Latin American leaders from across the region voiced critical concerns this week at the UN Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference about the industrialized world’s responsibility to tackle a wide range of environmental problems from climate change to deforestation. The largest-ever UN conference drew heads of state and senior officials from 193 countries and upward of 50,000 participants for talks on hundreds of sustainability-related topics.
Bolivian President Evo Morales criticized industrialized countries for insisting that developing nations reduce their carbon footprint and President of Ecuador Rafael Correa made a similar observation, saying that rich nations are the biggest contributors to environmental contamination and that they should finance programs to combat global warming, “Twenty percent of the world’s richest countries generates 60 percent of the world’s emissions, while the poorest quintile generates 0.7 percent. This is one of the worst distributions I’ve ever seen,” said Correa.
Meanwhile, large-scale demonstrations by dozens of groups were organized on the sidelines of the conference to protest perceived inaction on environmental issues by world leaders. In an interview with the UK’s The Guardian, California native Miariana Calderon said the demonstrations were a response to the fact that, “World leaders have delivered something that fails to move the world forward from the first Rio summit, showing up with empty promises at Rio+20…This text is a polluters’ plan, and unless people start listening to the people, history will remember it as a failure for the people and the planet,” said Calderon.