Cicero Lucena and John Gummer set out their plans for success at the Rio+20 sustainable development talks
As world leaders prepare for the Rio+20 meeting in just over a week, now is a fitting moment to assess the true legacy of the original Earth Summit in 1992.
In many respects, the summit was a watershed moment for the environment. It brought together a remarkable 172 countries, more than 100 of which were represented by their leaders, to start to address at the global level the unsustainable use of natural resources and man’s impact on the environment.
Yet, two decades on, all the major scientific indicators continue to flash red. And, sadly, it is now clear that a large part of the summit’s original potential has been squandered.
Since 2000 alone, forests equivalent in size to the landmass of Germany have been lost; 80% of the world’s fish stocks have collapsed or are on the brink of collapse; and the Gobi desert is growing by roughly 10,000 square kilometres every year. The list of environmental pressures grows by the day, and there can be little doubt that the unsustainable use of natural resources will be the biggest challenge facing mankind in the 21st century.
So why haven’t we done better since 1992, and what needs to be done to achieve a course correction now?