This week's Rio+20 Earth Summit on sustainable development (SD) has seen representatives from over 100 nations as well as NGOs and businesses from all over the World attend to decide on how to tackle the World's worsening environmental problems. The final text was agreed to include the strong recognition that much of the work will be led by regions and sub national governments.
Highlights of the text include an agreement to develop sustainable development goals, an acknowledgement that a green economy can reduce poverty, and recognition of the need to use natural resources sustainably.
The conference was a great opportunity to tell leaders around the world how Wales is leading the way in building foundations for a sustainable future. The Minister spent his time there promoting what the Welsh Government is doing to embed sustainable development in everything it does; raising awareness of the important role regional governments play in international commitment to sustainability, and gathering views on Wales' plans to introduce an SD Bill to create sustainable places for people to live and work.
He addressed the World Summit of Federated States and Regions hosted by the Governor of Rio State and gained insights into the different approaches to SD.
“I have found it extremely useful to meet with and learn from other regional governments – so that we can make our SD legislation as strong and effective as possible.”
The Minister also called on leaders to make the Declaration stronger. Given the scale of the problem, he had hoped nations would commit to concrete actions that would truly demonstrate a commitment for change.
“It is clear that it is now up to regional governments to lead the way and set examples in how to set create sustainable places and practises. Despite the text lacking ambition, I am pleased that Wales now has an opportunity to lead the way.
"I have been overwhelmed by the support our groundbreaking proposals for Sustainable Development legislation have had as well as our other measures, such as our energy performance programme, Arbed, which has seen £66 million being invested to boost the green economy and improve the energy efficiency of 7500 homes. This is being supplemented by the recently launched second phase of arbed, which will see the Welsh Government investing £45m to reduce fuel bills for 4800 homes in deprived areas of Wales.”
"The world is set on an unsustainable course and the window for action is closing. It is clear that progress can happen quickest at regional level with regional governments being the true leaders in sustainability."