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Progress on the Sidelines as Rio Conference Ends

RIO DE JANEIRO — Burdened by low expectations, snarled by endless traffic congestion and shunned by President Obama, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ended here as it began, under a shroud of withering criticism.

里约热内卢——联合国可持续发展大会(United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) 在低期望值中进行,被没完没了的交通堵塞搅局,为奥巴马总统所避忌。它的开幕和结束一样,都被包围在猛烈的批评声中。

The antipoverty organization CARE called the meeting “nothing more than a political charade,” and Greenpeace said the gathering was “a failure of epic proportions.” The Pew Environment Group was slightly more charitable. “It would be a mistake to call Rio a failure,” the group said, “but for a once-in-a-decade meeting with so much at stake, it was a far cry from a success.”

反贫困组织CARE称大会“就是个政治把戏”,绿色和平组织(Greenpeace)则称大会是“史诗级别的失败”。皮尤环境组织(Pew Environment Group)稍微仁慈一点,说“将里约峰会称为失败是错误的,但对一个关系重大、十年一度的会议来说,它距离成功相差甚远。”

But while the summit meeting’s 283-paragraph agreement, called “The Future We Want,” lacks enforceable commitments on climate change and other global challenges, the outcome reflects big power shifts around the world. These include a new assertiveness by developing nations in international forums and the growing capacity of grass-roots organizations and corporations to mold effective environmental action without the blessing of governments.

峰会达成的协议名为《我们憧憬的未来》(The Future We Want)。该文件长达283个段落,却在气候变化和其他全球问题上缺乏具有法律效力的承诺。尽管如此,会议成果反映了世界范围内的权力格局巨变。这种变化包括发展中国家在国际舞台上展现的全新主动性,以及在没有政府帮助的情况下,草根组织和企业机构采取有效环保行动的能力日益增长。

The Obama administration offered no grand public gestures here, opting to focus on smaller-scale development projects like clean cookstoves and local energy projects.


Europe, traditionally the driving force behind environmental action yet distracted now by efforts to contain a financial crisis, was considerably more active than the United States, taking part in nearly every corner of the sprawling conference, called Rio+20 to commemorate the anniversary of the first Earth Summit held here in 1992.

传统上,欧洲一直驱动环境行动,尽管目前为控制金融危机的努力所累,仍然比美国活跃得多。为了纪念1992年在里约热内卢进行的“地球峰会”(Earth Summit)二十周年,本次的宏大会议叫做“里约+20”。欧洲出现在大会的几乎每个角落。

“Probably those who are most frustrated, and who say they are frustrated, are the Europeans,” André Corrêa do Lago, Brazil’s chief negotiator at Rio+20, said in an interview. “They think they can still indicate paths which others should follow.”

“大概,心里最为沮丧的就是欧洲人了,他们自己也公开这样表示,”在一次采访中,“里约+20”的巴西首席谈判代表安德烈·科雷亚·多拉戈(André Corrêa do Lago)这样说道。“他们仍然认为应该是自己指路别人跟随。”

The sheer size of the gathering — nearly 50,000 participants including more than 100 heads of state or government — may have raised expectations, in spite of the mixed record of previous such gatherings. The first Rio summit meeting produced two landmark treaties, on climate change and biodiversity, that have so far failed to live up to their promises.

尽管之前大型会议的结果好坏参半,里约峰会的规模——近5万参会者,包括100多个国家元首或政府首脑——可能在会前抬高了期望值。 二十年前的第一次里约峰会在两个领域达成了里程碑式的协议:气候变化和生物多样性。不过到目前为止,这两个协议都未能达到人们的预期。

Yet despite this record, the activity outside the main negotiating sessions here produced hundreds of side agreements that do not require ratification or direct financing by governments and that offer the promise of incremental but real progress.


“Even a complicated, diverse world can address problems not through treaties, but by identifying the goals that then inspire decentralized actions,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

“即便是在一个复杂多样的世界里,也可以通过确定目标、分散行动的方式来解决问题,而不是通过法律条约,”哥伦比亚大学地球研究所(Earth Institute at Columbia University) 所长杰弗里·萨克斯(Jeffrey D. Sachs)说。

For instance, Microsoft said it would roll out an internal carbon fee on its operations in more than 100 countries, part of a plan to go carbon-neutral by 2013. The Italian oil giant Eni said it would reduce its flaring of natural gas. Femsa, a Latin American soft-drink bottler, said it would obtain 85 percent of its energy needs in Mexicofrom renewable sources.


In fact, Microsoft expects to achieve carbon neutrality sometime in 2013.


The Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, already experiencing dangerous sea-level rise, announced what it said would become the world’s largest marine reserve, encompassing all 1,192 of its islands by 2017. A group of development banks announced a $175 billion initiative to promote public transportation and bicycle lanes over road and highway construction in the world’s largest cities.


But the ubiquity of corporate and financial sponsorship made some uneasy.


“If George Orwell were alive today, he would be irritated, and then shocked, by the cynical way in which every lobby with an ax to grind and money to burn has hitched its wagon to the alluring phrase ‘sustainable development,’ ” said Jagdish N. Bhagwati, a professor of economics at Columbia, in an essay called “Rio’s Unsustainable Nonsense.”

哥伦比亚大学的经济学教授贾格迪什·巴格瓦蒂(Jagdish N. Bhagwati)写了一篇名为《不可持续的里约荒诞剧》(Rio’s Unsustainable Nonsense)的文章,他说“如果乔治·奥威尔(George Orwell)还在世,他会感到愤怒而震惊,每项别有用心、大把撒钱的游说都给自己封上‘可持续发展’这一诱人字眼,这太具讽刺意味了。”

Still, some with decades of experience with such summit meetings take a more nuanced view. Thomas Lovejoy, an American conservation biologist who was a driving force behind the first Earth Summit in 1992, said he remained discouraged by the lack of action in reducing carbon emissions.

尽管如此,一些有几十年这类峰会经验的人持有的观点更为平和。美国生态保护学家托马斯·洛夫乔伊(Thomas Lovejoy)曾是1992年“地球峰会”背后的推动力量,他说自己仍然为缺乏削减碳排放的行动感到气馁。

But Mr. Lovejoy, who began working in the Amazon in 1965, also said he could recognize how some important progress had been made, especially in Brazil, since then.


“There was one national forest and one demarcated indigenous reserve,” said Mr. Lovejoy, 70. “Now, 50 percent is under some form of protection.”


Brazil, with command over its vast forests as well as an estimated 12 percent of the world’s fresh water, remains crucial to any international preservation efforts. The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon recently fell to its lowest level since record-keeping began in 1988.


Still, others who came here for the conference, like the indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire, 82, a chief of Brazil’s Kayapó tribe, said such advances meant little. He said he found himself emphasizing the same things he spoke about at the original Earth Summit in 1992.

虽说如此,另外一些参会人员,比如巴西卡亚波(Kayapó)部落的酋长拉奥尼·梅图蒂雷(Raoni Metuktire)却说,这些进步无足轻重。他还说,发现自己现在强调的东西跟1992年“地球峰会”上说的一模一样。

“Deforestation continues,” said Mr. Metuktire, who is normally referred to as Raoni, through an interpreter. “The river is having dams built into it; the people don’t listen,” he said. “They don’t respect me.”

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