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RIO+20 The Future We Want

RIO+20 the future we want

Sustainability Highlights: January-March


Explore this snap shot of United Nations events and initiatives from January-March 2013 and engage in the United Nations' efforts to realize a sustainable world for all! Highlights from earlier this year touch on: international water cooperation, boosting sanitation programs, as well as, new UN initiatives supporting sustainable consumption and production and sustainable lighting.

Water Cooperation and Improved Sanitation

International Year of Water

The UN launched the International Year of Water Cooperation at UNESCO's Headquarters in Paris. The International Year will raise awareness and facilitate action on water cooperation as it relates to sustainable and economic development.

In his message for the Year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "Each year brings new pressures on water. Growing populations. Climate change." The Secretary-General added, "Upstream and downstream, and across borders, we need to cooperate for the benefit of all."

World Water Day

Events were held worldwide to mark World Water Day, observed annually on 22 March. United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson also launched a call for urgent global action to help end the crisis of 2.5 billion people without basic sanitation. Over 3,000 children die per day due to health risks associated with poor sanitation and lack of clean water. Eliasson said the call for action would focus on ending the practice of open defecation—there are still 1.1 billion people who lack access to proper toilets. Follow updates on efforts to improve the sanitation drive: http://sanitationdrive2015.org/.

Food Security

Think, Eat, Save.

Did you know that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost wasted each year? Not only is that food that cold feed the world’s hungry, but its the production and transportation of food that also places costs on the health of our planet through overfishing, green house gas emission and wastage of water.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 300 million tones of food is annually discarded even the though the food is still fit for consumption. Producers, retailers and consumers in cutting such waste could feed the estimated 870 million people that suffer from hunger.

This is an issue that every individual can act on. In an effort to mobilize global awareness on sustainable consumption and production, the FAO and UNEP have partnered on the ‘Think. Eat. Save.’ campaign to reduce the world’s ‘food print’. Learn how you can take part:


Clean air

Urban Air Quality in Asia

Government representatives from 19 Asian countries met to exchange policies for reducing Short-lived climate pollutants such as soot and hydrofluorocarbons. These pollutants carry health risks for humans and also contribute to global warming, says UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme. Reducing these short-lived pollutants can help improve local economies and save lives. According to a previous UNEP report, some 1.9 million deaths from outdoor pollution could be avoided each year up to 2030 by reducing black carbon emission in the residential, agricultural and transportation sectors. The same measures against black carbon could help reduce annual crop losses up to 30 million tonnes each year. The meeting was hosted by Japan and Bangladesh, in partnership with the UNEP.

Sustainable Energy

Sustainable off-grid and on-grid lighting

Access to electricity may seem like its in abundance for everyone but 1.3 billion people live without electric light and this lack of energy creates barriers for kids to go to school and for business to run and for families to be lifted out of poverty. "Supporting both sustainable off-grid and on-grid lighting can bring about major financial savings in a short time, as well as additional educational, health and environmental benefits towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals," says UNEP. This month, UNEP announced a partnership with the Global Off-grid Lighting Corporation to accelerate policies on sustainable off-grid lighting. Learn more:http://bit.ly/11Xly48

Following up with Rio+20

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, was an action-oriented conference focusing on implementation of sustainable development. The Conference also galvanized the attention of thousands of representatives of the UN system and major groups. It resulted in over 700 voluntary commitments and witnessed the formation of new partnerships to advance sustainable development. In the months after the conference, how are world partners delivering on the commitments made and what do global citizens think of the post-Rio landscape? UN DESA's Division for Sustainable Development hosted the first in a series of Google+ Hangouts on 12 February, focusing on the theme of "Following up on Rio+20: Putting commitments into action" and featured key experts on Rio+20 and sustainable development from the UN system and civil society. Panelists discussed the concrete outcomes of Rio+20 and elaborated on the follow up processes and initiatives resulting from the conference.

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