Twenty years after the historic “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, the international community will again converge on the city this week to renew their commitments to sustainable development. However, the hope that the conference will be a game-changer for the environment appears to be dashed before the official proceedings have even begun.
The Rio+20 Conference (officially the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) will be a three-day gathering of governments and thousands of NGOs, journalists, and business representatives. They’ll discuss how to “green” the global economy and promote international coordination on sustainable development policies. The central aim will be to get governments to agree on a “focussed political document” that will reinvigorate global environmental initiatives after decades of sporadic action that has failed to halt ecological degradation.
In 1992, the first Rio Summit was a major success. It raised public awareness about environmental issues and the need to reconcile environmental protection and economic development. It created a host of agreements acknowledging sustainable development involves meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The path-breaking document, Agenda 21, outlined an ambitious blueprint for putting sustainable development into practice.