Rio+20: an introduction for children and youth from Rio+twenties on Vimeo.

The event marked the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development  in Johannesburg.

The outcome document from Rio+20 was called “The future we want

You can find out more here:

Why did Rio+20 matter?

Our one planet is reaching its limits. Our population has reached 7 billion and we are not using our limited resources sustainably. We have the solutions, we know the problems and we need to change our patterns now!

Some key outcomes from Rio+20 were:

1) The 10 year framework for programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10FYP)
2) Sustainable Development Goals

“Transitioning to more sustainable patterns of consumption and production is at the heart of sustainable development, and international co-operation is essential to effect that transition.”
-United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)

Ever heard of the Earth Summit? 

The first Earth Summit was held almost 20 years ago. It was a gathering of 170 governments and 2400 representatives from civil society – more than 17,000 people come together to discuss creating a sustainable future. It was the first of its kind: the UN Conference on Environment and Development.

Held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, delegates created a vision of a sustainable world, and developed key documents that outlined what steps needed to be taken to attain it: Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Forest Principles, the Convention on Drought and Desertification,and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The formation of the UNFCCC was an important achievement, which led to the development of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Earth Summit also established the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Functioning under ECOSOC, its mandate was to monitor international treaties on the environment, provide policy direction, and coordinate action within the United Nations system to achieve the goals of Agenda 21 annually.

Now, 20 years have gone by and it is time to reflect on the progress we’ve made and the work that still needs to be done. welcome to Rio+20.

At the end of June 2012, Rio+20 will take place in Brazil.

There are some key objectives; securing political commitment, assessing progress, and discussing new and emerging challenges. But it is so much more than that. It is an exciting opportunity. It is our chance to actively voice how the world should be. It is your vision, your future, your energy, your possibility.

Rio+20 is you.

There are two main themes being discussed: the Green Economy and an Institutional Framework for sustainable development. We will be developing new policy to shape our future, and your voice will be represented.

we need you to take action.

The ways to get involved in Rio+20 are limitless. You will need to be proactive, creative, you will need to have vision and work in a spirit of collaboration. If you have ideas, we want to hear them. If you have opinions, we want to record them. We have teams working in different areas to ensure we represent the voice of children and youth and we invite you to be part of this process.

How does something like the Rio+20 Earth Summit come about? Here we will explain the process the UN has put in place as a build up to Rio+20 which includes:

  • Background
  • CSd-19
  • Regional Preparatory Meetings
  • Draft Zero Submission
  • Intersessionals
  • Informal negotiations


At the end of 2009, the UN General Assembly decided (A/RES/64/236) to organise a High-Level Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 in Brazil. The conference would come 20 years after Rio, which initially put sustainable development on the global agenda. Agenda 21, established at the 1992 Conference, created an impetus for sustainable development as well as giving a substantial commitment to the participation of all stakeholders, including youth and children, in it’s governance. Next to this, it established the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD) and brought political momentum to three conventions: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Biodiversity (CBD) and Drought and Desertification (CCDD). The international community met ten years later in the Johannesburg Conference, which produced a less political and more technical follow-up in the Johannesburg Programme on Implementation.

The 2012 conference, dubbed Rio+20, aims to renew the political commitment to sustainable development at a global level. The conference will discuss the process up to date, address remaining implementation gaps as well as politically new and emerging challenges. The focus of Rio+20 will be ‘a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication’ next to revitalising the institutional framework for sustainable development. There seems to be an overall commitment to make Rio+20 a much more political event than Johannesburg, and to move issues forward politically upstream rather than on a technical level.

The Johannesburg meeting only foresaw the next high-level conference in 2017. However, when the UN General Assembly mandated the Rio+20 conference to take place earlier, it recognised (implicitly) the urgency to bolster international action for sustainable development. Hence, the little time available to prepare for Rio+20 created a lot of confusion while only little time was foreseen to reach the (potentially) ambitious goals of the conference. With this note the Organising Partners of the Major Group for Children and Youth want to support children, young people and their organisations by clarifying the process. Please note that this information is subject to change.

The road map to Rio – March 2011 to June 2012

The original resolution called for 3 preparatory meetings to happen, the 1st prepcomm (March 17 – March 18) added three intersessionals to the process. More recently the 2nd prepcomm provided more clarity on the overall process, adding amongst others 3 weeks of informal negotiations to the process.

We will present the road map to the Rio Conference, and then provide further comments and interpretation what the various meetings may mean. In addition, the note also lists a number of meetings that will take place in addition to the official meetings. In our understanding these meetings will also provide opportunities for the larger stakeholder community to discuss and further deepen the understanding of the Rio plus 20 issues.

“Mandated” meetings

First are the meetings that have been designated as official elements in the preparatory process. These are called ‘Mandated’ – as these meetings will have the formal authority to bring the process forward and develop the content.


2 – 13 May, Commission on Sustainable Development 19, New York

This meeting was not been scheduled to deal with the Rio+20 process, but many  informal discussions on Rio 2012 took place since the Secretariat to the CSD  is also part of the Secretariat to Rio+20. Some side events were devoted to the Rio process.

September – December – the five Regional Preparatory Meetings

The five Regional Preparatory Meetings will be organised in the five economic commissions of the UN in close collaboration with other UN entities and regional partners. These will all be seen as making important contributions to the Rio+20 process. These meetings will all provide opportunities for local and regional stakeholders to make their voice heard. The intention of these meetings is also to make sure the regional concerns are reflected in the outcome of the Conference, and the move of the 2nd intersessional from November to mid-December (see under), also signals to the regions that their contributions are of importance.

The meetings had similar structure: one full day with Major Groups and two days of consultations/deliberations among governments and other stakeholders including the Major Groups. The Bureau has at its own meetings underscored the need to intensify regional preparatory activities and asked the regional commissions to explore the possibility of undertaking such activities even at sub-regional levels.

  • 7 – 9 September: Latin America. Santiago, Chile.
  • 16 – 17 October: Arab Region. Cairo, Egypt.
  • 19 – 20 October: Asia Pacific Region. Seoul, Korea.
  • 20 – 25 October: Africa. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • 1 – 2 December: Europe and North America. Geneva, Switzerland.

1 November

Deadline for the written contribution to the zero draft of the outcome document. The zero draft will be a compilation of all received input from stakeholders, and will form the initial basis for negotiation.

15-16 December, 2nd Intersessional, New York

The 2nd intersessional meeting, originally scheduled to take place mid November, has now been moved to mid December. This was done partly to take into serious consideration the outcome documents from the five regional meetings and to see how the outcome document from COP 17 would play a role. The meetings will discuss the compiled inputs so far, including the structure of the outcome document. The important issue that will be raised at this meeting is to seek clarification on the discussion of the objectives of the Conference vis-a-vis the two themes.


16 – 18 January, Draft Zero, New York

The Zero Draft of the outcome document will now be made available for all to read. Additionally, a three day meeting will also be held. The meeting will be one of the “informal informals”, meaning they should not tax existing resources. A consequence of this may be that the meetings will be in English only. The meeting has no formal decision making power.

13 – 17 February, 1st Informal Negotiations, New York

The first informal negotiating week on the Zero Draft of the outcome document to be held at the UN headquarters in New York; the dates are so far not specified. The meeting will be informal informals (see above for explanation).

19 – 23 March, 2nd Informal Negotiations, New York

The second informal negotiating week on the Zero Document to be held at the UN in New York. The meeting will be informal informals (see above for explanation)

26 – 27 March, 3rd Intersessional, New York


30 April – 4 May, 3rd Informal Negotiations, New York

The third and last of the informal negotiating weeks to be held at the UN headquarters in New York. The meeting will be informal informals.

13 – 15 June, 3rd Prepcomm, Rio, Brazil

Also designated to include a high level segment with and for Ministers.

15 – 30 June, Conference of the Middle, Rio, Brazil

A time of informals and other special activities (e.g. major groups led ones) between the third prepcomm and the UN CSD in Rio. This ‘conference of the middle’ will probably exert significant influence into the Rio+20 agenda.

20 – 22 June, Rio+20, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Session 20 – Rio+20.

 follow the UN CSD Rio+20 official calendar and keep up to date with the changes.

Other important events to take into consideration are:

  • 3 – 5 September 64th UN DPI Conference, Bonn, Germany on the Rio plus 20 process and voluntarism. The UN Department of Public Information (UN DPI) will organise in Bonn, Germany, in September, a civil society conference that will be a massive manifestation for this sector. UN DPI expects around 1500 NGOs to participate in this meeting, and the themes will focus on the Rio plus 20 agenda.
  • 21 – 23 September 7th “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference, Astana, Kazakhstan. The meeting in Kazakhstan organised under the mantle of Environment for Europe has as one of its key agenda points consumption and production and green economy. Besides global participation, the meeting will provide opportunities for stakeholders in that part of the world to participate, and work towards making the outcome from this conference relevant to the Zero Draft of the document.
  • November – 2nd Committee of the UN General Assembly, New York. The 2nd committee of the UN General Assembly will discuss the Rio process, focus on structure of the document and process.
  • 28 November – 9 December, COP 17, Durban, South Africa. COP 17 in Durban South Africa will be the last organised climate meeting under the auspices of UNFCCC before the timeline set up by the Kyoto protocol is up.
  • 20 – 22 February 2012, UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF), Nairobi, Kenya. This meeting will undoubtedly be devoted to the upcoming Rio+20 meeting. The place for this conference is not yet decided, three governments have expressed an interest in hosting the meeting.

Want to download this and share it for other youth? Click [here].


What did the draft zero document from MGCY say? View our contribution here.

  • Want an overview of our key points? View our summary document here.


If you want to get involved in policy, join a task force. We need minds who are interested in the topics and have a passion for pushing forward policy.



Here’s an overview of each task force and how to get involved. It will be fun; together we will advocate for change and together we will succeed.


Green Economy in the context of Poverty Eradication


Here’s a summary of what the MGCY Green Economy Task Force has been lobbying for:

  • Youth unemployment must be reduced through the creation of green jobs with a living wage and the stronger consideration of the impact of employment policy on youth.
  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) must equip the next generation of youth with skills, training and capacity to help create the Green Economy.  
  • A ‘low carbon future’ that promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency with SMART targets needs to be prioritized. It should be supported by the removal of harmful subsidies that result in unsustainable practices.
  • The creation of a Global Technology Sharing Facility that enhance sharing of information to enable prior assessments and monitors technology at the global scale.
  • We need strong legislative and executive actions by governments to promote the sustainable development of our Blue Economy, including ‘no-take zones’, a moratorium on mineral exploration in the Arctic and proper mechanisms for shared water resources conflicts.
  • A transition towards a green, fair and people-centered agriculture that promotes sustainable food systems that preserves the environment. Respect of traditional farming and indigenous knowledge.

What is the green economy? Are you passionate about it? Do you have a basic idea and want to learn more? Or do you just have a great idea and are interested contributing to developing it further–then this is the group for you! Join:


Here’s a summary of what the MGCY Governance Task Force has been lobbying for:

  • The establishment at national level of Ombudspersons for Future Generations and of an independent Office of the UN High Commissioner for Future Generations.
  • Increase participation of all stakeholders, particularly youth, in sustainable development processes and the adoption of principle 10 of the Rio 1992 Declaration with the inclusion of a compliance mechanism, on the model of the Aarhus Convention.
  • The establishment of a World Environmental Court to take decisions related to the noncompliance of national obligations under international environmental law.
  • The establishment of an Intergovernmental Panel on Sustainable Development that functions that will design the sustainable development research agenda for the 21st century.
  • The immediate establishment of a Council on Sustainable Development as a subsidiary to the UN General Assembly, with the authority to adopt legally binding decisions.
  • The establishment by 2015, of a permanent, legally-binding Global Commons Trust. 
  • Upgrading UNEP into a new UN Environmental Organisation with the status of specialised UN agency with the capacity to supervise all environmental sustainability initiatives within the UN.

Do you think that there needs to be better monitoring of what is going on? Do you think that a lot of work being done globally overlaps? Do you think the Sustainable Structures could be better if there was institutional frameworks? Do you think there needs to be a dedicated UN Agency for the environment? Do you think UNEP needs to be strengthened / not? If yes to any of these questions then this is the group for you… Join:


Here’s a summary of what the MGCY Objectives Task Force has been lobbying for:

  • All agreed upon commitments from previous CSD cycles must be implemented and incorporated into National Sustainable Development Strategy. IFIS must incorporate and implement policy recommendations from Rio+20.
  • The adoption of a 10 Year Framework of Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production by 2013 and ensuring its integration into policies and law by 2015.
  • Institutions that work on economic, social and human rights issues must integrate the environment perspective into their work, though interagency networks to facilitate communication and coordination among all UN actors.
    • Benefits: redefined enforcement of SD agreements, donor coordination, effective monitoring and evaluation of policies, identification of implementation gaps, assessments of progress, and new forum for emerging challenges.
  • The water-food-energy security nexus must be incorporated in the Rio+20 discussions, particularly when developing strategies for the green economy. This will promote an efficient use of resources to avoid worsening crises that impact youth and children.
  • Member states must establish evaluation and monitoring mechanisms to determine the effectiveness of policies from agreements made at the SD summits.
    • Developing an integrated regional reporting system with clear SD indicators to build accountability and ownership of policy solutions.


Do you know what the objectives of Rio+20 are? Do you have an opinion on what that should mean? What are the minimum things that Rio+20 has to achieve for Children and Youth? Do you have ideas on how to address new and emerging challenges in Sustainable Development? Or how to implement what is agreed at Rio+20? Then this is your group! Join:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s