The Earth Summit is currently underway in Brazil (20th – 22nd, June 2012). The conference is also referred to as Rio +20 to mark the 20 year anniversary of the original Earth Summit held in the city in 1992. This year, the Summit focusses on two keys themes: a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.
In a previous article we looked at the concept of a green economy and how the nurturing of trees can help to realise certain aspects of this. Careful stewardship and sustainable use of trees can also help to address some of the 7 critical issues also being discussed at Rio such as food energy and even jobs, particularly for communities that currently reply on forests for much of their livelihoods.
The other major aspect of Rio +20 is an effort to begin development institutional framework for sustainable development. This is a potentially thorny issue given the very wide array of meanings applied to the term ‘sustainable development’ since the phrase was first coined at the original Earth Summit in 1992.
An institutional framework for sustainable development primarily refers to the system of global governance for sustainable development. This includes the global institutions charged with developing, monitoring and implementing policies on sustainable development across its three pillars – social, environmental and economic.
The two main institutions governing sustainable development at the global level are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Commission on Sustainable Development. Over the past 20 years their efficacy has sometimes been called into question and the hope is that by taking this opportunity to reform these bodies they will be better equipped to deliver global sustainable development objectives.
You can find out more about the Earth Summit and keep up to date with latest developments at www.earthsummit2012.org