The key messages emerging from the regions were that “humans have [exceeded] the boundaries of the planet” and “we need to take urgent action”.

Specific recommendations included: the need for better science policy links at all levels — not just the global/UN level (as had been the focus of Rio+20 negotiations so far); capacity building and gender equality in developing countries; and setting research agendas through a participatory process, which would include local and indigenous communities.

Kerstin Schmidt-Verkerk, science officer at ICSU’s regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean, said one of the meetings would be held in Mexico City in December.

“One of the priorities is to integrate the results which came out of the regional workshops for Rio+20 as well as the results of our regional projects on priority areas of biodiversitynatural hazardssustainable energy and ocean acidification,” she said.

“We’re looking for partnerships with local research institutes, universities and organisations.”

Source: SciDev.Net – 12 June 2012