‘Lead us out of this mess’… global experts make case for sanity of the Earth at Stockholm+50

A crucial international conference, Stockholm+50, held in Sweden, designed to examine the state of the Earth and proffer way to a sane and sustainable future. NaijaTimes‘scontributor, Kole Odutola (PhD) was there and he files the report below:

THE message was loud and unambiguous. “Lead us out of this mess,” says the United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres as he urged delegates to be focussed on objectives of the Stockholm+50 international conference, which held June 2 to 3, 2022 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The conference was organised by the UN with active collaboration of some Civil Society Organisations. It was a huge gathering of experts in divergent fields who gathered in Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm from around the world.

Nigeria was represented by Ms. Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State for Environment.

The UN Secretariat disclosed via its secretariat that: “More than 4000 participants registered to attend the international meeting this week including six Heads of States and two Royal attendees.”

At the end of the 2-day gathering, there was a comprehensive statement from Presidents to Plenary. There were 10 Key recommendations for accelerating action towards a healthy planet for the prosperity of all.

The statement reads:

“In our capacity as Presidents, the following key recommendations emerged from Member States and Stakeholders, through the Plenary and Leadership Dialogues at the Stockholm+50 International Meeting.

“The recommendations reflect the resolve of the participants to urgently accelerate the implementation of commitments for a healthy planet for the prosperity of all, in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development – including a sustainable recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – and taking into account the outcomes from the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly and from the special session of the United Nations Environment Assembly to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), held 3 – 4 March 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya.

“Since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, the global community has adopted a wealth of Multilateral Environmental Agreements as well as other relevant commitments, including the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Fulfilment of the objectives and commitments of all these agreements would take us a long way towards securing a healthy planet for all.

“Stockholm+50 has emphasized the global interconnectedness of the environment and the need to collectively address the triple crisis of our common environment – climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – for present and future generations. Stockholm+50 has also underlined the urgent need for bold and deliberate actions as well as clear political will to accelerate action on these commitments, strengthen the multilateral system, increase ambition and solidarity, and set us on a credible path towards a healthy planet for all – leaving no one behind.

“The discussions during Stockholm+50, reaffirmed the importance of local realities and national implementation, and the need for a combination of incentives and policies, finance and capacity support to achieve sustainable development. We have heard the following recommendations for actions to accelerate implementation.

1. Place human well-being at the centre of a healthy planet and prosperity for all, through recognizing that a healthy planet is a prerequisite for peaceful, cohesive and prosperous societies; restoring our relationship with nature by integrating ethical values; and adopting a fundamental change in attitudes, habits, and behaviours, to support our common prosperity.

2. Recognize and implement the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, through fulfilling the vision articulated in principle 1 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration.

3. Adopt system wide change in the way our current economic system works to contribute to a healthy planet, through defining and adopting new measures of progress and human well-being, supported by economic and fiscal policies that account for the value of the environment; investing in infrastructure, developing effective policy and encouraging a global dialogue to promote sustainable consumption and production; and promoting phase out of fossil fuels while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for financial and technical support towards a just transition.

4. Strengthen national implementation of existing commitments for a healthy planet, through enhancing environmental national legislation, budget, planning processes and institutional frameworks; promoting evidence-based policymaking, including by enhanced collaboration between academic disciplines and thematic scientific panels, drawing on insights and

expertise from indigenous and traditional knowledge; and scaling-up capacity support and development, access to and financing for environmentally sound technologies.

5. Align public and private financial flows with environmental, climate and sustainable development commitments, through developing and implementing well-designed policies to repurpose environmentally harmful subsidies; redirecting, mobilizing and scaling up the availability of public and private financial flows to support economic diversification; and adopting recovery and stimulus measures, blended sources of capital, and de-risking instruments that augment financial flows.

6. Accelerate system-wide transformations of high impact sectors, such as food, energy, water, buildings and construction, manufacturing, and mobility, through adopting and implementing policies to promote circularity, resource efficiency, regenerative production approaches and nature-based solutions in value chains, and adopting frameworks that enhance and reinforce transparency and accountability by business; promoting just transitions through support for impacted youth, labour, and local communities by strengthening capacities and skills for the creation of green jobs and for micro, small and medium enterprises; and transforming food systems by promoting regenerative farming and fisheries approaches that provide healthy diets and minimize food waste, including investments in the ocean economy.

7. Rebuild relationships of trust for strengthened cooperation and solidarity, through recognizing the importance of developed country leadership in promoting sustainability transitions; supporting capacity building and technology transfer for national efforts by developing countries to implement internationally agreed environmental agreements, taking into account national circumstances, including honouring the commitment to mobilize $100 billion every year for climate finance for developing countries; and enabling all relevant stakeholders including youth, women, rural communities, indigenous peoples, interfaith groups and local communities to participate meaningfully in policy formulation and implementation at both national and international level.

8. Reinforce and reinvigorate the multilateral system, through ensuring an effective rules-based multilateral system that supports countries in delivering on their national and global commitments, to ensure a fair and effective multilateralism; strengthening environmental rule of law, including by promoting convergence and synergies within the UN system and between Multilateral Environmental Agreements; strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme, in line with the [email protected] Political Declaration.

9. Recognize intergenerational responsibility as a cornerstone of sound policy-making, through engaging with the Stockholm+50 Global Youth Task Force Policy Paper; highlighting the important need of building the capacity of young people to engage with financial institutions; recognizing the critical role of young people in environmental action, and highlight that progress has been made on fostering meaningful youth engagement, and calling upon the multilateral environmental funds to include youth-inclusive parameters in funding schemes, and further take steps to ensure ease of access of funds for environmental action for youth-led organizations.

10. Take forward the Stockholm+50 outcomes, through reinforcing and reenergizing the ongoing international processes, including a global framework for biodiversity, an implementing agreement for the protection of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and the development of a new plastics convention; and engaging with the relevant conferences, such as the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, High Level Political Forum, the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Summit of the Future.”

Indigenous people Stockholm 50 1
Cross section of participants

*******

‘…State of affairs in my country – Swedish minister, Brunegard

Brunegard

A chat with Ms. Gudrun Brunegård, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Swedish Riksdag. She has served as Member of the Riksdag representing the constituency of Kalmar County since April 1, 2019. She  studied International Child Health in Developing Countries at Uppsala Universitet. In addition she trained and worked as a Nurse for many years before transitioning into politics.

The conversation was of tangential issues not directly connected to the conference but had to do with the nature of politics in Sweden.

NaijaTimes: You spoke about the marginalisation of the country you represent; can you tell our readers more about this situation?

Ms. Brunegård:  I will try to elaborate a little more on the background and circumstances concerning the infrastructure of my region, Kalmar County, in the southeast of Sweden, including the island Öland, the mainland coast and about 70 km into the mainland, about 200 km from North to South. 240,000 inhabitants, but a couple of million tourists during summer holidays. My little town, Vimmerby, has a population of 8000 in town and 7500 in the surrounding farmland and villages, but receiving about 500,000 tourists visiting [the Swedish writer born in 1907] Astrid Lindgren[1] World, a theme park with several outdoor theatres where actors, professionals and children, are displaying different stories from her books. Visitors usually stay for one-three days, in order to experience everything, and make excursions in the tracks of the author.

As you may well understand such a flow of visitors demands good transportation systems. There is a railway, much appreciated, but with longstanding needs of maintenance. Certain parts are heavily worn out forcing the trains to move very slowly. There are very few meeting-points along the railroad, making it impossible for tighter schedules than trains every two hours.  

The trains are getting worn-out, too. The regional authorities have made a big order for new and climate-friendly trains, meant for electricity and batteries instead of today’s diesel trains. That would call for a need of supplying electricity to parts of the railroad, saving a lot of money compared to having electricity all the way.

In the communication with the minister for infrastructure (Tomas Eneroth), he seems quite resistant to the needs of our county (in spite of coming from a closely neighbouring county). His idea is rather to listen to the collective views of those with the strongest voices and with powerful neighbours supporting their wishes, than supplying disadvantaged regions with infrastructure for improving their opportunities. To be concrete: Since Kalmar City is at the end of the railroad, we have no neighbour supporting our proposals. Our neighbours support only what is useful for themselves, i.e. good connections with Stockholm, Gothenburg and Copenhagen. The fact that we would need the same for our welding, farming, food and forestry industries, and for our tourists, is not in their interest.

You did talk about the state of roads in your county, please elaborate

The situation of roads is very much the same. There has been very little money spent on maintenance, making the smaller roads and countryside bridges deteriorate in such a way that several portions of the roads have been blocked from traffic. In a neighbouring municipality some farmers need to travel an extra 20 km between their different fields and barns compared to last year, since the bridge is in a too bad condition for carrying the weight of farming vehicles.

I raised the question with the minister, asking if the concept of equality and equity could not apply as part of the responsibility of the government to give equal opportunities to different regions. Of course, he did not like the idea of those concept being widened like that. He was clear about restricting it to healthcare and social services and the likes.

The proof of the Social Democrats’ lack of concern for our part of the country can be seen in the latest plan for infrastructural investments for the coming ten years. A large sum will be spent on starting up high-speed railroads between Stockholm-Gothenburg and Malmö/Copenhagen, which was previously meant for maintenance, meaning that the already meagre allowance for maintenance will get even smaller, more countryside bridges getting closed for traffic, and this will result in higher expenses for farmers and population in the countryside.

Add the highest fuel prices in the world to that. We are seriously worried about the survival of companies and common people outside of the bigger cities. A Nurse Assistant I know, who lives 10 km from her job, needs her little car going to work in late evenings and week-ends, when there are no buses. She can hardly afford going to work anymore! There are families who cannot afford driving their children to football training because of the high fuel prices.

Please help us understand why the Social Democratic party in your country wants to increase the benefit of Pensioners.

Yes, the Social Democrats were forced by the Left Party to raise the pensions for all by 1000 SEK per month [42,263.14 Naira], thus stepping away from the long-standing cross-party agreement on principles for pensions. The centre-right opposition (where my party, the Christian Democrats belong) has proposed another solution, but staying within the framework of the pension agreement principles. Our proposition is formed in order to give a higher sum (approximately 1000 SEK in total) to the pensioners with the lowest pensions by a combination of raised pension and raised allowance for rental costs. Pensioners in higher income levels will also get higher pensions, but will not be in need of the rental allowance.

I was so glad to hear you talk about the tradition of Parliamentarians going to the people and not waiting for them to come to you since you sit from Tuesdays to Thursdays. I hope more parliaments can learn from you. This idea of not sitting on Fridays now gives a different spin on the Group started by the young woman –Greta. Her movement is termed Fridays For Future. I wonder why she chose a day you all were away?

Why Greta Thunberg chose Friday for demonstrating in front of the Riksdag, I really do not know. Actually, I wondered myself, as very few parliamentarians are in the Riksdag on Fridays. Maybe it was because the schedule in most schools is a bit shorter than other days, so she would not miss as many lessons in school?

Thank you very much for your time

Well, by this I hope that I have answered at least some of your questions.


 

Comments are closed.