20 June 2012 marked the start of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. More than 100 Heads of State and government gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
On 19 June, 191 countries reached an agreement on the Conference’s outcome document which will be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at the conclusion of Rio+20 on Friday.
The document calls for a wide range of actions, including: beginning the process to establish sustainable development goals; detailing how the green economy can be used as a tool to achieve sustainable development; strengthening the UN Environment Programme (UNEP); promoting corporate sustainability reporting measures; taking steps to go beyond gross domestic product to assess the well-being of a country; developing a strategy for sustainable development financing; and, adopting a framework for tackling sustainable consumption and production.
The document also focuses on improving gender equity; recognizing the importance of voluntary commitments on sustainable development; and stressing the need to engage civil society and incorporate science into policy.
In addition to the outcome document, there have been nearly 500 voluntary commitments on sustainable development activities by civil society groups, businesses, governments and universities.
Speaking at Rio+20’s ceremonial opening, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “we recognize that the old model for economic development and social advancement is broken” and that “Rio+20 has given us a unique chance to set it right, to create a new model, to set a new course that truly balances the imperatives of robust growth and economic development with the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable prosperity and human well-being”.
The UN chief also stressed that “we are running out of time. We no longer have the luxury to defer difficult decisions. We have a common responsibility to act in common cause, to set aside narrow national interests in the name of the global public good and the betterment of all.”
Source: UN News Centre