Shaking things up in Rio

It’s time to get serious about sustainability. As preparations gear up for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), IUCN is calling for far greater progress towards a cleaner, fairer and more prosperous world. It believes nature conservation is critical for sustainable development and wants to see natural solutions central to the global response to challenges such as climate change and poverty.

Rio+20: UN Conference on Sustainable Development Photo: United Nations

UNCSD, or ‘Rio+20’ as it is commonly known, takes places 20-22 June. The event marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit that also took place in Rio where countries adopted Agenda 21—a blueprint to rethink economic growth, promote social equity and ensure environmental protection.

“There has been some progress towards sustainability but nothing like on the scale needed,” says Constanza Martinez, IUCN Senior Policy Officer. “The world has enough environmental conventions and policies, what we need is governments to enforce these and ensure accountability.”

Rio+20 will again bring together governments and civil society groups to agree on ways to change the current economic and social model to achieve real prosperity and share power equally for efficient decision making.

“We want to see nature at the centre of the green economy debate. Conserving nature—our forests, oceans, wetlands and so on—provides the solutions to many challenges such as water, food and energy security. Governments need to integrate these natural solutions into their development plans,” says Martinez.

“We also want to see far more inclusive and transparent decision making when it comes to the environment. Nature conservation is everyone’s business and everyone’s responsibility from governments and business to consumers and local communities.”

Having played a key role in all major environmental events since the mid 20th century, IUCN has the knowledge and experience to influence the Rio 2012 process. It is working hard to ensure the conference delivers concrete results that will have a positive impact on the ground. These results must be relevant to ordinary people.

Following closely after Rio+20, IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in September will be the first step in implementing the measures agreed at the Rio conference.

With tentacles at all levels from the highest policy arena to the ground level and experts on all aspects of sustainability, IUCN is well placed to translate policy into concrete action. The Congress will showcase ‘best practice’ examples to conservation practitioners, business leaders and politicians from all over the world.

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