UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon is battling to rescue a summit of more than 100 world leaders in Rio de Janeiro in two weeks which he says must guide the world away from a “tragic” end.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development is taking on the vast challenge of transforming environmental, social and economic policy to cope with a world population past seven billion, exhausting dwindling resources and straining cities to the limit.
Ban and specialist groups have however accused governments of putting national interests before the common good in months of agonizing negotiations before the Rio event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Earth summit in the same city.
Rich nations have been hit economic crisis and want austerity. Poor nations complain that past promises to give extra cash and new technology to battle climate change, poverty and epidemics have still not been carried out.
With US President Barack Obama, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel staying away from the so-called Rio+20 summit, the UN secretary general is now furiously lobbying leaders to get an action plan agreed. “We have to now have a correct vision where we are heading. Whether we are heading toward mutual prosperity, common prosperity, or whether we are going toward very negative tragic consequences for humanity,” Ban said Monday in Saudi Arabia. “The negotiations have been painfully slow,” he said in a recent meeting with reporters.