13 June 2012
Press Release
ENV/DEV/1288

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Brazil Prepares to Hold Largest United Nations Conference; More than 50,000


 People Expected to Participate in Rio+20 Events


Representatives from Governments and civil society organizations will gather tomorrow for the third and final preparatory meeting for Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro from 20 to 22 June.


Rio+20 is expected to be the largest United Nations conference ever, with more than 50,000 people taking part over the 10 days of events leading up to and including the Conference.  More are expected to participate in the many Rio+20-related events taking place throughout Rio de Janeiro.


The three-day preparatory meeting will take place from 13 to 15 June, and will be followed by four “Dialogue Days”  sponsored by the Government of Brazil, focusing on ten key areas where action to promote sustainability is needed.  At the final preparatory meeting, Conference participants will work towards the completion of the political outcome document for Rio+20. 


In addition to the political document, many Governments, businesses and international organizations will be launching or announcing commitments and initiatives to further progress towards sustainable energy for all, sustainable transportation, access to clean water, protected oceans and food security.


With the world facing many pressing challenges, including the global economic crisis, the growing gap between rich and poor, climate change and increased loss of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, Rio+20 is a major opportunity for the international community to guide policies and actions that promote sustainable development.  The Conference aims to help address some of the fundamental problems countries have faced in putting sustainable policies into practice, including the failure to consider economic growth, social well-being and environmental protection in a comprehensive way.


“There is a real spirit of compromise and determination among delegations to produce a document that can be endorsed by Heads of State and Government,” said Sha Zukang, Rio+20 Secretary-General.  “ Rio+20 will provide the inspiration and the guidance to accelerate progress on the sustainability agenda.”


Civil society has played an unprecedented role in negotiations for Rio+20, with different civil society groups commenting during negotiating rounds held over the last several months, as well as on the original draft of the text for the Rio+20 outcome document.  About 19,000 representatives of civil society Major Groups — representing business, farmers, indigenous peoples, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, science, trade unions, women and youth — will be attending Rio+20.  It is also the first major United Nations conference where there are more civil society representatives attending from developing countries than from the developed world.


Mr. Sha stressed that civil society participation is critical.  “We will not be able to translate sustainable development into action without the full engagement of civil society,” he said.  “It is up to people — the farmers, the women, businesses and scientists — to push for action that promotes prosperity, well-being and the protection of our planet for future generations.”


Rio+20 will produce three types of outcomes:  a negotiated document that will promote international cooperation and action on sustainable development; the recommendations of civil society during four Dialogue Days; and the announcement or launch of many major initiatives and commitments that will advance results on the ground.


At the heart of the political document is a call for a renewed political commitment to sustainable development, and proposals for how the green economy could help achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication, as well as the institutions needed to promote and support sustainable development at the global level.  In the negotiations, there has been widespread support for a process to determine a set of sustainable development goals.  The goals may be similar in fashion to the Millennium Development Goals — agreed to in 2000 with targets set for 2015 related to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and improving global health — but possibly with a broader reach for all countries.


Improving the effectiveness of the global institutions that help put sustainable development into action has been key in the discussions for the outcome document.  How to develop the institutional framework for sustainable development is still being determined, with countries considering how best to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and replace the Commission on Sustainable Development to more effectively deal with immediate and emerging sustainable development issues in a timely manner.


Negotiators have also been examining how to galvanize action towards a global green economy, understanding that business as usual is no longer an option.  What constitutes a green economy and how it can best be utilized to promote sustainable development is still being defined by negotiators, with UNEP, among others, sharing its views through reports, policy papers and other means.


“These negotiations have not always been easy,” Mr. Sha said.  “We’ve had some long days and nights hammering out key phrases.  But what is clear is that we are so interconnected today, and people and our planet are relying on us to move forward on a more sustainable path.  International cooperation is absolutely the way to go to get us there.”


After the preparatory meeting concludes and before Rio+20 begins, civil society and the private sector are expected to take the lead on discussions and actions that will be among those considered at Rio+20.  They will participate in the “Dialogue Days”, from 16 to 19 June, and the United Nations Global Compact’s Corporate Sustainability Forum, where some 2,000 business leaders will share innovations and make commitments on sustainability from 15 to 18 June.


For more information on Rio+20, visit www.uncsd2012.org.  To join the global conversation on Rio+20:  The Future We Want, visit www.un.org/futurewewant.


For more information, please contact in the United Nations Department of Public Information Dan Shepard, tel.:   +55 21 8921 8472, e-mail:  shepard@un.org; Wynne Boelt, tel.:  +55 21 8921 8475, e-mail:  boelt@un.org; or Gustavo Barreto, tel.:  +55 21 8185 0582, e-mail:  gustavo.barreto@unic.org.


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For information media • not an official record