Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rio+20: the Future We Want

We are living in exceptional times. For climate change activists the last few decades have been ‘the best of times’ and ‘the worst of times’. While the world saw unprecedented efforts for environmental protection leading to many ongoing developments; our awareness on the need to take action and mitigate climate change has risen faster than our capacity to do so. 
Severn Cullis-Suzuki, then just 12 years old, addressing the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro said “I have no hidden agenda; I’m fighting for my future.” We cannot afford failure for if we don’t act today, our tomorrows will be at stake. 
What are Rio+20?

The Global Community will meet in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 to define a plan for the future we want in terms of sustainable development. The 3 main objectives of the Rio+20 Conference are: securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges.  

The preparation for Rio+20 is an on-going country-led process coordinated by the United Nations for over two years, including 3 rounds of Preparatory Committee Meetings, Intercessional Meetings and Informal Consultations. The resulting inputs were compiled to serve as a basis for the zero draft of the Rio+20 outcome document.  At the Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet. It’s a chance to move away from business as usual, to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future. 
Why do we need Rio+20?

2012 is the first year to awaken to a world population of 7 billion, and by 2050 it is predicted that there will be as many as 9 billion earthlings. With considerable implications for sustainability, urbanisation, access to health services and youth empowerment, a world of 7 billion also offers a rare call for renewing global commitment to a healthy and sustainable world for all. Statistics show that one out of every five people – 1.4 billion – currently lives on $1.25 a day or less, that almost a billion people go to bed hungry every day and that more than a third of all known species will go extinct if climate change continues unchecked. Rio+20 provides an opportunity to think globally, so that we can all act locally to secure our common future.

At Home, the 2009 documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand questions “what’s important is not what’s gone, but what remains. We still have half the world’s forests, thousands of rivers, lakes and glaciers, and thousands of thriving species. We know that the solutions are there today. We all have the power to change. So what are we waiting for?”  We can’t afford to wait any longer. If our actions at Rio+20 are too little, it will surely be too late.

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