From 20-22 June 2012, the United Nations convened the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, hosted by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.
Rio+20 was tipped to be one of the main development events of 2012, and the biggest environmental summit in 20 years. The conference was a follow-up to the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that was held in the same city.
Researchers from the IDS-coordinated STEPS Centre believe there are several fundamentally important issues at stake: that meeting the interlinked global challenges of poverty reduction, social justice and environmental sustainability are the great moral and political imperatives of our age. And that science, technology and innovation of many kinds have essential roles to play in achieving these goals.
STEPS Centre and IDS Climate Change Team members are working on several initiatives for the Rio+20 process and beyond. Updates of their activities will be posted here and on the STEPS Centre website and STEPS blog.
Beyond Rio Resource Centre
The Beyond Rio Resource Centre details experts, publications and other resources from IDS, the STEPS Centre SPRU and University of Sussex aligned to the two themes and seven critical issues identified by the UN for Rio+20
High-Level Dialogue on Global Sustainability
IDS Fellow and STEPS Centre director Melissa Leach was a High-level Participant in the High-level Dialogue on Global Sustainability: Tipping the scales towards sustainability – The Future We Choose, organised by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) Fundaçao Brasileira para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável and The Elders.
Based on key messages developed at the previous Nobel Laureates Symposia and the GSP report, the daialogues in Rio resulted in a declaration, The Future We Choose, consisting of a science-based message on global sustainability being presented to decision-makers, civil society and the media. This declaration highlights the importance of a science-based approach to sustainable development and the need for policy and decision-makers to acknowledge science if the world chooses a more sustainable path.
During the closed High-Level Dialogue on 17 June Melissa made contributions for the Declaration alongside others including Tarja Halonen and Jim Leape. Melissa contributed ideas around innovation and the importance of direction, distribution and diversity.
The Declaration was was then presented formally to the Executive Co-ordinator of Rio+20, Brice Lalonde, in an open dialogue session in RioCentro, and discussed publicly in a day-long session on 18 June at which speakers included Gro Harlem Brundtland, Rajendra Pachauri, several nobel laureates, and a debate involving youth representatives. A representative from the High-Level Panel will be present at each of four roundtable discussions during the Rio+20 summit itself to feed in key messages from the declaration.
Rio+20 – science, politics and environment
Q. and A.: The Dark Side to ‘Green’ Transactions by Joanna M. Foster, New York Times (20 June 2012)
The dark side of the green economy: ‘Green grabbing’ by Melissa Leach, Al Jazeera (20 June 2012)
Homegrown solutions ‘crucial to sustainable development’ by Ochieng Ogodo, Scidev.net (18 June 2012)
Science and politics at Rio and beyond by Melissa Leach and Adrian Ely, Outreach magazine (14 July 2012)
Science, politics and the post-Rio+20 agenda by Melissa Leach and Adrian Ely, Huffington Post (14 June 2012)
Environmental goals affect local population by Jonathan Witteman, De Volkskrant, (13 June 2012) English translation, pdf / Milieudoel treft lokale bevolking original article in Dutch, pdf
Rio+20 series for the Guardian’s Global Development site
Rio+20 must make inclusive innovation stepping stone to a sustainable future by Adrian Smith and Adrian Ely (18 June 2012)
Edge of sustainability: why Rio+20 mustn’t ignore people on city fringe by Fiona Marshall and Lyla Mehta (4 May 2012)
Why Rio+20 must not leave the politics out of sustainable development by Melissa Leach (5 March 2012)
Achieving universal energy access by Rob Byrne and Jim Watson (21 February 2012)
It’s time for sustainable development by Julia Day (3 January 2012)
Single-track sustainability ‘solutions’ threaten people and planet, 14 June 2012
Green grabs: the dark side of the green economy, 14 June 2012
Activities in the run up to Rio
Contribution to the Rio+20 Zero draft
The STEPS Centre has contributed to the Rio+20 zero draft outcome document.
Green Economy Coalition
The STEPS Centre is a member of the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), a diverse set of organisations who recognise that our economy is failing to deliver either environmental sustainability or social equity. We have contributed to the GEC's inputs to the Rio+20 process.
IDS/STEPS co-convened the Rio Dialogues space on ‘sustainable development for fighting poverty’. Adrian Ely presented the final report in Rio on 16 June (pdf 479kb)
Sustainable Business in India: challenges for Rio+20 We organised a conference with IIMB and Infosys in India to discuss sustainable business futures
A special issue of Water Alternatives: Water grabbing? Focus on the (re)appropriation of finite water resources. Guest editors: Lyla Mehta (STEPS water and sanitation convenor), Gert Jan Veldwisch and Jennifer Franco
Planet Under Pressure Conference
The STEPS Centre convened and took part in a variety of sessions at this London conference, being seen as a major stepping stone to Rio.
See more about our activities at Planet Under Pressure.
- Debate in Brighton: Who’s going to save the planet? On 17 May we organised a public debate with the STEPS Centre as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival, with a panel of experts including Caroline Lucas MP. Event details: Who’s going to save the planet?
Activities at Rio+20, June 2012
- 15 June
- Adrian Smith keynote speech grassroots innovations for sustainable development / Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption.
- Melissa Leach: To Cross a Widening Gulf: New Patterns and Practices of Science for Sustainability/ ICSU Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development
- STEPS Centre and Stockholm Resilience Centre-convened session ‘Transforming Innovation for Sustainability’ within the ‘Fair Ideas’ event. Speakers: Glauco Arbix (Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology), Lidia Brito (UNESCO), Melissa Leach (STEPS Centre), Johan Rockstrom (Stockholm Resilience Centre), Kevin Urama (African Technology Policy Studies Network).
- STEPS Centre's Rob Bryne took part in Access to energy: Beyond 2012 / Fair Ideas
- Green Economy Coalition session Making Ideas Happen, Implementing the principles for a green economy / Fair Ideas.
- Melissa Leach took part in the Open High-level Dialogue on Global Sustainability: Tipping the scales towards sustainability – The Future We Choose.
- 18 June
- Adrian Smith presented a paper on grassroots innovation for development to the conference of the International Society of Ecological Economists, whose topic in Rio is ‘Challenges and Contributions to a Green Economy’.
Video: Hopes for Rio+20
We asked people - practitioners, activists, academics, journalists, business people – to tell us what sustainable development issue they wanted to see addressed at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June. We collected responses at events including World Water Forum and Planet Under Pressure with Professor Bina Agarwal, journalist Fred Pearce and Oxfam's Phil Bloomer among those giving us their one big hope for Rio+20. Here are a selection of the responses. You can also contribute your own messages for Rio+20 and beyond by commenting on the STEPS Centre blog or by getting in touch.
Edge of sustainability: why Rio+20 mustn't ignore people on city fringe
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