Giant U.N. conference opens in Rio de Janeiro
The Rio+20 conference on sustainable development is expected to draw an estimated 50,000 participants including delegates, environmental activists, business leaders and members of indigenous groups.
The event runs through June 22, with three final days of high-profile talks among about 130 top leaders from nations around the globe.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was on hand for Wednesday’s inauguration at the massive conference center in a Rio suburb where the event is centered.
Rio+20 is a follow-up to an environmental summit held in Rio in 1992.
Sustainable development aims to find more environmentally healthy ways to achieve economic growth.
Twenty years after the first Earth Summit, a renewed bid to rally the world behind a common environmental blueprint opened Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro against a backdrop of discord and economic gloom.
Kicking off the so-called Rio+20 summit, Dilma Rousseff, president of host nation Brazil, called on “all countries of the world to commit” to reaching an accord that addresses the most pressing environmental and social woes.
The UN conference, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit — a landmark 1992 gathering that opened the debate on the future of the planet and its resources — is the largest ever organized, with 50,000 delegates.
Around 115 leaders are expected to attend the main event itself on June 20-22 but a series of conferences grouping businesses, environmental groups and non-governmental organizations are being held in advance.
This frenzy of contacts and deal-making could well be more fruitful than the UN Conference on Sustainable Development itself, analysts say, mindful of the failures of the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen.
Behind the scenes, there is incipient panic over the draft summit communique after three rounds of preliminary informal negotiations left more than 75 percent of the paragraphs still to be agreed.
The charter is supposed to sum up the challenges and spell out pledges to nurture the oceans, roll back climate change, promote clean growth and provide decent water, sanitation and electricity for all.
The biggest divergences lie in four areas, according to sources close to the negotiations.
They include action on climate change, protecting the oceans and achieving food security, and whether “Sustainable Development Goals” should replace the Millennium Development Goals when these objectives expire in 2015.
French dreams of creating a World Environment Organisation, for instance, are not expected to see the light of day. “At best there’ll be a bigger role for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),” said a senior European official.
A report released ahead of the gathering described an urgent need to tackle population growth and voracious consumption that are placing Earth’s resources under intolerable strain.
According to UN figures, global food demand will double by 2030 and energy consumption will soar by as much as 45 percent, putting mounting pressure on finite resources amid growing social inequality, water shortages and global warming.
Notably absent from the summit will be US President Barack Obama, who is facing a tough re-election race at home, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
To promote next June’s Rio+20 conference and the need for sustainable development, the United Nations launched a campaign engaging people in a global conversation on the kind of communities they would like to live in twenty years from now.
the massive hot air festival..sustainable and sustainability are the code words..you can clearly see that now..and what better way to pull on the heart strings than a nice video with cute kids in it..this is being run by NGO’s..the leaders only get there at the end to sign off on god knows what sort of internationally binding laws..