While Rio+20 May Be Over, Commitments Continue

A text box whowing examples of voluntary commitments from the U.N. conference. Source: Rio+20 website.

An example of voluntary commitments from the U.N. conference. Source: Rio+20 website.



From planting 100 million trees by 2017, to recycling 800,000 tons per year of PVC by 2020, to greening 10,000 square kilometers of desert, Rio+20 highlighted commitments to action that the global community is taking toward sustainable development. Amounting to more than $500 billion, these commitments are being made by governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and the UN system and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs).

Taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20-22, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) centered on seven critical global issues in an effort to address the current progress, challenges, and implementation of sustainable development initiatives from previous summits and to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development.

Rio+20 focused on bringing together stakeholders to produce concrete results for sustainable development. These commitments, made voluntarily, consist of tangible deliverables, ranging from raising awareness to public education, the creation of a sustainable development projects, changes in business practice, and policy advocacy.

Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil and the Rio+20 Conference, highlighted the significance of Rio+20 as a platform for establishing commitments: It “provide(s) the visibility and transparency to efforts undertaken by the private sector, while enabling social control.”

The Rio+20 participating countries outlined three main means of implementation for the hundreds of commitments made: Finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. The conference resulted in a final outline of a “The Future We Want” document.

This framework for action consists of more than 20 focus areas, including poverty eradication, food security, water and sanitation, energy, climate change, biodiversity, education, and gender equality and the empowerment of women.

With the most expensive natural disaster in world history, the March 2011 Japan Tohoku-Oki earthquake and tsunami, disaster resilience also played a key role throughout the high-level conference.

Henrietta Elizabeth Thompson, executive coordinator of Rio+20, stated that “part of the goal of Rio+20 is to identify new ways in which disasters are impeding sustainable development.”

For individuals and groups who would like to add their own commitments, the UN has many available resources.

More Information on Rio+20 and Sustainability

Road to Rio+20: An Increased Focus on Disaster Risk Reduction

Rio+20 Conference Centers on Seven Issues

Sustainability from Around the World: Third Annual Essay and Blogging Contest