France’s new socialist president-elect François Hollande and recently reinstalled Russian President Vladimir Putin have confirmed to Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, that they will attend Rio+20, the UN’s upcoming summit on sustainable development – and fourth such big event since 1972, which was last held in Rio in 1992 – then dubbed Eco’92.
Both will take time out of their hectic domestic schedules – despite Hollande being up to his elbows in re-Lefty-ing France – to many people’s joy and others’ utter terror, and Putin busy trying to ignore ongoing protests at home led by restive Russians unhappy at his returning to the presidency – probably now until 2024.
UPDATE: Putin has now said he’s not going to the G8 meeting (which was “upgraded” from G7 to G8 specifically to include Russia!), where it was widely thought he’d be making his “comeback” to the world stage. Bit of a slap in the face, I reckon, that instead he’s going to Mexico for the G20 and then straight on to Brazil for Rio+20. You decide…
EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have also said they’re coming to Rio+20 – but I doubt an eyelid was batted at those announcements. Sorry…
More importantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be attending, and neither will British Prime Minister David Cameron – who’s sending Nick Clegg in his stead – despite the summit being moved so as not to coincide with the Queen’s 60th Jubilee.
But Brazil knows Cleggy – he was sent last year to reinvigorate UK-Brazil ties and double UK trade with the South American leader – and new 6th world economy (just don’t mention it was Brazil that pushed the UK down to #7).
No word yet on whether Barack Obama is coming, or anyone from China for that matter – both of which are of course crucial to any negotiation on global sustainable development and the “green and social economies” that the summit is aiming for the 100+ leaders to agree on, along with the eradicating poverty and protecting the environment.
Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs isn’t commenting as it’s apparently not their business, nor their responsibility, to know who will or won’t turn up for a UN summit – which makes sense, but they might want to be a bit more overt in their caring for the event as it is, of course, widely seen as a kind of “dummy run” for Rio, to see if the city can cope with the influx of guests it will see for this event – and then even more so for the World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016).
Brazil is getting a taste for being in the spotlight – and the government is surely going to make the most of having scores of high-profile world leaders at its finger tips for a few days. I wonder how many deals will be hammered out during the conference – I mean business deals on the sidelines, of course. Cynical of me, of course – but there you go.
Whether you think these UN summits actually do anything positive for poverty-stricken countries, the environment, the seas and oceans, or sustainable development – the big buzz words for these conferences – and actually make countries like the US and China change the way they roll – well, that’s another matter entirely.
Anyway – lots more on Rio+20 to come, fear not!