The Diplomatic Insight - - Rio + 20 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.

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