The European Economic and Social Committee yesterday organised an event on the margins of Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro and stressed the absolute need to put in place genuine mechanisms for dialogue and democratic participation in the transition process to a green economy and sustainable societies. Participants discussed various models of civil society participation in sustainable development from local to global level. Institutional approaches such as those being pursued by the EESC and the Brazilian CDES were considered, as were consultation rights of citizens and access to information as provided for in the Aarhus Convention.
“What the EU has brought to Rio from Brussels is the way in which we in the European Union integrate dialogue with our social partners and civil society into our decision-making process” said European Commission president José Manuel Barroso at the opening of the event. “Platforms that bring stakeholders together, like the EESC, have a crucial role to play in engaging civil society in dialogue, both inside and outside Europe. They can also provide the basis for sustainable development observatories that enjoy broad ownership,” he added.
“One of our main messages is that the EU and all other international stakeholders must effectively involve social partners and other civil society structures in the Rio+20 follow-up that is designed to secure the transition towards a new green economic order. The road from Rio is as important as the road to Rio has been up to now”, said Staffan Nilsson, EESC president and leader of the EESC delegation at Rio+20 summit.
There was broad agreement during the debate that governments set the frame for a change towards sustainable development and a green economy. However, governments alone will not achieve what they have agreed without the commitment of businesses, industry, workers’ organisations and all other civil society stakeholders. Platforms for dialogue and participation such as economic and social councils and councils for sustainable development at national and regional level have proved to be effective and must continue to rise to the challenges ahead.
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