News / 20 June 2012

Vice Versa interview of Nathalie van Haren about RIO+20

Nathalie van Haren, senior policy officer at Both ENDS, is participating in the RIO+20 conference that officially started today. Whilst the draft text presented last March was no reason for optimism, Van Haren remains hopeful that the international community will take the necessary decisions. In an interview by Vice Versa (A Dutch magazine on development cooperation) she explains why a strict focus on the environment, seen in the draft text, is problematic.


During the 1992 conference in Rio there was a shared sense of optimism that was reflected in the final declaration: three pages with ground principles about the relationship between humans and nature. Unfortunately, the focus on this balance has been lost, and there is little concern about the people who are depending directly and indirectly on nature. The EU appears to only promote innovation it has already developed itself, whilst the US has little space to move because of the upcoming presidential election. The G77-countries and China are divided and stand little chance in their demands for money. Money for the sustainable development of poor countries, which is owed by the Western world from a historical perspective.


Whilst this is no ideal situation, Van Haren remains hopeful that further progress is possible keeping the 1992 principles in mind: a systematic change, based on the link between humans and nature. One way of achieving this is by listening to southern visionaries, who add a new dimension to the discussion. They look past the narrow, technical focus on environmental issues and try to find the solutions to bigger, more fundamental problems. Van Haren: "It's like we're examining an elephant's toenail. We're so close up that we cannot even see the elephant, or the environment surrounding it. But the decision to achieve true change is a decision no one dares to make. I might be naïve and putting too much hope in the international community, but come one, be brave and go for it!"

Besides the official conference there also is the People's Summit, where society representatives exchange knowledge. Read her blog (Dutch) to find out about Van Haren's experiences in Rio, and read the complete interview with Vice Versa here (Dutch).

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