Order in the global economic assistance framework is changing with the rapid growth of newly emerging economies represented by China and the stagnation of advanced nations such as Japan, the United States and Europe.
Twenty years have passed since the Earth Summit, formally known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, was held in Brazil, bringing together world leaders to discuss how to achieve sustainable development.
Now, economic growth and environmental protection cannot be discussed within a simple framework made up of the advanced economies and developing nations.
At the time of the Earth Summit, the Group of Seven advanced economies, including Japan and the United States, accounted for about 70 percent of the world's gross domestic product. However, last year, the GDP of those seven nations fell below half of the world total.
Meanwhile, China and India now rank first and third in the world in terms of carbon dioxide emissions that are considered a major cause of global warming.
Twenty years ago, Japan was the world's largest provider of economic aid. However, in fiscal 2011, the budget for official development assistance had fallen to half of the peak level. Other advanced nations also no longer have the leeway to provide such aid.
At the Earth Summit, an agreement was reached to have advanced nations achieve a "contribution ratio" of 0.7 percent of gross national income for ODA expenditures.
In fact, only a few nations have achieved that objective, with the average ratio at only 0.46 percent in 2011. That has led to distrust among developing nations, which feel the advanced nations have not lived up to their promises.
Under such circumstances, the Rio+20 summit begins in Rio de Janeiro on June 20. Leaders from 120 nations will convene as well as about 50,000 participants in total.
A major theme will be bringing about a green economy that combines environmental protection with economic growth.
Preliminary negotiations, however, have brought to light a sharp divergence of opinion between advanced economies and developing nations.
The newly emerging economies and developing nations argue that advanced economies that achieved their growth through massive consumption of natural resources should first fulfill their responsibility to provide economic assistance.
Some countries are wary about pursuing a green economy because they equate it with a lack of progress in development.
For their part, advanced nations are calling on newly emerging economies to finally face up to their responsibilities as well.
The depletion of natural resources and global warming are trends that demonstrate the fast approaching limits to growth. However, negotiations at the Rio+20 summit are not expected to be smooth.
The conference will be a test on whether the world can bring together the knowledge necessary to move toward the creation of a green economy.
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