Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. In 2012, delegates from around the world will once again meet in Rio, this time for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. This conference, known as Rio+20, will be an opportunity to re-energize global sustainable development efforts, with an emphasis on strengthening linkages between economic, environmental, and social issues.
On Thursday, June 9, 2011, the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs in partnership with the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental, and Scientific Affairs (OES) hosted a "Smart Partnership Dialogue: Global Engagement Series" briefing for U.S. state and local officials to explain U.S. expectations for the June 2012 Rio+20 conference in Brazil and to highlight the instrumental role state and local governments can play in planning for this global gathering. Representatives from the states of Washington, New York, and California, as well as Westchester County, New York City and Philadelphia, participated in Thursday's event.
The program also included briefings by Daniel Clune, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs ; Upendra Chivukula, Assemblyman and Deputy Speaker in the New Jersey State Assembly; Paul Pinsky, Maryland State Senator; Lawrence Gumbiner, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Jessica McGlyn, Director, World Business Council on Sustainable Development; Jake Schmidt, Director of International Climate Policy, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Timothy Killeen, NSF Coordinator for Environmental Research and Education and Assistant Director for Geo-Sciences, the National Science Foundation.
Martin Chavez, Executive Director of ICLEI USA and one of the program participants, underscored the importance of a fully engaged local government. Chavez said, "[The U.S.] need[s] to bring in Mayors and County Executives into the discussion because action will have to take place at the local level to be successful."
Whether it is the work of the cities of San Francisco, California or Keene, New Hampshire, localities are at the forefront of finding solutions to address sustainable development. For this reason, and others, the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs and the OES Bureau will continue to engage local governments on the issue of sustainability. Sustainability is one of the principal themes for Rio+20, which will examine issues related to the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development. Objectives for the conference include: securing a renewed political commitment for sustainable development; assessing progress and remaining gaps in implementation of sustainable development efforts; and addressing new and emerging challenges.
The United States is committed to using the Rio+20 Conference to:
• Promote a green economy and green growth, incorporating environmental and social concerns into economic development planning,
• Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN in support of national sustainable development efforts,
• Involve stakeholders at all levels to promote sustainable development, and
• Recognize our successes of the past twenty years and catalyze future action.
For more information on Rio+20, please visit: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/.