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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Rio+20?

Rio+20 - the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 - was an historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.

Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 - a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection - the UN brought again governments, international institutions and major groups together to agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.

Rio+20 was a chance to move away from business-as-usual and to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future.

What issues were discussed?

The official discussions focused on two main themes: How to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty, including support for developing countries that will allow them to find a green path for development; and how to improve international coordination for sustainable development.

What happened at Rio+20?

Thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders gathered in Rio at the end of May and beginning of June 2012 for a strong push towards sustainable development.

The last session of the Preparatory Committee for the Conference and the actual conference took place there in June 2012.

In parallel with and between the official events, there were numerous side events, exhibitions, presentations, fairs and announcements by a wide range of partners.

Governments were expected to adopt clear and focused practical measures for implementing sustainable development, based on the many examples of success we have seen over the last 20 years.

About the Rio+20 Conference

At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, came together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) was organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236, and took place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.

The Rio+20 Conference was envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government or other representatives. The Conference resulted in a focused political document.

Themes of the Conference

The Conference focused on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Seven priority areas

The preparations for Rio+20 highlighted seven areas which needed priority attention; these included decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

How was Rio+20 organized

Rio+20 represented a joint endeavor of the entire UN System. A dedicated Secretariat was responsible for coordinating and facilitating inputs to the preparatory process from all UN bodies. The Rio+20 Secretariat was housed in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and headed by Conference Secretary-General Sha Zukang, who was supported by two Executive Coordinators: Elizabeth Thompson (former Minister of Environment of Barbados) and Ambassador Brice Lalonde (Former Minister of Environment of France). The preparatory process was led by an 11-member Bureau composed of UN Ambassadors from all regions of the world. The host country, Brazil, led the logistical preparations on the ground.

What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Seen as the guiding principle for long-term global development, sustainable development consists of three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection.