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Caroline Spelman on her time at the Earth Summit in Rio

Twenty years on from the original Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, delegates from 193 countries reconvened this month to tackle the lack of progress on putting the global economy onto a more sustainable footing.

Twenty years on from the original Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, delegates from 193 countries reconvened this month to tackle the lack of progress on putting the global economy onto a more sustainable footing.

I had the responsibility for negotiating on behalf of the UK and spent months beforehand garnering support for our aims.

The biggest new idea to come from the summit was Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs to mirror the success of Millennium Development Goals which have driven action to help the world’s poorest people by such things as securing education for all children.

So now we need to tackle the challenge of feeding and watering an extra billion people in just 13 years time. It will take us all using resources more sustainably to make this possible.

The UK was an early supporter of this idea which has now been agreed in principle. We also fought to get a mention in the agreement at the summit of the value of natural capital, in other words not taking for granted what nature provides for free.

We secured recognition for what progressive British businesses such as Unilever and Aviva are doing to account for sustainability in their annual accounts.

Surely as investors we want to know which companies are genuinely sustainable after all the unsustainable growth which has landed the world economy in such trouble.

So all in all the UK got most of what it wanted from an unwieldy UN process involving 193 nations even if it will take much more from each of us to really save the planet.

 

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