Below the full interview:
Source: O Estado de São Paulo
'Rio+20 should propose IPCC of sustainability'
Scientist suggests the creation of incentive mechanism and review similar to the climate studies
The scientific evidence isn't being effectively incorporated into actions in pursuit of sustainable development, and Rio+20 should bring, in the final document, a clear incentive for this. That opinion will be defended by a international group of scientists at the conference, according to the German researcher Gisbert Glaser, International Council for Science (ICSU).
The organization, together with Brazilian Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Science and Technology, held between 11th and June 15th, PUC-Rio, the Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development . In the following interview, Glaser suggests accelerating the transition to a more sustainable future, the conference should support a new researcher mechanism on the subject.
From science view, which is the main problem of Rio+20’s zero-draft?
It is not very ambitious. Not the way it needs to be for the next ten years a move towards sustainable development. We still can't see stronger commitments in the document, although there is fair amount of good proposals, related to the urgency of actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, reverse the loss of biodiversity, stop the forests degradation, reduce waste and water pollution, as well as more concrete actions to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty, and guarantee access to energy and clean water for everyone.
Many researchers have said there is a lack of an environmental document. Do you agree?
In fact, many developing countries, but also some rich countries have given emphasis to economic and social development in the final document. Environmental issues are not strongly reflected. On the other hand, the impact of human activity on nature has reached the level that exceeds some of the limits of the planet. We are really at risk of seriously disrupting the operation of some natural systems. At the first conference in Rio, we didn’t know this was so serious. But 20 years later, we know we are reaching the limits of the planet and it should be clear in the document as a concern for governments, civil society, businesses, industries, for all.
ICSU said that Rio+20 should be a milestone in the development of a new contract between science and society. Do you think that science has not been considered in the discussion yet?
Not enough, both in discussions and documents that should result from the conference. But we must recognize that in the last twenty years, scientists have greatly improved in analyzing problems. Now we need science to think more about solutions. That would be the key to a new contract between science and society. The scientific community needs to refocus its work. Of course we have to continue examining the problems and consequences that we’ll suffer if we don’t act urgently and in the right direction. There are several, but are not applied or that knowledge is not even accessible. I think and incentive that this search for scientific and technological community should be in the document. This is what we propose in this research that we will launch for the forum, the Future Earth.
Could you tell something about the content of this research?
We need to start looking at the world problems in a more integrated way. For example, to really transform the large metropolis. Instead of just looking at the future problems of climate change, it's time to deal with the situations that these cities are already facing and which contribute to emissions of greenhouse gases and consumption of natural resources, with the loss of biodiversity. Science must help to find a more integrated action to the rulers and those who are planning cities. It’s the kind of research which we should turn to now on.
How do you think it should appear in the final document of the Rio+20?
Our proposal is that the document should support the establishment of a global mechanism for facilitating science and technology for sustainable development and green economy, focusing on North-South and South-South cooperation. This mechanism should encourage more research and especially a better access and utilization of this knowledge. Another dimension is in relation to science for policy. Something like the panel that already exists to evaluate the research on climate change, the IPCC. We need something like that, to make regular reports from de perspective of sustainable development.