Rio +20 will take place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012. The Conference marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (UN Conference on Environment and Development) and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
The objective of the Conference is to: “secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges”.
Rio +20 will focus on two themes:
- A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication
- The institutional framework for sustainable development.
Within the Conference themes, seven critical issues will be in the spotlight:
- Jobs – how best to create meaningful employment that is respectful of the natural environment for the millions of unemployed and a growing labour market
- Energy – how to enable universal access to sustainable energy solutions while driving efficiency improvements and usage of renewable resources
- Cities – how to overcome the challenges cities face (e.g. congestion, declining infrastructure etc) so that they flourish at the same time as preserving natural resources and reducing pollution and poverty
- Food – how to bring about change in the global food and agriculture system so that food distribution is more equitable and food production is less harmful to the environment
- Water – how to ensure the world’s fresh water resources are protected and made accessible to every country
- Oceans – how to manage the world’s oceans to ensure that they can continue their vital role of making earth fit for human habitation
- Disasters – how to prepare for and become more resilient as natural disasters increase in frequency and severity.
Local governments are key players in helping to drive forward the sustainable development agenda, particularly in cities, which are the focus of one of the main themes for Rio +20. This was recognised 20 years ago at the Earth Summit with the announcement of Agenda 21 which inspired local governments and communities to put in place Local Agenda 21 strategies and actions for sustainable development. The urban dimension was also referenced in a number of the commitments made at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, as well as in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Local government input to the Conference and associated events and initiatives is being coordinated by the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, the network that is acting as the Local Government Major Group organising partner. In this role, the ICLEI is responsible for:
- Advocacy by participating in official UN preparatory meetings and representing the position of cities – this has included preparing a submission for the Rio +20 zero draft (released early January 2012), which is a compilation of the intellectual contributions of member states as well as other stakeholders. The key policy messages in the ICLEI submission were:
- Bend the trends – examine long-term trends to understand how best to manage global trends such as population growth, global warming and biodiversity loss
- Green urban economy – essential given the global trend for urbanisation
- Local government stakeholders – important to involve them to help achieve sustainable development governance at the global level
- Leading the Local Sustainability 2012 global study which will inform the local government contribution to Rio +20
- Bringing local leaders together before and at the Conference – a matter of days before Rio +20, ICLEI is hosting its triennial World Congress to showcase local government work on advancing sustainability and explore what the future opportunities and challenges might be. The Rio +20 Global Town Hall will be the ICLEI’s main event at the Conference, with a range of opportunities for local leaders, conference delegates, international organisations and businesses to meet up and discuss the urban future.
© Article 13 - January 2012
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