Feature story

Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

20 June 2012

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20 will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 20-22 June. The high-level meeting brings together more than 100 Heads of State and government, along with UN officials and representatives of the private sector and civil society to shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

This year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in the same city and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. The conference is organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

“Rio+20 is about building a future we want, it’s about shared aspirations,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon speaking ahead of the conference. Rio+20 is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to make real progress,” he added.

Rio+20 is about building a future we want, it’s about shared aspirations

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

The Conference will focus on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. It will also focus on seven priority areas: decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

Ahead of the conference, Member States announced that they have reached an agreement on the outcome document of the Conference. “We now have a text which will be adopted at the Conference,” said Rio+20’s Secretary-General, Sha Zukang . “We think the text contains a lot of action, and if this action is implemented, and if follow-up measures are taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change.”

Sustainable Development and AIDS

The Rio+20 outcome document states Member States’ commitment to redoubling efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

“The global AIDS response has served as a pathfinder and an entry point for inclusive growth, social justice and the restoration of human dignity,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “The AIDS movement demonstrates that through strategic partnerships, even complex and enduring barriers to development can be effectively surmounted,” he added.

According to UNAIDS, there can be no sustainable development without health, human rights and gender equality.