Rio +20 Commemorates the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, also known as the Rio Earth Summit.
Rio +20 is happening after years of various United Nations initiatives that were proposed to eliminate poverty and to solve problems related to the degradation and exploitation of natural resources. Sustainable development and the creation of the green economy is seen as a way for us to address social, environmental, and economic issues of our time in the most comprehensive and inclusive way possible.
What is expected?
There are seven critical issues that are going to be discussed at the Rio +20 Conference.These issues are jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans, and disasters. It is expected that at Rio, there will be quite a bit of intense discussions about what has or should we say what hasn’t happened in respective countries since the last time that government leaders convened in Rio twenty years ago. Rio +20 is not just about the present, but it is definitely about the future and what needs to happen to make our ideas about a sustainable future a reality in such a time where it is an urgency and necessity for survival.
What is happening?
Right now there have been a series of negotiations leading up to Rio+20 where many of the major topics and issues have already been discussed and are currently in heated debate. One of the recent of these meetings has been a Climate Change Meeting in Bonn Germany. Many of the discussions at this meeting were a continuation of some of the work coming out of COP17 in Durban, South Africa. More work was done to refine and get a better understanding of what will happen with the Kyoto Protocol, and the continued struggle to ensure that some kind of commitments are made by developed and developing countries as it relates to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in the transfer of technological information and support in order to provide adaptation mechanisms for climate change and global warming. These topics have been met with controversy and challenges. According to a press release that summarized some of the findings from the Bonn Climate Change Meeting, we are reaching the threshold period of no return in terms of hopes of keeping the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees celsius.
I have a deep interest in Rio +20 because of its implications to the current work I do related to green jobs and youth. I currently work for an organization that seeks to train and prepare young adults for green jobs.One of the key issues at Rio will be jobs, energy, and cities. Each of these topics I believe can provide a lot of opportunities for youth of color (that have experienced some challenges to access of science, technology, engineering, and math careers) and for communities that have experienced environmental injustices.
I am deeply concerned about what access young adults and youth of color will have to opportunities that are expected to come from the green economy. With so many economic and educational challenges we face in frontline communities, I am concerned that we will continue to leave behind the most marginalized and excluded populations as the green economy grows. I have had the opportunity to be a part of a lot of amazing green job training programs, and I want to see being discussed at Rio a true commitment to supporting and making those job opportunities a reality. I want to see increased support for green job training, but also culturally relevant green education that is integrated in all classrooms and teaches young people no matter what their race or socioeconomic status is, the possibilities there are for them to have a green career.