Rio+20 is going to be held in 6 months; however, it is more likely that you’ve heard about Brazil’s upcoming World Cup and Olympics.  Rio +20 marks two decades since the landmark 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) conference in the same city that gathered 108 world leaders to discuss the green economy and sustainable development. Through Yale’s FES 850a International Organizations and Conferences course and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) I had a chance to attend a planning meeting for Rio+20, the Second Intersessional Meeting for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) in New York City on December 15-16, 2011.

I sat in on the US delegation’s briefing on Friday, December 16 with a diverse group of stakeholders. In attendance were…

While COP-17 is the negotiation about who should pay for climate change, Rio+20 will set the tone for sustainable development in the 21st century. Although Rio+20 is different from COP meetings in that it is intended to achieve a political agenda rather than a legally binding form, the two meetings are quite similar in essence.

Green Economy and Institutional Framework are supposed to be the two major topics for Rio next year, but last week in New York intersession, country delegates spent much more time on other topics than the two idealistic terms.

Different countries interpreted Rio+20 in dramatically different ways, although similar ways as they did in Durban. EU promoted a road map for green economy, doesn’t that sounds familiar? US emphasized civil society engagement, which corresponds…

In June of 2012, heads of state, business leaders, and civil society will converge in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as the Earth Summit, or Rio + 20). This meeting will mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, which galvanized a generation of environmental activists. This meeting was the birthplace of the UNFCCC, and many partnerships were forged and promises made. Rio + 20 will be an occasion to reflect of the accomplishments and failures of the environmental movement in the past two decades, and to forge ahead with innovative solutions and partnerships for the next twenty years. Young people, especially, have a large stake in the outcome of this meeting. After all, it is us who will have to…

As I sat working Saturday evening 10:00EST (5AM Durban time), this e-mail came in over the YaleDurban listerv from Sébastien Jodin, Trudeau Scholar & SSHRC Fellow at FES.
I forwarded it around at the time, but was waiting for his approval to post.  It provides a good recap of the Durban deal.
“COP-17 in Durban has just ended with the adoption of decisions under both the UNFCCC and the KP. Progress was made on a number of issues, with the main highlights being as follows:
-an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for a second commitment period for some states from 2013 to 2017, with many issues to be resolved on the transition between commitment periods;
-the operationalisation of the green climate fund; and
-the launch of an Ad Hoc Working Group

Dr. Hussein Farah is the Director General of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) based in Nairobi, Kenya.  It is an inter-governmental organization with 18 member states that provides geo-information for environment and resources management in eastern Africa.

Dr. Farah has a PhD in Water Resources Surveys from the University of Wageningen and the International Institute for Aerospace Surveys and Earth Sciences in The Netherlands.  He also holds a master’s in geography from the University of Waterloo, Canada and bachelor’s of science in surveying and photogrammerty from the University of Nairobi.  He has extensive experience in land surveying and mapping for environmental management.  Dr. Farah has lead the RCMRD for six years.


The Ring of Fire is ablaze with the new carbon trading schemes sweeping around the Pacific Rim. New Zealand is home to the first mandatory trading scheme outside of the EU, and the governments of both California and Australia have recently approved trading programs that will become operational in the coming years. Japan, which is pulling out of the Kyoto agreements in 2012, has been proposing the widespread adoption of bilateral carbon offset mechanisms for countries no longer part of those agreements, and at the municipal level, both Tokyo and Saitama are experimenting with urban carbon markets. Meanwhile, China and South Korea have plans to scale out national emissions trading schemes by 2015 as well.

Figueres Calls for a Global Business Plan for Governments, but the Private Sector Won't Wait

The UN delegates are bracing themselves for a long night — and possibly morning — as the world awaits concrete deliverables from Durban. Christiana Figueres, at a high level side event on UN coordination last Wednesday, suggested that the UNFCCC process was the attempt of 200 governments “to write a global business plan,” and that “unlike the private sector that needs all the details clarified before they will act, the governments here are moving despite the risks towards the public good.” Ms. Figueres was also confident that the legacy of Durban would be the adoption of an operational plan for the Green Climate Fund. It is expected that the fund will need to rely on private-public partnerships in order to achieve its target of 100 billion dollars of new funds (beyond regular aid budgets) for developing countries engaged in climate-compatible development by 2020.


Environmental leadership exercises for teenagers involve games. There is a game where 20 teenagers attempt to stabilize a giant seesaw with only one person allowed to speak.  There is a game where students attempt to steal a toy from behind the back of the leader and move it over a line 100 feet away without the leader identifying the thief.  There is a game that involves each group member walking across a rope 2 feet off the ground.  These games are designed to build unity, teach cooperation, consensus, teamwork and communication skills.

Yet one of the most effective games teaches none of these important values.  Dubbed “Primal Scream” the game starts with all participants staring at the ground.  On the speedy count of three, they…