The Sustainable Development Summit Río+20 had two objectives within which sustainable use discussions were evidently cross-cutting. More than 50,000 people flew to Ríoto participate in state and civil society debates concerning:

  1. Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
  2. The institutional framework for sustainable development.

For those of us who were present in the meeting, the governmental discussions seemed particularly sterile, which is evident in the final document that was approved and that can be seen on the conference web site, This document has several gaps, principally the absence of clear commitments for the implementation of the intentions expressed, the conscious exclusion of women’s reproductive rights and thresholds to push governments to a compromise to minimize climate change and to look for alternatives to green economy, with no goals and timelines.

It is not in this part of the meeting where I believe we should remember the discussion for future sustainable use. I will use two important discussions that occurred in the Peoples Summit for this. These parallel and alternative discussions permitted us to return to our countries with the clear message that sustainable use of resources is the bridge needed to integrate quality of life with conservation efforts.

1. Vandana Shiva, Seeds Freedom movement (No to biopiracy)
This was a motivating and interactive discussion space with the Indian physicist who has been fighting for peoples, peasants and womens' rights. Her presentation made it clear that biodiversity is the key to food security, that the dominant system of food production and agriculture is destroying our planet and that the best example that we have of this biodiversity is the seed - as a way of life and as the initial principle of the food chain. She asked for action and commitment against biopiracy and support for the movement “Seed freedom”. Her position in synthesis was that seed control means control over our lives, our food and our liberty (for further information, email:

2. Dialogue on the human rights approach in fisheries in particular access rights to the resource and territory, organized by the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF). (N.B. see article on FAO Tenure Guidelines by Chandrika Sharma of ICSF elsewhere in this edition of SULiNews - Eds.)
This activity had as its main objective to discuss questions which relate to the human rights of artisanal fishers around the world with special emphasis on:

  • Territorial rights (both in land and sea).
  • FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Small Scale Fishers.
  • Marine Protected Areas of interest to Artisanal Fishers.

These discussions open the debate towards the new challenges of our planet concerning access to natural resources and territory, food security and sovereignty, and community-based governance of marine and continental protected areas, all themes of fundamental importance for the discussion concerning sustainable use. We were then able to make sense of the sterile discussions coming from the governmental representatives, to bring to debate the clear and strong voices of indigenous and local community representatives who advance in their intentions to work in practice towards a human rights approach to conservation, and new values and alliances for the future.

I believe this is the reason why Río+20 was worth it.

Vivienne Solis Rivera, CoopeSoliDar R.L (CEESP/ SULi)