Sustainable development cannot be achieved by government action alone. It requires the participation of all sectors of societies. At the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a document called Agenda 21 was released that, among other things, formalized groups whose contribution is crucial to making sustainable development a reality. Since then, these nine groups have represented the voice of their respective constituencies within UN meetings, including all subsequent Earth Summits.
With Rio+20 fast approaching, here is a brief overview of some of the activities that the different groups have planned (for more on Business and Industry, check out an earlier blog).
- NGOs: Because this is such a big group, a matrix has been developed of the wide range Rio+20 priority areas (24 in total), and facilitators have been assigned to each. Each of these groups also has events organised throughout June in Rio. NGOs are coordinating a lot of their projects and statements online through a variety of platforms, including NGORIOplus20 and a Ning site called Rio+20 NGO. The overall group is coordinated by CIVICUS, Northern Alliance for Sustainability and Consumers International.
- Scientific and Technological Community: The group is pushing a range of messages at the Summit, including calls to increase transdisciplinary research, strengthen science policy links, increase cooperation between the scientific and technological community and other groups, such as government and civil society, increase public access to data and information, and focus on science education. The Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development will take place in Rio from 11-15 June. A new 10 year interdisciplinary science initiative, Future Earth – research for global sustainability, will be launched at the event, which aims to work with policy makers and other stakeholders to deliver the knowledge that societies will need to meet their sustainable development goals in the coming decade. The group is coordinated by the International Council for Science and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations.
- Women: The women’s major group statement (which has been signed by a wide range of groups internationally online) focuses on gender equality in all spheres in our society, respect for human rights and social justice, and environmental conservation and protection of human health. During the Summit, the Good Practice Award will be given out by members of the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment. UN Women has been collecting the views and gender perspectives on sustainability and what that means for women around the world through the Rio+20 gender survey, which will be shared at the Summit. The group is coordinated by Women in Europe for a Common Future and Voices of African Mothers. You can also follow their activities by twitter (@Women_Rio20).
- Workers and Trade Unions: The Trade Unions have three key demands for the Rio Summit, which include Green & Decent Jobs, a guarantee for the Social Protection Floor for all the world’s people, with funding to kickstart or strengthen social protection in the poorest countries and create a Financial Transactions Tax to help pay for sustainability. The Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment will be jointly organised with the International Trade Union Confederation from 11-13 June. The best way to stay up to date on activities organised for the Summit by this group is through their twitter feed (@assemblyRio20), Facebook page, website or through their newsletter. The group is coordinated by the International Trade Unions Confederation and Sustainlabour.