What prompted your early interest in the environment?
I think that my first real interest in the environment was when I read The Limits to Growth. What struck me was that we can’t just continue growing, producing and consuming the resources that we do. Those resources are already limited and we cannot continue to limit them. To me, it’s also a global situation and not just about one region. I’ve always had a background with the idea of “globality”, linked to my father, who studied and worked abroad. Through him and other experiences, I’ve come to realize that you’re not just from one country and that you’re part of a huge world.
What should do you think should be achieved at Rio?
For me, the most important point is that Rio+20 achieve what the first Rio Conference did not. The first Rio did not go beyond the environment and integrate the 3 pillars of the environment, the economy and the social sector. The concept is not just about the environment, yet we still continue to focus on the environment. However, this hasn’t worked and therefore we need to look at the social issues and the economic issues and how these tie in together. I firmly believe that Rio+20 can accomplish this integration.
Can you explain the work of the sustainability panel?
The sustainability panel was set up by the Secretary General to look at sustainable development and see why, after 20 years, that we’re still far way from sustainable development in terms of the world. The question we’re trying to analyze is ‘why is sustainable development so hard to implement?’ The panel is trying to find solutions that are implementable. In doing so, we’ve found that life is far more complex than just the three pillars. It is also about other global issues such as water, energy and health. The inclusion of all these other factors has helped shape the panels thinking about Rio as well.
How influential will the work of the panel be?
When the panel was set up we made it very clear that it would not formally be about the Rio+20 process alone. It would also be meant for other processes as well. The Secretary General intends to use the panel for many different forums. Additionally, the issues covered by the panel depend on two things. The first is the quality of the report and how far reaching and how feasible those recommendations will be. The second is how member states are going to commit to their promises and try to implement them while simultaneously engaging their peers to do the same.
What do you believe are the priorities in the run up to Rio+20?
I believe that Rio should achieve outcomes in many different levels. It should be a place where constituencies can share their experiences and gain from building bridges. Rio can also be the place where partnerships are created and things can be concretely achieved. I also hope that there are many intergovernmental agreements established and that institutional processes are addressed in depth, for which the panel will make solid recommendations.