The countdown to Rio de Janeiro's 2012 Earth Summit begins today, or at least it would, if it was on your radar. With 100 days left, environmentalists and urbanists should take notice of the international conference where major non-governmental organizations will meet to take on environmental issues impacting the globe, argues Lind.
Occurring every ten years, the summit has produced significant initiatives and agreements meant to tackle worldwide environmental challenges. "In 1992, at the last summit held in Rio, more than 170 countries and 2,400 NGO representatives convened to discuss issues of biodiversity, deforestation, public transportation, oceans and other environmental topics. That event is probably best known for producing Agenda 21; it set forward a plan to avoid environmental degradation by protecting resources and settling the tab between carbon-intensive "global north" countries and the considerably greener "global south."
Lind explains that there are several reasons for urbanists to pay attention this year. The conference will take on new agenda topics, concentrating on urbanization and its consequences, as well as promoting the green economy. It will also provide an avenue for other stakeholders to call for environmental action. "This means that mayors and urban policy NGOs have a chance to put forward their ideas for more sustainable development. Some larger NGOs, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, have drafted serious and thorough propositions that the whole urban affairs community should think about."
Next American City will publish pieces relating to the conference every other week until it commences at the end of June.