Farooq Ullah is Editorial Advisor at the Stakeholder Forum. He is also a Specialist Advisor to the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee and a member of the Alliance for Future Generations.
What are your overall impressions about the Rio + 20 Conference? Were the gains commensurate to the energy and resources spent?
It is too simplistic to declare Rio+20 an utter failure or a roaring success. It is important to look deeper than a superficial assessment to understand what really happened. Sustainable development is complex; I wish it were easier. There are, without a doubt, some successes that must be celebrated, minor though they may be.
Rio+20 launched numerous processes. It is the outcomes and success of these processes which will be the ultimate judge of the success of Rio+20.
How is the Stakeholder Forum planning to follow-up on the decisions made at Rio + 20?
Stakeholder Forum is planning much follow-up work to Rio+20, particularly on the Sustainable Development Goals, the intergovernmental process on Mobilisation of Resources, the Green Economy and Corporate Sustainability.
Moreover, we are working to engage stakeholders in the Rio+20 follow-up. We are also partnering with the UN and the Green Economy Coalition to host a stakeholder event regarding Rio+20 follow-up activities (Oct 20/21 in New York).
What is your overall evaluation of the level of civil society participation in the decision-making processes for Rio + 20?
Civil Society participation was high. The real question is whether they had an influence on the outcomes of Rio+20. This is highly debatable. However, there are bright spots which are worth noting. For example, the Rio+20 Bureau's decision inviting all stakeholders in the world to contribute to the Zero Draft of the Rio+20 outcome document.
What happens now that governments have agreed to a comprehensive outcome document from Rio + 20?
As mentioned above, Rio+20 was not an end-point. It was the launching pad of numerous new processes. Therefore, stakeholder engagement needs to continue and improve within these processes. There are challenges which must be overcome. For example, many of these processes are within the General Assembly, where there is no formal arragement for stakeholder/Major Group participation in decision-making.
Farooq Ullah became Editorial Advisor at Stakeholder Forum as of September 2011. Simultaneously, he is also Specialist Advisor to the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee and a member of the Alliance for Future Generations. Prior to this position, he was at the UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) for nearly five years. Farooq worked on strategic assessment at the SDC, where he was responsible for analysing public policy, sustainable operations and procurement, strategy, governance and decision-making towards the improvement of sustainable performance within the UK Government. Farooq has eight years of public sector experience at international, national and local government levels, as well as private sector consultancy experience. Additionally, he is a founding member of Brighter Future; a climate-change action group in London.