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Britain must play honest broker at Rio +20

June 13 2012 - Britain should play the role of honest broker at the Rio+20 this week, to help ensure the conference delivers progress on the twin crises of extreme poverty and environmental degradation, Christian Aid urges.

UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will represent the UK government at the talks.

‘They will face an army of powerful vested interests including governments and industries in Rio all fighting for the morally and environmentally unsustainable status quo,’ said Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Sustainable Development.

'At the same time, other countries and campaigners are so impatient for radical change that they are bound to be disappointed.

‘Christian Aid urges the UK delegation to play the role of creative and honest broker between the two sides, to help Rio deliver a worthwhile outcome which can put the world on a far more sustainable and fair track.

‘More than a billion people live in extreme poverty with even their basic needs unmet while a wealthy minority are destroying the environment with their overconsumption. Humanity cannot afford Rio to be just a talking shop.

‘While it can be only a landmark on the path towards a just and sustainable world, it must deliver significant momentum to take us forward.’

For Rio to be a success, Christian Aid believes it must deliver the following:

• Countries should agree on a work plan which will produce a new set of global targets to take over from the existing Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015. The new goals should have sustainability, poverty eradication, equity and democratic governance at their heart.

• A Rio outcome document which puts a high political priority on the UN Secretary-General’s goal of universal access to sustainable energy; at present, some 1.4 billion people around the world have no electricity.

• The outcome document should also contain clear language on how the private sector must contribute to a fair and sustainable world. This should include a reference to the need for companies to be required legally to report on their role in sustainable development.

Christian Aid recently published a report, Equity in a Constrained World, which argues that in order to tackle global poverty and the environmental crisis, the world’s middle classes and wealthy must consume less, while people living in poverty should receive a fair share of the earth’s resources.

The report’s author, Dr Alison Doig, will be at the Rio+20 conference. To arrange interviews with her or colleagues from Christian Aid partner organisations who will also be in Rio, please contact Rachel Baird at rbaird@christian-aid.org or 07545 501 749.

Notes to Editors

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, helping people, regardless of faith or nationality, to build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty. Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 125 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk