On 23-25 April 2012 Sweden’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry for Foreign Affairs opens an international conference, Stockholm+40 - Partnership Forum for Sustainable Development. The discussions, which will attract a number of the world’s leading political figures, mark the 30th anniversary of the first UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972.
But will the conference deliver any meaningful messages ahead of the Rio Earth Summit in June?
Summits in Copenhagen, Durban and other world cities have been tasked with discussing national governments’ ambitions to find global agreements on sustainable development, Millennium Development Goals and climate change. Despite this, the climate deal is still up in the air and in my view there are no clear signs of a breakthrough. Instead, I see passive national governments that are not engaged enough to bring us closer to any solid agreements.
But at the same time, we’ve seen more cities working together with businesses and their stakeholders to act positively and deliver solutions on sustainable development. It is these initiatives that have been most successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and finding ways to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
It seems fitting that the conference is being hosted by Sweden, a country that has benefited from such programs. The Swedish now use more bio energy than fossil fuel so perhaps when discussions start on Monday, the participants will be inspired by the sort of Swedish initiatives highlighted in the new edition of Sustainable Solutions magazine. It highlights some of the country’s most innovative solutions that have been successful because they embrace local perspectives and involve all stakeholders.
The real question therefore, is whether the Swedish Government will take the lead ahead of the Summit and bring these powerful local solutions from its cities to the negotiating table in Rio? That question will be answered by Wednesday when the Stockholm+40 conference draws to a conclusion.
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