Questions and answers about Rio+20

Updated December 2011

Here are some questions and answers about the conference taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, late June 2012.

What is Rio+20?
Rio+20 is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. It will take place 20–22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A broad range of actors from all over the world will come together to discuss how to promote social and economic development while protecting the environment. It will focus on two themes: green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Why is it called Rio+20?
Rio+20 is a follow-up to previous UN conferences on sustainable development, and will be held on the 20th anniversary of the first of these. This was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and culminated in Agenda 21, a plan of action for sustainable development in the 21st century. Rio+20 is to evaluate the progress made in the last 20 years, as well as discuss new challenges that have since arisen.

What are Norway’s aspirations for Rio+20?
It is important for Norway that Rio+20 is a success and produces concrete results in terms of poverty reduction and environmental protection. We hope that Rio+20 will renew political commitment to sustainable development. Norway will seek to ensure that we reach agreement on sustainability targets and concrete measures to promote access to sustainable energy for all. If we are to achieve the goal of sustainable development, we must do more to make it attractive for countries to choose greener development strategies.

What is sustainable development?
Sustainable development was defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” in the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, which was presented by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987. Greener, more sustainable development means ensuring that we exert less pressure on the environment than has been the case in our economic development to date. This will require changes in the way we use energy and resources, amongst other things.

What is green economy?
So far, it has not been possible to reach agreement in the Rio conferences on a definition of the concept “green economy”. Norway regards green economy as an instrument for promoting sustainable development. It relates to approaches to economic policy and development that take environmental limits and the risk of climate change more fully into account, in tandem with poverty reduction and efforts to promote gender equality and decent work. Norway has suggested that Rio+20 should create a toolkit of measures and proposals and put the international community in a position to support countries that wish to develop green strategies for long-term welfare. We attach importance to each individual country being able to choose its own strategy and tools.

How do the proposed Sustainable Development Goals relate to the Millennium Development Goals?
Norway supports Colombia’s and Guatemala’s proposal that Rio+20 should develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The idea is that these should complement the MDGs, which should also be broadened to promote sustainable development. The proposal could form the basis for valuable input from Rio+20 to the discussion on the post-2015 agenda and could provide impetus for enhanced efforts on the MDGs.