With the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development -- also known as Rio+20 -- quickly approaching, world leaders are preparing to meet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to "shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want," according to the U.N.
Along with the Rio+20 conference, the U.N. is also leading a global initiative known as Sustainable Energy for All. The U.N. declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, with the goal of improving the lives of the nearly three billion people who "rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating."
Despite high hopes for the Rio conference, which is a follow-up to 1992's Earth Summit, concerns have lingered that it may fall short. Last month, talks to "hammer out the lion's share of the conference's outcome document ... failed," reported the Associated Press.
Last week, the U.N. released its fifth Global Environment Outlook, examining the health of our planet. According to the report, "Of the 90 most important environmental goals in existence, only four are making significant progress," explained Reuters.
Achim Steiner, the U.N. Under-Secretary General and Environment Program Executive Director, said in a statement, "If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled', then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation."
HuffPost blogger and climate policy expert William S. Becker notes the importance of decisive action for future generations. Arguing that "There have been many more words than actions these past 20 years," he writes, "The question is not whether youth will have a voice at [Rio+20]. They will. The question is whether the delegates will listen."
World Resources Institute Interm President Manish Bapna recently said in a statement, "Rio+20 should serve as a wake-up call for our planet. Leaders in Rio need to make sustainability a global priority, placing it at the very center of political and economic agendas. We can no longer afford to view environmental issues as being apart from, or in conflict with economic growth– but rather see sustainability as an integrated, pro-growth path forward."
Natural Resources Defense Council president and HuffPost blogger Francis Beinecke also emphasized the need for ocean restoration. She writes, "We don't want to hear what countries will do in two or three decades. We want to know what they will do when they return from Rio and get to work restoring the oceans."
What are your hopes, fears or expectations for Rio+20? Tweet with the hashtag #MyRioWish and see others' thoughts below.
Siv M Sandnæs
Patricia E. Stein
Miriam G Mendes
Daniel J. Escobedo
Patricia E. Stein
Margot Le Guen