20 June 2012 World leaders will today hear recommendations made by members of civil society during a series of dialogues held at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
“The Conference has become a very public event through side-events such as the sustainability dialogues involving hundreds of people over the past few days,” said the Director of the UN Information Centre in Brazil, Giancarlo Summa. “This is something very promising for the future because the sustainable development concept is getting stronger and people are using it as a future platform for social achievements.”
Over the past four days, civil society experts, scientists and other major groups discussed with members of the public key issues linked to Rio+20, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, between 20-22 June. The dialogues, which were organized by the Brazilian Government, do not count with participation from government representatives or UN agencies; instead, they seek to establish a direct connection between citizens and Heads of State, who will hear the recommendations during meetings over the next two days.
“I want to make a difference in the decision making process. I feel that it was important that the mediator allowed me to stand up and put my ideas forward, and that people from other places could hear it,” said Cristiane Galvão, a journalist attending a panel on sustainable energy. “If this debate will go any further and influence public policies I do not know, but I can only hope it does.”
The dialogues were divided into ten panel session addressing issues such as unemployment, decent work and migration; sustainable cities and innovation; food and nutrition security; and, sustainable energy.
Participants then voted on which recommendations derived from the dialogues would be taken to Heads of State and government during Rio+20.
Among the most supported proposals were the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, restoring degraded lands, securing water supplies and avoiding polluting oceans with plastic materials through education and community collaboration.
Some of the speakers included US economist Jeffrey Sachs; the former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland; the President of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Yolanda Kakabadse, and the founder of the Grameen Bank, Muhammed Yunus.
“I came for the dialogue on water, but I could not resist participating in the one on sustainable energy as well,” said Francisco Gomide, an engineer who was also the minister of mining and energy in Brazil ten years ago. “It was a good debate, very interesting. There were some enthusiastic contributions and also some radical contributions, but there is always something to learn from a discussion like this.”
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