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STATEMENT: Rio+20 Wraps Up with "More of a Whimper Than a Roar"

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) comes to a close today. In total, more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of representatives from government, business, and civil society came together over two weeks to advance solutions on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro.

[Editors’ note: You can find WRI’s experts’ analysis on specific issues and outcomes here.]

Following is statement by Manish Bapna, Acting President, World Resources Institute:

"Rio+20 closed with more of a whimper than a roar. Expectations for the conference were understandably low, but the outcomes were even more modest. The agreed upon text was simply not forceful enough to meet the environment and development challenges of our times. This was a missed opportunity to re-energize the global conversation and importantly drive greater action around sustainability.

"There were a few bright spots— the advancement of Sustainable Development Goals, support for better governance around environmental issues, and progress on sustainable transport, among others. But, still, that is not enough.

"Certainly, there are reasons why the conference fell short: economic and political crises on the global stage; the challenge of taking on complex issues; and the struggle of coming to a unanimous decision among the diverse views. These challenges are real, but they should not be an excuse for inaction.

"So then, what comes next?

"We cannot lose sight of the big picture. It would be a mistake to conflate the outcome here with what’s happening on the ground around the world. Real action is taking place on national and local levels in many countries. Just look at Germany’s shift to clean energy, Niger’s efforts to re-green its landscape, or Rio’s just launched bus rapid transit system.

"We understand the challenges. We know the solutions. What we need is to build the political will for bolder leadership.

"As we leave Rio and return to our homes around the globe, we must not give up on the vision of a more sustainable pathway. Given the urgency of the challenges, we must continue to push forward with ambitious solutions that will create a more sustainable future."

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Read a summary blog by Manish on where to look for key areas of progress at Rio+20.

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