Interview: José Luis Balmaced
According to the preparatory activities to Rio +20, the Outreach magazine interviewed Chilean Ambassador Mister José Manuel Balmaceda, who participated in the workshop on ‘Improving the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development’ and talked about the importance of Principle 10 to Chilean government. Down you can read more details about the interview.
Opening speaker at the Workshop on Improving the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, held on Sunday, 25th March.
Following your opening remarks at the workshop on ‘Improving the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development’, why do you consider Principle 10 to be so important?
Chile promotes the participation of local communities in decision making processes, including the instruments to provide adequate information to citizens. Likewise, we are in favour of improving environmental tools to ensure environmental justice and respect of each country’s sovereignty; as well the provision of solutions at the international level to tackle environmental damage in the case of territories beyond national borders. I also want to stress the importance of Principle 10 as a powerful and concrete instrument to strengthen our democracies.
What needs to be done to ensure better implementation of Principle 10 worldwide?
Well, in this respect we definitely need the commitment of a large number of countries, including the engagement of the G77. In this regard – from a strategic perspective – the support given by UNEP is extremely important. We agree with Brazil that we should do our best to facilitate a global binding agreement on this issue. But, at the same time, we are clear that, in practical terms, we are still quite far from achieving this goal. For that reason, we have decided to concentrate our efforts on the Latin American and Caribbean region, as they are prepared to follow this path in line with the participative role that civil society has demonstrated. Up to now, there has been only one example of a regional convention on this issue, that of the Aarhus Convention. However, although Aarhus maintains an open regime, the process does not necessary favour the accession of countries outside the European sphere.
What do you believe should be achieved at Rio+20?
Twenty years on from the Rio Summit, civil society now expects this summit to provide concrete steps for us to respond to the challenges that the world is facing. Having said that, Chile is fully committed to achieving these goals. We know that we are going to face difficult negotiations with regards to green economy and governance, but we expect that both generosity, and the need to respond to the global community, will bring us to a declaration, that in a way should suit the expectations of the world civil society.
We have been working hard in the area of green economy; especially in regards to SGDs, where we are strongly supporting the Columbian initiative. We do believe the SDGs are necessary for the process and I would like to underline that civil society have demonstrated great expectations about the outcome of this initiative. At the same time, I have to mention that, for Chile, the achievement of our regional Convention on Principle 10 will serve as an instrument to support sustainable development, which is the final goal we all want to achieve.
But, we still have a lot work to do. It is important to stress the vital role of flexibility and generosity in the negotiations. Leaders need to show a long term and broad political vision if we really want to provide concrete answers. Otherwise we won’t be able to deliver at Rio.
Finally, how important is the role of civil society in the Rio process?
In Chile, we believe the inclusion of civil society in this process is essential. Through this view, we decided to include civil society in the discussions on the national position that has now been presented at the UN. We are working hand in hand with the civil society, demonstrating their importance to the Chilean governments on all these issues.