On June 20-22, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) will hold a global Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marking two decades of official international action on sustainable development. According to IBON International’s Policy Brief Green Economy: Gain or Pain for the Earth’s Poor? at http://rio20.net/en/documentos/green-economy-gain-or-pain-for-the-the-earths-poor:


“In the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the international community came to recognize the unequal and unsustainable character of dominant development patterns. At the same time, it committed to take steps towards more equitable and sustainable development, and produced the conventions on climate change and biodiversity, and the Agenda 21 action plan.


“Twenty years later, the world finds itself far off track in realizing the vision of Rio. Global economic expansion continues to severely strain the environment. Humanity’s ecological footprint now exceeds the planet’s biocapacity by over 50%, and three of nine planetary boundaries that define the safe operating space for human life on Earth have been breached1.


“Yet, despite the vast amounts of wealth being produced, the benefits and costs are shared very unequally. The wealthiest 20 per cent of humankind are responsible for nearly 80% of greenhouse gas emissions while enjoying over 70% of total world income. Half of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 a day, nearly 1 billion live in hunger, and close to 2 billion are trapped in multidimensional poverty2. The bottom 20% share only 1% of world income but suffer the worst consequences of the climate crisis generated by this economic system3.”


1 Rockstrom, Johan et al., 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461: 472-475. Available at http://www.environment.arizona.edu/files/env/profiles/liverman/rockstrom-etc-liverman-2009-nature.pdf.


2 IBON International, 2010. New Directions in Development Discourse and Practice. Available from www.aprnet.org.


3 UNICEF, 2011. Global Inequality: Beyond the Bottom Billion, Social and Economic Policy. Working Paper (New York: UNICEF) Available from http://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/index_58230.html.


To learn more about the Rio+20 Earth Summit, go to UNCSD official website at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/rio20, or the Stakeholder Forum’s website at http://www.earthsummit2012.org/.