Most of us in the world - both rich and poor - would like to see Rio+20 pointing to the future we want, for ourselves and for our children, with ambitious goals being set to conserve natural resources, protect the environment, generate new jobs, build sustainable cities, improve access to and the quality of food and basic services, but it is now becoming increasingly apparent that the Rio+20 negotiations may not get us there.
Rather than offering ambitious commitments, most negotiators are seeking an agreement that simply refers to commitments already made in existing international agreements without going any further. The Co-Chairs' proposed text is being watered down in every aspect of future action in every Rio+20 theme. Countries don't seek to reaffirm, support and commit, but rather to note, acknowledge and recall. All actions thus run the risk of becoming voluntary. And in many cases, the text is becoming so convoluted, it will be a wonder if anyone will be able to agree on how to translate the text into action.
Developed countries are attentively rephrasing their engagements as best endeavors for technology transfer, financial assistance and capacity building support to developing countries. For their part, developing countries make repeated reference to countries' "common but differentiated responsibilities" and to developing countries' special needs, conditions and requirements for special treatment and financial support. As a result, the text is becoming no less than a set of polarized brackets, and given the demonstrated absence of any spirit of ambition and cooperation to elaborate text that reflects "the future we want", what we are likely to get in Rio is no more than "the past reloaded".