The MobilizeUS! Top Ten Asks for Rio+20

At the Human Impacts Institute, we’re engaged in organizing a national campaign centered on building awareness and political-will going into Rio+20 (the 2012 Earth Summit), United Nation’s meeting in June of 2012. We are currently working with our partner U.S.-based organizations, such as NRDC, SustainUS,Citizen’s Network for a Sustainable Future and many more to develop a “Top 10 Asks” list for Americans to petition the U.S. government to support at Rio+20. We want to know what you think!

Leadership – Without top leadership at Rio+20, there will be no “big decisions” made on how our globe can transition to a “green economy” and towards healthy community development. The MobilizeUS! campaign is pushing for global, top leadership at the Rio+20 negotiations. In the U.S. we are looking for both President Obama to go and also for our local congresspeople, governors, and mayors to go to Rio+20. The problems of sustainable development and poverty eradication, the themes of next year’s conference, require action through organized and equitable cooperation, and this requires leadership.

Participation – The “first” Rio conference on sustainable development, or Earth Summit, was held twenty years ago. One of the innovative outcomes of the Earth Summit was the establishment of civil society engagement in the decision-making processes for sustainable development through the Major Groups. It’s important that Rio+20 processes include adequate representation from all Major Groups and beyond. We’re interested in pushing for a conference that involves new people, but which also promotes and supports access and equal representation from the world’s nations. The establishment of new web-based and social media tools specifically oriented toward the conference and its outcomes is one step toward this.

Finance – Development costs money. It is important that sharing of costs and burdens be increased between developed and developing countries and must be part of any new agreement at Rio+20.

Law – Many UN negotiations emerge with a lot of talk and not much walk. For every outcome, there needs to be mechanisms for monitoring, evaluation and enforcement. Nothing less can move us forward at the necessary clip.

Science and Technology -It is important that the conference and its outcomes reinforce the importance of new approaches and innovation regarding sustainable development. We support heightened international cooperation, with an emphasis on increased mechanisms for sharing innovation and technology to this end.

Economy and Resources – The outcomes of Rio+20 need to emphasize sustainable practices in production, consumption, and resource management, and acknowledge that our “business as usual” is not adequately addressing the needs of our global communities or using natural resources wisely. These practices must be disseminated and promoted and reinforced by national governments.

Society – Education is key to promoting sustainable behavior at all levels. Rio+20 outcomes need to create infrastructure for broad-reaching environmental education initiatives and access-to-information for consumers, leading to a culture of sustainability.

Registry of Sustainable Actions – In order to learn from each other’s successes and obstacles, we jointly call for an international registry of sustainable actions by individuals, groups, communities, businesses, and governments. The registry must be easily accessible and developed as a open-source registry.

Clear Short and Long-Term Targets – We want real goals to be set. Targets need to be both realistic and ambitious, with an emphasis on action for sustainable development on international and national levels.

A New Look for the U.N – Success next year will help reverse the decline in public perception the UN has suffered after recent “failures” to take joint action on issues of the environment and sustainable development. The U.S. has been a major “missing link” and a root cause of this decline. Strong global action will require faith in our international institutions, which must be reinvigorated.

The MobilizeUS! campaign of the Human Impacts Institute is looking to officially launch in early Fall of 2011 with tools for grassroots advocacy, outreach, and collaboration for citizen engagement and collaboration for strong U.S. leadership at Rio and beyond. We hope you will join us in taking steps in supporting healthy communities and a healthy global economy in the U.S. and beyond. Stay tuned for opportunities to sign petitions, write your representative, host a Rio+20 house party and much more!

By Alex White, 2011 Human Impacts Institute Environmental Leadership Intern

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