Energy and Environment: Asia-Europe seminar on nuclear safety in S'pore; UN Rio+20 summit next week

Updated On: Jun 13, 2012

Singapore is hosting the first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) seminar on nuclear safety from 13-15 June. Meanwhile, the United Nations Rio+20 conference is taking place next week between 20-22 June, but there are doubts on whether governments will be able to reach a meaningful agreement at the summit on key environmental issues.

Singapore Hosts 1st ASEM Seminar on Nuclear Safety

The ASEM seminar on nuclear safety will discuss issues around the theme "National, Regional and International Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response".

The three-day meeting is organised by Singapore in close collaboration with other ASEM partners, including the European Commission, Finland, France, Japan and Korea.

Singapore's Foreign and Law Minister K Shanmugam proposed holding a meeting on nuclear safety when the ASEM Foreign Ministers met last year.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March last year demonstrated that nuclear events can have widespread cross-border impacts, meaning that nuclear safety is an important issue even for countries without nuclear power plants.

Report: Singapore to host meeting on nuclear safety [Channel NewsAsia, 12 June 2012]

Disagreements Ahead of Rio+20

Meanwhile, leaders and top officials will gather in Brazil next week between 20-22 June for the United Nations Rio+20 conference, marking the 20th anniversary of the original Earth Summit that first popularised the concept of 'sustainable development'.

Singapore Ambassador Tommy Koh, one of the SIIA's founders, was a key figure at the original Earth Summit, chairing the preparatory and main committees. The 1992 Rio Earth Summit resulted in landmark conventions on climate change and biodiversity.

At this year's summit, countries are hoping to create a new blueprint for a green economy. The draft agreement aims to improve energy, water and food security in poorer countries, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and boost ocean protection.

But with just days to go before the formal summit, negotiators have yet to agree on most of the draft agreement's text. According to the BBC, the United States and the G77/China bloc of developing nations have objected to many key clauses. Russia, Japan and the EU have also registered objections.

There is also disagreement over the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs), which would seek to help developing countries along environmentally and socially sustainable lines. Some aid agencies fear this will result in a watering down of the key commitment to helping people out of poverty, contained in the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Meanwhile, there is widespread disappointment among activists that many Western leaders including the UK's David Cameron, Germany's Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama have chosen not to attend the conference. In their likely absence, the political weight will be tilted towards the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all of which will be represented by national leaders.

Report: Nations at odds on Rio+20 earth summit [BBC News, 12 June 2012]

Report: Rio+20 conference's search for green solutions hampered by deep divisions [The Guardian, 12 June 2012]


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