There is growing global sentiment that the era of grand multilateral treaty-making is over. Recurrent disputes over burden-sharing, and the specter of national vetoes, tends to tie negotiators into knots. Rather than seeking common ground–and often bland consensus—among 193 diverse countries, progress at major UN conferences will increasingly depend on individual countries coming to the table to declare what they are prepared to do, at a national level, to advance internationally-agreed goals. To this end, the United States is pressing all governments coming to Rio to arrive with a list of concrete commitments on the Rio agenda’s seven critical issues: decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans, and disaster readiness. The idea is to compile all of these national commitments in an online compendium.
by Stewart M. Patrick