Jan Dusik of UNEP Speaks


Pressanya, Rio de Janeiro

PresSanya sat down with Jan Dusik, executive director of United Nations Environmental Programme(UNEP) regional office in Europe, and spoke about his observations on Rio+20. 

Mr. Dusik, did Rio+20 meet your expectations?

I think there are many important outcomes of the conference, both in the outcome document and then the result that still needs to be confirmed, but also in terms of the parallel events that are taking place, the bilateral meetings, and the presentations of voluntary initiatives. In combination, I think it is a very useful opportunity and we will need to start implementation on what has been agreed here. There are some important new roles for UNEP to work on in the area of green economy, in the science policy interface, in public participation, a range of things we will need to further detail. Still, I think there is a lot on the plate.

Since the document does not contain many binding statements, and because some of the delegates have said it is a matter of political will what countries will decide to do next, isn't it a bit disconcerting that countries are not obligated to do anything?

We were not really expecting that there would be an obligation to use green economy in a particular way. The way we have been working so far, in terms of providing advice, capacity building, this was something that was not obligatory to follow but it is something that is recognized as a useful model for the countries to choose.

How do you react to the unfortunate nickname that Rio+20 has been given: Rio-20?

It is for everyone to comment in their own way and we cannot really comment on what the governments are deciding or will decide to adopt. There are a lot of important things which are coming out of the conference and we will work on them. Naturally, there were ideas and ambitions from various players for more ambitious results but this was a result of the multilateral negotiation with the countries.

How much will this document affect UNFCCC talks in Qatar later this year?

It is difficult to say since climate was not really a part of debate or was very marginal. What I see as important is that the multilateral process as we know it continues to operate. Sure, nobody is totally happy with the result which may be probably the answer that the result is balanced and that the countries are able to discuss and to agree. There were tensions in the meeting rooms but the atmosphere was collaborative and rather friendly which shows there is willingness to agree. If it continues to be the case, of course there are important challenges which will be in the climate negotiations equally to this conference but definitely there is willingness to discuss and find solutions. 

Many NGO's signed the declaration called “Future We Don't Want.” Do you think it is possible to have another scenario on the last day of the conference? Could there be significant changes?

It is difficult to predict, the time will be limited and the negotiators have concluded on the text. We have heard from several leaders that they would have wanted to see another text in the document but whether the presidency will be willing to open the text and risk that everything what is already there could be dismantled. I think that rather not but I am not there to judge.

What are your predictions and expectations regarding the upgrading of UNEP? Will this be determined by funding or something else?

There are several steps which are needed. The first step relates to the confirmation by the General Assembly of what has been agreed here; we have to see how that operates in practice in the months to come. The second element is about financing, as you said, there is strong language on financing UNEP and again we will have to see what the translation into reality is. And the third is a list of functions which UNEP should be doing which has a mandate and the mandate is broader and more complex than it was before, and we will develop a full program on how to make sure that we can fulfill the mandate with resources that we have.