NEW YORK (July 1)- The Rio+20 conference on sustainable development ended a week ago, with little cause for celebration and many reasons to continue our work. After two years of preparation, we find the final document far weaker than we had hoped, far from reflecting the ‘future we want’. While the outcome touches upon many critical issues – including climate change, energy, health, jobs, possible Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and much more – it delves into few. The Women’s Major Group statement details some specific reactions.
From a personal perspective, it was a difficult conference that we are glad to put behind us. As WEDO was founded in the belief that gender equality is intrinsic to sustainable development – and the outcomes of the Earth Summit twenty years ago affirmed the undeniable link – we grew frustrated and exhausted by the apparent rolling back of time, having to fight the same fights, having to make the case yet again. Even some of our closest government allies questioned women’s roles in sustainable development. The now well-known deletion of reproductive rights was but one character in an all-around bad script. The lack of commitment to real progress across all pillars of sustainable development is profoundly problematic – and an outcome that is bad for the planet is bad for women (and men), too.
From a gender equality perspective, from WEDO’s perspective, we have cause to worry – but we found motivation and momentum, too. Gender equality was included in the outcome as a cross-cutting thread – as well as positioned to receive the special attention it demands. References to implementing CEDAW and Beijing were positive; specific references to women’s role and leadership in many places was a victory. Thousands of women from all over the world went to Rio. We gathered, collaborated and had real impact – strong voices in support of women’s empowerment and leadership rang out from the grassroots to highest decision-making levels. In the spirit of celebrating women, celebrating progress and celebrating each other, WEDO proudly launched our newest publication, a snapshot of WEDO’s history. We will take the moments of joy, laughter, strategizing, protesting and solidarity with us on the post-Rio road ahead.
And to that road is where we now turn our attention. WEDO will join partners and peers throughout the next few months to reflect on Rio and strategize for the next steps – including the critical post-2015 development process and the development of SDGs. Stay tuned for the schedule – or join us already by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, a day-by-day account of our Rio+20 – some of our favorite moments, events and friends!
Join us. Stay in touch. Take action. You’ll hear from us again soon!
In the meantime, in friendship and hope,
The WEDO Team