By Narayani Ganesh
Editor’s note: 300 parliamentarians from 80 countries meet up before Rio+20. Find out what’s new.
Every which way you turn, you bump into a legislator –- from Botswana, Gabon, Bahrain, Pakistan, Australia, Japan, Costa Rica, USA, Sweden, UK or India, to name a few -- for the ornate hall here at the Palacio Tiradentes in Rio de Janeiro is brimming with legislators, speakers and others from 80 countries with delegates and media persons attending the proceedings that began on June 15. It’s the old building that was used by the National Congress of Brazil, between 1926 and 1960, and is the current seat of the Legislature of the State of Rio de Janeiro. The palace is named after a seventeenth century dentist (Tiradentes) who later became a revolutionary, only to be arrested, executed and dismembered.
The summit, organised by GLOBE International, a UK and Costa Rica-based group seeks to place national legislation, natural capital and scrutiny at the heart of the Rio agenda. This is the first World Summit of Legislators – but there have been several meetings of legislators before – convening here from June 15-17. Over 300 Speakers of Parliaments, Presidents of Congresses and Senates and senior legislators will be in attendance from parliaments across the world.
What are our MPs doing?
Prakash Javadekar, BJP MP who is here with colleagues Bhuvaneshwar Kalita and Sanjay Nirupam (Congress), Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP) and Vivek Gupta (Trinamool) has this to say: “I have been attending GLOBE’s legislators’ meetings for seven years now. They are doing a great job of educating parliamentarians on understanding specific issues and facets of environment in a democratic manner. This makes legislators become proactive in their countries when it is necessary to enact legislation to deal with important issues that impact the environment.” And what is the flip side? “Well there could be a bias towards highlighting issues that impact Europe as there is a tendency to view the world through a European prism. However, I must say that once a subject comes up for discussion, it is dealt with in a democratic manner without bias.”
The World Summit of Legislators will mark the beginning of a new international process for legislators dedicated to establishing a mechanism that scrutinises and monitors governments on the delivery of the original Rio agenda as well as commitments to be made at Rio+20.
Speaking at the announcement of the Summit, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon reiterated: “Parliamentarians have a profound influence. You enact legislation. You approve budgets. You are at the heart of democratic governance. And in today’s increasingly interconnected world, you are also a link between the global and local — bringing local concerns into the global arena, and translating global standards into national action. I welcome your engagement in the process.”
Core objectives of the World Summit of Legislators
According to office bearers of Globe International, the World Summit of Legislators’ core objectives are:
Scrutiny: Recognising the role of legislators in monitoring and scrutinising the work of government, the Summit will establish an international mechanism to monitor implementation of commitments by governments made at Rio+20. The Summit will develop a set of Rio Scrutiny Principles in order to strengthen legislators' capacity to hold governments to account;
Legislation: Recognising the role of legislators in developing and passing laws, the Summit will provide a platform to advance and share best legislative practice as well as to develop a mechanism within international processes that can recognise national legislation;
Natural Capital: Recognising the role of parliaments in many countries to approve budgets and national accounts, the Summit will examine how the value of natural capital can be integrated within our national economic frameworks to enable legislators to better monitor the use of natural capital.
GLOBE President, John Gummer, said: "The World Summit of Legislators will, for the first time, create a proper mechanism for legislators to not only monitor delivery by governments of their commitments but also to support implementation of the UN process through national legislation. Both scrutiny and legislation were key missing ingredients from the original Rio Summit 20 years ago."
Expected Key Outcome: A key outcome of the first World Summit of Legislators will be a Rio+20 Legislators Protocol that will be negotiated during the Summit and will be based on the three summit objectives.
The Summit was formally opened by Mayor Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of the host City of Rio de Janeiro.
So do ask your MP when he or she is back, what exactly they’ll do to put some of the above ideas into practice.
The author can be contacted at email@example.com
This article is in partnership with Federation of Environmental Journalists of India.
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