New book reveals evolution goals
“An animated, engaging and well-documented tour through the recent history of development, culminating in Rio+20 and its declaration.”
With those words and dozens more, Sir George Alleyne, the Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, offered a cogent assessment of a new book, From Rio20 To A New Development Agenda – Building A bridge To A Sustainable Future. It’s a 240-page publication that was co-authored by three people who know more than a thing or two about the environment, global economic and social expansion, and energy.
They were well-equipped to review what took place in Brazil two years ago when thousands of government officials and experts from almost every United Nations member state sat down to chart a development blueprint for the next two decades of the 21st century.
Sir Shridath Ramphal, a former Commonwealth Secretary-General, said the book was “a refreshing and timely contribution to the body of development literature”.
Dame Billie Miller, a former Barbados Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, agreed.
As Dame Billie saw it, the authors – Liz Thompson, a former Barbados Cabinet Minister who served as one of two executive coordinators of the Rio+20 conference, Felix Dodds, a fellow at the Global Research Institute of the University of North Carolina; and Jorge Laguana-Celis, senior advisor on sustainable development to the President of the UN General Assembly – “captured the nuances and challenges”
of a rapidly changing landscape of geopolitics, “presenting them in a way that enhances our understanding of the major development issues of our time and the response of the multilateral system to those issues”.
Actually, the book which was launched at a recent reception at the Spanish Cultural Centre on Manhattan’s east side, takes a hard and independent look at the way international development policies are formulated in a changing global environment. In straightforward language devoid of the clichés and the often convoluted expressions that cloud communications in the world of multilateralism, especially at the UN, it zeroed in on the deliberations of the 2010 Rio+20 conference, the follow-up meeting to the Earth Summit that drew up a blueprint that took countries everywhere into the 21st century and beyond.
The authors aren’t just spectators of the international decision-making processes that should lead to a significant reduction if not elimination of poverty, a spurring of human development, and a reshaping of economies of large, middle-size and small countries. That’s particularly true of small island-developing states, SIDS, Barbados and its CARICOM neighbours. They were hard hit by the fall-out from the global economic crisis that began in 2008 and shows few signs of returning to the go-go days that characterised the world economy at the turn of the century.
“We took a realistic look at the global economic and social landscape, its strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes and offered a perspective, mapping a new development agenda in the post 2015 era,” said Thompson. “The current set of UN Millennium goals and framework are to expire next year and we need an agenda that will encourage an effective response to the demographic, economic and environmental challenges that will define our future in the decades to come.”
Joseph Goddard, Barbados’ UN Ambassador, who addressed dozens of diplomats, experts and others at the launch indicated its timing couldn’t have been more propitious. With people expected in Samoa in September for the third UN SIDS conference – the first was in Barbados and the second in Mauritius – the upcoming meeting, envisaged at the Rio+20 conference is vital to the world’s small states.
“The Samoa Conference takes place at a pivotal moment, and is a crucial precursor to the post 2015 period, when we will seek to elaborate on the past 2015 development agenda,” the Barbados envoy said.
He said “our survival depends on it.”