RIO+20 AND “THE FUTURE WE WANT”: AN INCLUSIVE CONFERENCE
Between June 13 and June 22, 2012, Brazil hosted the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. The High Level Conference was held from June 20 to June 22, and it was one of the largest international conferences in history, gathering more than 50.000 participants and over 90 Heads of State and Heads of Government. The Conference ended with the unanimous approval of a very important and inclusive document that set new goals to be achieved throughout the 21st century. More importantly, the approved document established new patterns on how our societies should be organized for a more sustainable and harmonious way of life. The declaration dealt with a wide variety of themes, which ranged from economic and social issues to the establishment of new environmental governance policies. Most importantly, all the almost 200 delegations present at Riocentro (the Conference's venue), agreed on the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals, as an analogy to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). There are still many details and procedures on those goals to be discussed, but the basic idea was set, and they will certainly have the same adherence as the MDG's. The creation of those goals and approval of the document was a great victory for the multilateral decision making process, and only for that, the Rio+20 could have been considered a success. But Rio+20 was much more than an unanimously approved document, and its real and biggest asset did not rely on the massive presence of almost 100 Heads of State and Heads of Government and delegations from 188 countries. The strength of Rio+20 lied on the presence of 50.000 people from all over the planet to participate on the more than six thousand events, the vast majority organized by civil society, that were held during the Conference. Delegates from all the countries you can name went to Rio, ready to share their ideas and views on how to make the future the way we want. They all had their chance to speak their minds and get listen to. Ecologists groups, feminists, NGO's, minority groups, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, peasants, and every other segment of society were represented. Everyone was a little part of the Rio+20 Conference. Besides, many cultural exhibitions were held, in order to enrich even more the event. A very important tool to strengthen the participation of civil society was the creation of an innovative digital platform, the Dialogues for Sustainable Development, where more than 63.000 persons, from 193 nationalities, contributed with recommendations to the High Level Segment of the Conference. It was the first time that such an inclusive and participatory process has taken place in aUNconference. The dialogues consisted of ten rounds of discussion, with ten participants in each, which addressed priority issues on the international agenda of sustainability. In each round, three proposals were chosen, one by the speakers, one by the participants of a session and one by Internet users. In the end, the thirty most voted suggestions were taken directly to the Heads of States and Governments attending the Conference. The most interesting thing is that the topics discussed in each panel were chosen by people from different parts of the world. The process started in April and involved some 30 representatives from universities and research centers in the world who coordinated open discussions on the internet. The proposals could be voted online and more than 63.000 people from 193 countries have cast about 1.4 million votes. The topics discussed varied from migration and work conditions to sustainable cities and innovation, passing trough water, forests, and others. Rio+20 did not only set new environmental and lifestyle agendas, it set a new model on how to tackle global issues: with the participation and inclusion of all sectors of society. “The future we want” must be built together, and its cornerstone was launched in Brazil, in June 2012.