Richard Lemmer | 20.06.12
Today marks the official start of the Rio+20 conference, a landmark event in sustainable development. Officially called the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, it will be the largest United Nations conference ever. Over 130 Heads of States will be attending - an increase of 22 Heads of State from Rio 1992 conference. President Hu of China will be going, a very encouraging sign as China rivals the US as the world’s biggest emitter of CO2. Roughly 20,000 members of civil society delegates will also be attending.
There will also be hundreds of journalists attending the event, and no end of news stories and updates. To prevent a case of information overload, there are several reporters worth focusing on:
- The Guardian will be going above and beyond the call of duty to provide the bigger picture and the finer details. Jo Confino (@joconfino) will be providing a diary of the event, whilst Adam Vaughan will be running the live blog, sifting and highlighting the best coverage.
- John Parnell (@rtcc_John) and Ed King (@rtcc_edking) are providing rolling coverage with great videos, which can be found on the Responding to Climate Change website.
- Hannah Ryder, winner of this year’s Observer Ethical Award for best blog, will be part of the official UK delegation: her blog can be found here and her twitter username is @hmryder. You find the full list of the UK delegation here.
What will be the outcome of this landmark event? The conference is going to be focusing on two major themes: how we create a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and how we organise the world’s institutions to create sustainable development. Hopefully, the heads of state will agree on a document that will be called the ‘The Future We Want.’ This will outline how a new global network of sustainable economies will work.
At the same time, Rio is hosting the People’s Summit, an alternative to the world leaders’ conference. The People’s Summit - funded by the Brazilian government to the tune of £5m - is supported by Greenpeace and Oxfam, and it will feature over 200 civil society groups. A rally of 50,000 people is expected to mark the end of this alternative summit. Already we are seeing members of the People’s Summit capture the world’s imagination, with 350.org’s #endfossilfuelsubsidies. It’s not every day that a complex argument about energy policy can out tweet the #justbieber hash tag.
Rio+20 shows that we are on the verge of dealing with the most pressing issues of the 21st century. While progress may be painfully slow, in 20 years we have seen the sustainable growth movement grow from being a fringe issue to being the gold new standard for businesses, governments and peoples across the globe. This is an achievement in its own right, and whilst we must be patient to see its results and we must not be complacent about its direction, we should celebrate the hard work that is beginning to challenge the problems facing the planet. Hopefully, Rio+40 will an overview of global sustainable development as a successful universal practise.
All eyes are on Rio, as time is running out and resources are further depleted, it is crucial that we get an international framework in place to ensure a more sustainable future ahead.
Visit our site on Friday to see our Storify round-up of the best Rio+20 coverage.
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