The Republic of Vanuatu is an archipelago of more than one hundred islands floating in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean; all of these islands combined would roughly equal the land area of Connecticut and Rhode Island together. As a Small Island Developing State the people and the government of Vanuatu face numerous challenges towards their environmental, social, and economic development. While it’s true that their natural resource base is constrained by their terrestrial boundaries, there is no reason why these resources could not be used wisely and improve both their human and financial resources in the process. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is attempting to address this very issue, but I am eager to see how the agreements decided here in Rio will affect the lives…
I am fortunate enough to have landed in Rio to witness the history in making. After having read all about the 1992 Earth summit as a part of our course work and followed the preparatory meetings for the Rio+20 in New York it is indeed exciting to be here to see hours and hours of negotiation come to fruition. As an intern for the Nepal Mission through our Environment Diplomacy Practicum class I got to see part of the under belly of negotiations. The twenty page text that was initially compiled from hundreds of submission came out in the early 2012 seems like a long time ago. Since then it gone through several revisions, proposals, streamlining, combining and editing expanding it to 300 pages and now down to 80 pages…
Rio’s winter sun lightly bakes my face as I step off the shuttle bus outside of the conference center. Orange silk contrasts with mahogany skin as a woman in a kaftan walks out from the entrance. “One less nuclear power plant!” advocates the t-shirt of a Korean activist as we stand in line to receive our conference badges. Excitement radiates in the air in the quickness of steps—boots, heels, flip-flops—and the animation of exchanges. We are here as a collective because we want to realize the survival and flourishing of our plant earth.
As a Yale student I have studied international environmental governance, landscape ecology, the science of air pollution, and environmental policy. I am very familiar with the dire straits our planet is in, from overfishing to tremendous…
Shortly after I landed in Rio de Janeiro, I participated in a side event hosted by the Armenia government on “Sustainable Development Indices – possible options” at the 2012 Rio Earth Summit. In a previous post I mentioned the importance of metrics and indicators to help track progress toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of clearly defined objectives that were originally proposed by Colombia and are meant to get governments to pay attention to poverty eradication and environmental sustainability.
Can games help us understand the complexity of environmental negotiations? We – José Medinamora (MEM ’13), Soojin Kim (MEM ’12), and myself – have adapted the popular game, The Settlers of Catan, to explore this very question. Our game – Settlers of a Green Future – introduces the trade-offs between individual goals and the greater good. Using real-world sustainable development policy and action proposals that are being discussed here at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, this game helps participants understand the diversity and range of options available that can help nations achieve a green future.
As 20 students of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, they will join over 50,000 delegates and more than 130 heads of state and government that will participate in what is already being deemed as the “largest U.N. conference” ever.
Historically, F&ES has a long tradition of participating in international environmental conferences as a way of bringing to life the challenge of developing institutions and treaties to deal with pressing environmental issues. Twenty years ago, the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992 was a landmark event in that sustainable development came to the fore of the political agenda.
Prof. Pavan Sukhdev, leader of the TEEB initative and founder and chair of GIST advisory announced the release of Corporation 2020 web portal, www.Corp2020.com, a platform for the “Corporation 2020” campaign that was launched last June 14th at Rio+20. This campaign lays out a vision for today’s outdated ‘cost-externalizing’ corporation to be transformed into the engine of tomorrow’s ‘green economy.’
Corp2020.com features exclusive film interviews with leading CEOs and thought leaders, including:
- Rob Walton, Chairman of Walmart, the world’s largest public company.
- Jochen Zeitz, CEO of the German sportswear company, Puma, who have recently completed the first ever ‘environmental profit-and-loss statement.’
- Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Natura, Brazil’s largest cosmetics company.
- Julie Katzman, Executive VP of the Inter-American Development Bank.
- Jochen Flasbarth, President of Germany’s
On May 29th, U.N. General Secretary Ban ki Moon gave an encouraging speech in the context of the last set of Informal-Informals that took place before Rio+20. He reminded the world how Rio+20 is a once in a generation opportunity and how it is the beginning of a new process to change paradigms for a dynamic, fair, and sustainable development. Secretary General called all countries to put all their efforts on working on a concise outcome document that can meet the Planet’s expectations because this time work is a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity.
He presented his perspective on what the outcome of the conference should be:
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This process might be one of the most important deliverables if they manage to integrate the three
International political negotiations are very much about power. Rio+20 is no different, but besides political power, it’s very much about electrical power as well. Electrical power is proving to be one of the major challenges of the conference. No, I don’t mean energy issues – actual electrical power.
The host country Brazil committed, in the spirit of sustainability, to holding a paperless conference. A laudable decision, certainly, and with negotiators poring over pages and pages of documents from multiple sources, using electronic documents may actually be easier. There’s just one problem – the organisers neglected to provide enough electric power outlets in the conference rooms, and with negotiations running to over twelve hours some days, laptops and even tablets quickly run out of juice.
The result has been…
Let’s speculate. What sustainability messages would Sageboy want to send to world leaders at Rio? His wish list would be pretty simple.
- Encourage the use of bicycles
- Incentivize the construction of energy efficient buildings
- Advance women’s empowerment as a way to advance sustainable development
Alas, Sageboy cannot vote and he will remain transfixed to the concrete walls of Sage Hall while over 40 F&ES students descend upon the Rio+20 Summit this week to raise their voices about which items on their sustainability wish lists they want to see become reality.
HOWEVER, you can vote on Sageboy’s recommendations and more online at: Rio+20 Dialogues: Vote for the Future you Want.
This voting campaign is part of the …