This week global leaders will discuss issues relating to poverty, social equity, and environmental sustainability.
Rio+20, also known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or the Earth Summit, is taking place this week in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Preliminary meetings began last week, but the most high profile meetings are scheduled for June 20 to 22.
The conference will follow up on discussions that took place 20 years prior at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21—designed as a blueprint for sustainable development in economic growth, social equality, and environmental protection. This year world leaders, as well as thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs, and other groups will attend the discussion on how to reduce poverty, advance social equity, and ensure environmental sustainability.
According to the UNCED website, “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.”
What’s being discussed?
The conference will focus on two broader themes: “a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication” and “the institutional framework for sustainable development.”
The preparations for the summit have also identified seven key issues that require priority attention and will be the specific focuses for discussion:
- Jobs: The economic recession has brought an overall decrease in the number and quality of jobs around the world. In addressing these issues UNCED discussions also aim to find strategies to promote “green jobs” that promote sustainability of the environment.
- Energy: Access to energy is an issue that relates to job security, climate change, food production, and strengthening wages. Commitments to the environment will require significant investments in sustainable energy strategies that improve access to modern energy sources, improve efficiency, and increase the use of renewable sources.
- Cities: Many challenges exist to develop cities that can support dense populations, generate wealth, and aren’t taxing the environment. The many challenges involve access to funds for infrastructure, proper housing, and basic services.
- Food: UNCED estimates there are 925 million people without proper access to food. Providing proper access to food supplies is a priority, as well as ensuring decent working conditions for people in agriculture and protecting the environment.
- Water: The world has plenty of fresh water to support its growing population, but distribution is an issue. Much work needs to be done to reduce issues relating to supply, sanitation, and basic hygiene.
- Oceans: Our oceans are an essential resource for regulating our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and the air we breathe. The planet’s sustainability requires that we carefully mange our ocean resources.
- Disasters: Major disasters have taken a significant toll on communities around the world. Our resources and our ability to react to disastrous events depend on significant planning and coordination.
Keep up with news from the conference at the official United Nations event website and at the Earth Summit 2012 Stakeholder Forum page.
Interested in getting involved or making your voice heard? Check out the Earth Summit Get Involved page, which features initiatives such as Volunteer Action Counts—a campaign that will present a multi-media presentation based on the submitted actions of volunteers to the estimated 50,000 participants at the summit.