Response to the Zero Draft – Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)[1]

The Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)[2] is closely following progress toward the Rio+20 conference, with an eye on aspects that will protect women’s rights and advance gender equality and sustainable development. It is from this perspective WEDO makes the following comments on the Zero Draft.

WEDO applauds the efforts of governments and civil society to contribute to the process, and appreciates the efforts of the co-chairs to compile and synthesize the hundreds of submissions into the Zero Draft Document, “The Future We Want.” In its current form, however, the Zero Draft does not reflect the future we actually want. WEDO is deeply concerned about the lack of urgency and ambition expressed in the document, particularly in the preamble or ‘vision’; the continued side-lining of the social pillar and human rights in relation to the intensive focus on green economy and growth; and the missing mechanisms for implementation and accountability. The future we want would be reflected in an outcome of Rio+20 that is forward-looking, action-oriented and concrete; the Zero Draft reads as a catch-all for many things and yet does little to carve a concrete path for ‘the future we want.’

Today’s multiple crises (climate, fuel, food, financial, etc.,) together with intensification of resource use and unsustainable consumption and production patterns, call for bold, collaborative and decisive action. Achieving sustainable development – given the lack of implementation of the sustainable development framework and integration of the three pillars, particularly of the social pillar – requires a transformation of current patterns, with support from the highest level and clear financial means to jump start the transformation. The responsibilities of developed countries should be clarified, beyond capacity building and technology transfer, to support a societal transformation across economy, environment and human behavior.

Gender equality should be integrated in the text as it really is: a prerequisite for achieving truly sustainable development and a critical cross-cutting issue. It must be integrated, therefore, as part of the guiding vision, as a stand-alone issue framing implementation actions and as a backbone for the elaboration of sustainable development goals in the post-2015 development framework. Now is the time to construct and invest in a framework for true progress, building on the foundations of twenty years ago, particularly the Rio Principles and Agenda 21.

WEDO acknowledges that progress has been made in numerous areas to advance gender equality across UN system programmes, government policies and wide civil society action since 1992, including in recent advances in UN Reform with the creation of UN Women and in the three Rio Conventions. However, advancing gender equality and realizing women’s rights and meaningfully implementing sustainable development requires systemic change across the three interlinked pillars. WEDO calls upon all stakeholders to invest in the Rio+20 process and support a revitalized, reformed and strengthened structure with specific actions to initiate the change.

Click here to download WEDO’s recommendations for improvement of or inclusion of gender language text of the January 10, 2012 version of the Rio+20 “The Future We Want” zero-draft outcome document. Recommended language is in bold. Comments are bold and italicized.

[1] For more information contact Eleanor Blomstrom, WEDO Program Coordinator, at

[2] WEDO is a women’s global advocacy organization working toward a just world that promotes and protects human rights, gender equality and the integrity of the environment. Find more at

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