Rio+20: U.S. Center Opens at UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Posted by Lynette Evans
June 18, 2012
Statue of Christ the Redeemer With Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro

Last week, I joined thousands of people from around the world for the opening of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio+20 -- the short name for the conference -- takes place twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio and will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

On June 13, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil kicked off the conference, where she called on "all countries of the world to commit" to reaching an accord that addresses serious environmental and social woes. While world leaders and stakeholders groups are busy negotiating, the public also has the opportunity to become involved and learn more about issues of sustainable development ranging from technology and innovation to governance and partnership initiatives at Athlete's Park, a venue where governments, businesses, and organizations are hosting a variety of side events.

These side events allow visitors to get a snapshot of how various sectors of society are becoming more sustainable and provides them with a unique opportunity to have face time with innovators who are developing sustainable products; researchers who are making new discoveries; and stakeholder groups such as women and youth whose lives are being transformed by the implementation of new policies and technological developments. The knowledge sharing, networking, and collaboration that is taking place among the various groups at the conference is an inspiration to us all and a testament of the shear number of people who are invested in this issue.

On June 15, I helped open the doors of the U.S. Center at Rio+20 to the public. Throughout this week, guests to the Center will have the opportunity to learn how U.S. society is advancing sustainable development initiatives through 45 live webchat programs with experts from the government, civil society, and private sector. All of these programs will be available online and accessible to people worldwide, with 11 of them being featured events with a social media component.

People all around the world are already addressing the sustainability issues before them and are blazing a trail as they design a more sustainable world, and a better future for us all.

What is your vision for a sustainable future?

Related Content: Remarks on Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development



Idaho, USA
June 18, 2012

Seymour in Idaho writes:

After reading a transcript of Prince Charles' pre-recorded speech to the summit, I am concerned that his faction will use the occasion to launch a genocidal assault on the living standards of the nations of the underdeveloped sector, targeting in particular their efforts to feed themselves. "Sustainability" ought to mean giving the people of the world access to the most advanced levels of technology so that they can manage their economies with a minimum of waste and pollution. But in some minds, "sustainability" means "kill the people so we can seize their raw materials later on down the road."

Jon M.
Michigan, USA
June 18, 2012

Jon M. in Michigan writes:

The only life that is truly sustainable is a lifestyle that uses ONLY renewable energy sources. Please consider peak oil power down and climate change as one issue.

Karen S.
New Mexico, USA
June 18, 2012

Karen S. in New Mexico writes:

Please, please, please end those darn fossil fuel subsidies now! The soon we all go green, the better our national security, aside from the encological benefits.

District Of Columbia, USA
June 19, 2012

D.T. in Washington, D.C. writes:

I find it impossible to believe that REAL CHANGE can emerge from a big meeting involving multinational oil and energy corporations which HAVE PROFIT AS THEIR BASIC MOTIVE. Corporate proits have become an issue which divides our Planet into CLASSES -- the very rich and the rapidly-becoming majority of either struggling near-poor or poor. Corporate GREED and POWER Endorsing Croporate GREED wlll be the downfall of Planet Earth. Corporations -- De-GREED YOUR AGENDAS.

Christian R.
June 19, 2012

Christian R. in Germany writes:

The only way is free market Capitalism worldwide so that we can develop our own ressources by economic growth, human creativity and human achievement, not Global Socialism on behalf of Environmentalist myths. According to the prophecies of the Club of Rome oil would have run out in 1990 and there would be no copper, no aluminium, no silver and several other ressources available anymore.

Environmentalism is an antihuman ideology, seeing humans as a cancer to the Earth. Read Robert Zubrins new book "Merchants of Despair" in order to see which atrocities Environmentalism has already caused.

Environmentalism wants to take our freedom and our wealth away. Climate Change is natural and happens according to Sun activities and the occurance of clouds. The climate was much warmer in the Middle Ages than it is now, without industry and 7 billion people.

Please do not kill progress, growth and wealth on behalf of a hoax.

Mike J.
June 19, 2012

Mike J. in Canada writes:

Global warming requires global cooling.

If we lose 5 million square miles of ice coverage we need to provide the same in reflective surfaces to offset the loss- use solar panels on everything we have built and for every new acre zoned it should be zoned green or to high density residential, commercial or industrial. Every acre lost is an acre of btu's absorbed or reflected by natural environment. Efforts globally need to focus on zoning green, working to purify water as best as humanly possible and taking zoned land converting it to high density "human" environments. No nation or entity can achieve this as there are too many chiefs. cc @maximusfun

Maryland, USA
June 19, 2012

Patrick in Maryland writes:

What is your vision of a sustainable future ?

A statainable future is one we're all around too see. One that values a persons life over everthing else.

That would be a sustainable future for everyone.

June 20, 2012

W.W. writes:


Daud K.
District Of Columbia, USA
June 20, 2012

Daud K. in Washington writes:

"Live and let others live" is the very simple principle and brief phrase to present my vision of sustainable future. How? Needs more space and time. Thanx

Jordan J.
Florida, USA
June 20, 2012

Jordan J. in Florida writes:

Solar energy, recycled materials, vertical buildings, windows, legislation, and values before greed. Educating green initiatives is also important in our educational Institutions.

June 21, 2012

W.W. writes:

Sustainable Development and the illusion of democracy

If people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system there would be a revolution before morning

Val L.
June 21, 2012

Val L. writes:

World-wide Transparency

Opening everyone's front door to increase understanding, awareness and knowledge of the issues, needs and opportunities available in order to drastically enhance buy-in globally amongst peers

Suzanne O.
Illinois, USA
June 21, 2012

Suzanne O. in Illinois writes:

Improve our economy, society, and environment globally, through strong projects and products which provide free clean drinking water, the opportunity to grow food, utilize natural resources such as, sun light, solar electricity, and wind energy. Build more “Green” structures such as “Earthships”. Also, more global disaster relief organizations, which meet the disasters of today and prepare for potential disasters of the future with quick, efficient, and sustainable solutions using leading edge design and innovation. Finally, leaving the rain forest alone, and helping poverty stricken children and communities through these channels.

Kerry L.
Minnesota, USA
June 21, 2012

Kerry L. in Minnesota writes:

Need to designate/zone agricultural only zones vs. urban only zones for development to maintain food supplies.

Develop ocean fish farms to ensure viable food supplies.

Designate desalination water plant locations for future water supplies.

June 21, 2012

Anwar in Bahrain writes:

My thoght about sutainable future is, America must leave others to decide their sustainable future and stop completley to interfere in our countries just leave us alone and ww know how to setup our sustainable future target, america never alow or let others from outside to interfer in their policy and its politics, this how we'll achieve our SF

Ready to deeply discuss this imp. issue.

Thanks, regards

Susan C.
Florida, USA
June 21, 2012

Susan C. in Florida writes:

D.T. in Washington has a very good point. Why would Exxon/Mobil give up 450 billion dollars, give or take a few billion, in profits to change a system they have "perfected" and are now basically their own "nation". I sat on many a gas line back in the Northeast in the winters of 1973/74 to ever believe that ANYTHING will be done to stop our obsessions with big cars//suv's/trucks and big oil. How was that "crisis" handled? Carter was made fun of for asking us to turn down our thermostats, and we eventually we got the Hummer!! Here's hoping we have a better solution this time around.

New Mexico, USA
June 21, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I think in order to even contemplate arriving at some kind of balanced and sustainable future humanity can live with, one has to accept the data and trends that show beyond reasonable doubt that the modern civilization that we have created is unsustainable by unintentional design for this planet's ability to sustain us in such vast numbers.

For in the seeds of what we call progress and development, we have changed the balance of nature, and created the means to our own extinction as a species both through developing better and better WMD's to do this deliberately or by accident, as well as lacking the collective social wisdom to change our own violent nature as a species and get along with one's fellow human.

We have on this planet whole nations suffering from PTSD born of intractable conflict over decades...(Syria being only the latest example of social unsustainability)

We've changed our environment to the point that hundreds of other species on this planet are either extinct or soon to become extinct.

We've been burning and cutting the planet's forests since Humanity first learned to use fire to drive heards over cliffs way back in the stone age of pre-history in order to have a tribal barbeque on a regular basis.

And in the last 200 years have deforested almost two thirds of the timber that existed before the industrial revolution started.

One wonders why the planet's atmosphere is out of balance and CO2 is on the rise?

I figure this planet can comfortably sustain only 4-5 billion people, and only with some radical changes in society's industrial architecture, as well as depending on resolving the inherant lack of social dicipline needed to sustain peaceful coexistance with each other and Mother Nature.

We pack ourselves into cities one atop each other like rats in a cage and we expect to have healthy social norms?

We've lived so long with our ability to exterminate ourselves on a militaristic whim, that folks have grown so numb to the potential that I've read comments on Dipnote wondering what the big deal is with non -proliferation, and whether it's just more government "fear-mongering"?

Well, they can bet their lives on the fact that any government that builds WMD's for "deterrent" capability is counting on the "fear factor" involved in having them available for use at the push of a button, as one Pakistani General boasted in Oct 2001 that they could "nuke all of India in 8 seconds".

My point being here is that there is absolutely no hope whatsoever of achieving any kind of "susatainable" future for Humanity until the level of human conciousness on this planet rises above its long standing dysfunctionality as a species.

And since that mental leap of faith has always historicly lagged far behind Humanity's technological or bi-polar ability to do harm to itself, I fear that all the good intent put into the efforts included in the original post above will be for nought, until we have screwed up so big, so completely, and at the cost of millions of lives in a week that only this would shock humanity into correcting the course it is presently on.

One thing's for sure, we have created this reality, therefore we can change the parameters of this one if we have the sustained will and courage to change it for the better.

A lot of folks think the "One child" policy of China to be a bit Orwellian as a measure of a state's control opon population growth, but their alternative was not to and have about a billion extra people starving to death over the next decades.

Sec. Clinton's comments in regards to lowering child mortality rates equating with smaller family sizes because parents can be more assured a child will survive to grow to adulthood were perceptive and well founded, as sustainability starts with the family unit and how many mouths can be fed in any given environment.

And this is where one aspect of the rise in levels of human conciousness must begin, with the family unit.

If humanity can't do this on its own volition, natural forces will cull the heard as it does with any species gravely overpopulated to the point of unsustainability in its environment.

So far we've defied nature by altering the parameters of our environment, but we're already feeling the backlash of that practicve, and know there's a finite limit and a line that has been crossed, as global warming is all but irreversable unless we have about 5 Krackatoa size volcano's go off one after the other which might buy us another 20 years to find a solution which ultimately involves planting millions of square miles of forests to achieve a re-balanced carbon cycle.


Georgia, USA
June 21, 2012

Ed in Georgia (U.S.A.) writes:

A sustainable future means that first we have to recognize that "growth" cannot continue indefinitely on a planet of limited resources. Second we need to have international treaties for shared resources, like the oceans. Anthropogenic climate change and ocean acidification are global problems which will require co-operation on a scale that has never been seen before. The US should be a leader on this front.

United States
June 21, 2012

Bob in the U.S.A. writes:

Sustainable development is impossible with the current financial machine – talk of sustainability all you want but our lives are driven by economics -the two issues at the moment are at diametrically opposed positions -completely incompatible. (clever people would argue otherwise – but those same clever people have brought us to this point – their wishful thinking of “ifs” and “onlys” are fantasy)You cant have both, as things stand now -its impossible.

To put it real simple, for rich or poor wherever you are -”your money or your life -you cant have both” -its just a matter of time before this realization sets in(for many around the world its sinking in fast).

If we continue with our current economics we will lose a lot of life – we already have and it will worsen. Its a no brainer.

Rodrick J.
California, USA
June 21, 2012

Rodrick J. in California writes:

The planet needs to be considered as an organic whole and the individual governments of the various regions of Earth should all recognize this and work together to ensure the health and wellness of the Earth, not just the various human populations.

Alejandro B.
June 21, 2012

Alejandro B. in Guatemala writes:

The main problem of the world right now is a hiperinflated incapable bureacracy in all key institutions of the planet (financial, State, etc). Huge salaries are ok, but the performance of the bureacrats must correspond fully to the demands of their job posts. Meritocracy is a must in these cases where mankind is at stake. The US must take leadership in this cause.

Jenny I.
Wisconsin, USA
June 21, 2012

Jenny I. in Wisconsin writes:

I believe that clean energy and water will be the largest issues facing human civilizations this century. All countries need to educate their people on how to create renewable energy systems. The whole world needs jobs and creating a whole new way to generate electricity, and accompanying infrastructure, will employ millions of people. Every human also needs clean water to survive. We need to collectively stop polluting the small percentage of fresh water that exists on Earth. Please look to the similarities humans have rather than our difference. Thank you.

Yocamille A.
June 21, 2012

Yocamille A. writes:

I'm counting on the US to finally lead in this conference and the rest of the way! It's been 20 yrs and our only planet is not holding much longer. Everyone is waiting on us and I think the moment has come. In a world where we've been financing "subsidizing" Oil companies for decades even with record earnings, it's clear our lawmakers have had an interest of their own present not the future. Unfortunately, as a very wise man once said: "progress isn't progress if it isn't sustainable"!

Fossil fuels are clearly NOT progress! President Obama may get a second shot at the presidency but he must ensure to lead our country & hence the world into a clean sustainable future for the sake of his daughters as well as mine.


A very concerned "independent" 40 yr old Mom

Steven m.
New York, USA
June 21, 2012

Steven M. in New York writes:

Saving what resources we have and upgrading/investing in the green energy of tommorow now! So our kids and there kids have something left.

Also helping rid the world of hunger now! I like to see heavy machinery seed fair irrigation practices , and education as the new aid for this century!

United States
June 22, 2012

Malin in the U.S.A. writes:

Stop all the wars. Use that money to invest in this world's future. The money spent on all these USELESS WARS, could of clothed, fed and educated the world's poor for YEARS! Instead of investing in green fuels, more wars are created OVER OIL! There are no terrorists, only the ones that are created by invading and occupying those countries raping their resources so they be sold on Wall Street! That's why we have terrorists!

Stop the bloody wars!

Susan M.
Massachusetts, USA
June 22, 2012

Susan M. in Massachusetts writes:

We need to work on clean and renewable energy. Nuclear plant radiation, oil spills killing our oceans and fracking polluting the gound and air. Remember when there is a huge solar energy spill it's just called a "nice day"

Seymour P.
United States
June 22, 2012

Portia S. in the U.S.A. writes:

American should return to Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" policy, and help developing nations to get nuclear energy, instead of threatening them with invasion when they try to do it on their own.


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