Rio+ 20

All this week the EESC’s President, Staffan Nilsson, accompanied by a small delegation of EESC members has been actively participating in a series of events in and around the UN’s Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro. (The Committee booked hotel rooms and flights far in advance and so did not fall into the expensive trap of the late bookers.) In addition to the conference itself and all the side events, our members participated in a Board meeting and the General Assembly of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions and in an EU-Brazil Round Table meeting. Staffan, in particular, has tirelessly tweeted and posted messages on Facebook, updating his followers about the various events and side events in which he has been involved, including a meeting organised by the EESC in which the European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, participated and a series of bilateral briefings with Commissioner Janez Potocnik. In his speech, Mr Barroso said that ‘The EESC is a very good example of the extent to which civil society and the social partners are involved in the decision making process and its benefits are clear to see.’ As to the substance, Staffan stated: “The road from Rio is as important as the road to Rio. From now on, we are in implementation mode. The EESC will continue to act on the Rio+20 follow-up within the EU and with its non-EU partners, in order to promote, facilitate and enable civil society input into policy- and decision-making processes so that we can really achieve the future we want.” The illustration for this post shows our indefatigible Staffan at one of the last side events, on the theme of intergenerational education for sustainable development.


  1. Jonathan

    It’s not just the EESC but across the EU institutions, where I really do question the value of sending all these seperate delegations to events like this, particularly when it’s meant to be about combating ‘climate change’.

    For the ordinary citizen it gives the appearance of arrogance and privilage by saying, “we’re important politicians and business people, so we are allowed to fly however often we like because we matter and you don’t. Plus we don’t personally pay for our flights anyway! But Mr and Mrs Ordinary must pay huge environmental taxes on their flights for their annual family holiday in the sun.”

  2. Martin

    Point taken, Jonathan. It’s not an easy balancing act. The negotiating parties have to meet. Whether in Rio or New York or Geneva, the overall travel burden will be roughly the same, and Rio had the symbolic value of being re-visited twenty years on. Then come the NGOs and various advocacy organisations, who hope to make their voices heard and, if at all possible, influence the negotiators. With particular regard to the EU, there was only one delegation, and a restricted one at that. Staffan Nilsson, EESC President and a member of that delegation, was indefatigible in meeting NGOs and attending side events as well as the plenary events and the formal briefings with the EU’s negotiators, thus illustrating the EESC’s role as ‘bridge between the EU institutions and civil society’.

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