Preparations for GFDD’s Participation in the World’s Largest-ever Environment Conference, Rio + 20, Underway

March 27, 2012

In preparation for the upcoming Rio + 20 summit, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) attended the third open-ended informal intercessional meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held on 26 and 27 March 2012, in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

The second round of informal discussions focused on the objective and themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development,
which has been charged by the General Assembly to research;  a) how efforts to achieve sustainable development can be increased; b) explore how countries can green their economies and c) determine how to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Rio+20 – the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable
Development to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 – is an historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.

Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection – the UN is again bringing together governments, international institutions and major groups to
agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.

Rio+20 is a chance to move away from business-as-usual and to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future.
The official discussions will focus on two main themes: How to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty, including
support for developing countries that will allow them to find a green path for development; and how to improve international coordination for sustainable development.

At Rio, governments, businesses and civil society leaders, including GFDD, will gather to assess progress, gaps and challenges and renew political commitment for achieving sustainable development and shaping “the future we want”. This has become the mantra of the conference considered by the United Nations
Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon, to be one of the largest and most important UN gatherings ever with the expected participation of more than 110 heads of state and the involvement of thousands of top leaders from all sectors.

Despite the size and scope of the conference, Rio+20 has so far attracted limited media attention and is little known by the
public.  To address this issue, friends of GFDD who joined us at the 2011 Dominican Republic Environment Film Festival (DREFF), David Guggenheim (Ocean Doctor) and Lisa Boyle   (Plastic Pollution Coalition) produced a panel of leading environmental practitioners and experts, Including Co-Chair of the Rio+20 summit, Elizabeth Thompson, to explore the challenges and opportunities of communicating about Rio+20 in a world much different than that at the first Earth Summit a
generation ago. The panel, moderated by Jacob Scherr of the NRDC, also comprised of Charlotte Scaddan, Rio+20 Social Media Manager, UNDPI, Marie-Pierre Daigle, National Director, WE Canada, Colin Sutton, Social Media Business Leader, OMD Word, and Elisabeth Rosenthal, Environmental Correspondent, the NY Times, made recommendations about enhancing the effectiveness of current outreach efforts to encourage broader engagement and cooperation among all stakeholders in raising public awareness
of Rio+20 over the next three months.

Represented by Environment Program Manager, Emy Rodriguez and Communications Manager, Margaret Hayward, GFDD will be an active participant at Rio + 20 this coming June. The Organization has submitted a proposal for a side event entitled; “Ocean in Google Earth” as an Environmental Education Tool: The Dominican Perspective”.

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