Rio+20 — the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 — is a historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all. Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 — a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection — the UN is again bringing together governments, international institutions and major groups1 to agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.
Rio+20 is a chance to move away from business as-usual and to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future.
Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Brundtland Commission (1987)
Why Do We Need
►The world now has 7 billion people — by 2050, there will be 9 billion.
► One out of every five people — 1.4 billion —currently lives on $1.25 a day or less.
► A billion and a half people in the world do not have access to electricity. Two and a half billion do not have a toilet. And almost a billion go hungry every day.
► Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and more than a third of all known species could go extinct if climate change continues unchecked.
► If we are to leave a liveable world to our children and grandchildren, the challenges of widespread poverty and environmental destruction need to be tackled now.
► We will incur far greater costs in the future — including more poverty and instability, and a degraded planet — if we fail to adequately address these critical challenges now.
► Rio+20 provides an opportunity to think globally, so that we can all act locally to secure our common future.
“Sustainable development is not an option! It is the only path that allows all of humanity to share a decent life on this, one planet. Rio+20 gives our generation the opportunity to choose this path.” Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the Rio+20 Conference
What Solutions Rio will Provide
Solutions for many sustainable development problems — including challenges related to cities, energy, water, food and ecosystems — are known.
At Rio+20, countries will seek ways to make them a reality by:
►Making the transition to greener economies while focusing on poverty eradication.
► Protecting our oceans from overfishing, the destruction of marine ecosystems and the adverse effects of climate change.
► Making our cities more liveable and more efficient.
► Broadening the use of renewable energy sources that can significantly lower carbon emissions as well as indoor and outdoor pollution, while promoting economic growth.
►Better managing forests to provide a broad range of benefits— reducing deforestation by half through 2030 could avoid an estimated US$ 3.7 trillion in climate change damages from greenhouse gas emissions — and that’s not counting the value of jobs and income, biodiversity, clean water and medicines provided by forests.
► Improving the way we conserve and manage our water resources, in order to promote development and guard against desertification.
Does Sustainable Development Work
Over the last two decades, there have been many examples of successful sustainable development in fields such as energy, agriculture, urban planning, and production and consumption:
► In Kenya, innovative finance mechanisms have stimulated new investments in renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, small hydro, biogas and municipal waste energy, generating income and employment.
► In China, steps to shift to a low-carbon growth strategy based on the development of renewable energy sources have created jobs, income and revenue streams for promising low-carbon industries.
► In Uganda, a transition to organic agriculture has generated revenue and income for smallholder farmers and benefited the economy, society and environment.
► In Brazil, a project under the Clean Development Mechanism was adopted in Sao Paulo to transform two of the city’s biggest waste dumpsites into sustainable landfills. From 2004 to September 2011, the landfills have avoided the release into the atmosphere of 352,000 tons of methane, which instead have been used to produce over one million megawatts of electricity.
► In Nepal, community forestry — led by local forest user groups — contributed to restoring forest resources after a steady decline in the 1990s.
► In Canada, EcoLogo — one of North America’s most respected environmental certification marks — has promoted thousands of products that meet rigorous environmental standards.
► In France, an estimated 90,000 jobs were created in green sectors between 2006 and 2008, mostly in the fields of energy conservation and the development of renewable energy.
► In Haiti, the Côte Sud Initiative is expected to benefit an estimated 205,000 people through the recovery and sustainable development of a severely degraded land area about half the
What will happen at Rio
►Thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders will gather in Rio at the end of May and beginning of June 2012 for a strong push towards sustainable development.
►The last session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference and the actual conference will take place there in June 2012. In parallel with and between the official events, there will be numerous side events, exhibitions, presentations, fairs and announcements by a wide range of partners.
►The official discussions will focus on two main themes: How to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty, including support for developing countries that will allow them to find a green path for development; and how to improve international coordination for sustainable development.
►Governments are expected to adopt clear and focused practical measures for implementing sustainable development, based on the many examples of success we have seen over the last 20 years.
Source: UNCSD 2012.org
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