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Rio+20

Why Transportation Needs to Be on the Rio+20 Agenda

Ten years ago, world leaders convened in Johannesburg to establish the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), global strategies designed to end poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015. While the pledges were ambitious, they neglected to recognize a critical component of sustainable development: transportation. Development banks, governments, and other decision-makers spent the next decade focusing their attention on MDG priorities. Meanwhile, cities around the world faced worsening traffic congestion, increased air pollution, and dangerous roads.

We’re now face-to-face with the next major global development summit, the U.N.’s Rio+20 Conference. One of the biggest tasks at hand will be shaping new “Sustainable Development Goals,” plans that will pick up where the MDGs left off. This time, we can’t leave transportation out of the agenda.

What's Happening at Rio+20: June 15th

The Rio+20 informal sessions kicked off this week, and WRI’s experts are on the ground for all the action. Each day, we’ll bring you highlights of upcoming WRI events. Check out the details below on what we’ve got going on tomorrow. And be sure to visit the full list of all WRI events at Rio+20.

Coming Tomorrow: June 15, 2012

Sustainable Transport in the Cities of the Future

WHO: Holger Dalkmann, Director EMBARQ

WHEN: Friday, June 15 2012, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. BRT

WHERE: Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Riocentro Complex, Room T-5

The Green Economy: Combining Profit and Planet

Can creating business value and promoting sustainable development go hand in hand? We think so, and so do many leading companies. That’s why we’re excited to present a panel at the Rio+20 conference featuring speakers from Siemens, PepsiCo, and Mars. On June 17, 2012, these companies will reveal successful strategies that benefit the environment, their customers, and their bottom line.

Companies that Combine Profit and Planet

Each company has a compelling story to tell about how environmental initiatives can spur business opportunities and growth:

  • Siemens: Almost half (41 percent) of the company’s 2011 revenue came from products in its environmental portfolio, such as solar technologies and building automation systems.

  • PepsiCo: The company partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to create a market for sunflower oil in Mexico, supporting its transition away from palm oil, which threatens forests, while providing healthy foods and beverages. The initiative will provide a stable income source for roughly 850 farmers and their families. This fits with the company’s “Performance with Purpose” approach which seeks to tie superior financial performance with its commitment to human and environmental sustainability, while “fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

Climate Change and Rio+20

Despite 1992 Rio Earth Summit being the birthplace of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate change doesn’t have a major place on this year’s official Rio+20 agenda. But we shouldn’t assume that it’s a forgotten issue. In fact, climate change cuts across nearly all of the other sustainable development topics.

However, news on the climate front is not good. Global emissions levels have reached record highs, according to the latest data from the International Energy Agency. We continue to see unusally warm temperatures, like the extraordinarily hot spring we just experienced in the United States. Extreme weather events, such as heat waves and droughts, continue to wreak havoc around the globe, reminding us of what the world will look like if emissions continue to rise.

Rio+20: Seizing the Opportunity for a Sustainable Future

The 1992 Earth Summit was a bright moment for the environmental movement. For the first time, presidents and prime ministers—more than 100 in all—were “coming together to save the earth,” as a headline on the cover of Time magazine put it. What’s more, the U.N.-led conference in Rio de Janeiro yielded some genuine results. Among them were major global treaties on the climate and biodiversity. Rich and poor countries alike also made a broad new commitment to sustainable development— as spelled out in the Rio Declaration and an accompanying “action plan."

Was it too much to hope that humanity had turned a corner?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question appears to be yes. Despite some progress, the world is still waiting for the global response that the original Earth Summit seemed to promise— a promise that will now be revisited, as thousands of representatives of government, civil society, and business return for the Rio+20 conference.

Rio de Janeiro Opens First Bus Rapid Transit Corridor

This post was originally published in Portuguese on EMBARQBrasil.org.

As world leaders gather to address global sustainability at Rio+20, the summit’s host city, Rio de Janeiro, just undertook its own green initiative—it launched its first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor.

The lives of millions of cariocas, Rio de Janeiro residents, have already started to change with the opening of the Transoeste, the city’s first BRT corridor. The public transit system, developed with assistance from EMBARQ – WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transportation, expects to help hundreds of thousands of Rio residents, providing them with safer transport, shorter commutes, and less pollution.

Rio+20: Moving Ahead with the Sustainable Development Goals

As the global summit in Rio approaches, negotiations are still in flux, but some ideas that could advance the global sustainability agenda are gaining momentum.

One such idea is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are emerging as a potentially significant outcome with global policy implications for the post-2015 development agenda. With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to expire in 2015, the idea is for governments to launch a process in Rio to develop broader SDGs that would complement or succeed them.

The MDGs have had a laudable impact on reducing the proportion of the world’s people living in extreme poverty. But they have also been criticized– fairly – for failing to address some key drivers of poverty. These include environmental issues—such as climate change and resource scarcity—that disproportionately impact the poor and most vulnerable, as well as the inequitable distribution of wealth, income, and opportunity.

Why Land Rights Should Be on the Rio+20 Agenda

As government leaders prepare for next month’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil, one issue is conspicuously absent from the agenda: land rights. Strong property rights—the rights for people to access, control, transfer, and exclude others from land and natural resources—create incentives to invest in sound land management and help protect land from expropriation.

Strengthening land rights has not featured prominently in Rio+20’s first two Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings or the “Informals” that preceded them. In fact, only one line in the 29 March draft of The Future We Want, the principle outcome document for Rio+20, touches on land rights. That reference—“avoid creating food and water insecurities and limiting access to land, particularly for the poor”—has already been opposed by a number of developed nations, including the United States and the European Union.

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