This United Nations’ conference on sustainable development which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (13-22 June 2012), has been called Rio+20 because it occurs twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio (1992). Since then all sectors of society have been invited to take part in the event, with the idea that sustainable development cannot be reached by governments alone, but requires the participation of civil society. These groups are asked to actively participate and to make concrete contributions toward the conference goals.
The Focolare Movement took part within its capacity as the NGO, New Humanity – which has consultative status in the Economic and Social Council of the U.N. (ECOSOC); with the support of the Brazilian publishing house Cidade Nova; and the New Humanity Movement. The delegation was made up of 28 experts in the fields of development, ecology, politics, art, communication, economy and sport. They came from several regions of Brazil, Argentina and Germany.
The delegation presented at four events:
- “The Power of business in the service of society” conference held at the “Social Forum on Entrepreneurship in the New Economy” (16 June) during a side event. The Economy of Communion was also presented with an experience of Brazilian entrepreneur Glaison Jose Citadin.
- At the People’s Summit (a side event promoted by the civil society at the Rio+20 Conference) on 16 June, Civitas, the Movement for Unity In Politics’ school of formation, presented the Movement for Unity in Politics and the Economy of Communion in partnership with other organisations.
- At one side even entitled “The Human Being: Heart of a Sustainable City” (19 June 2012), the more than twenty year-long experience of the NGO AVSI was presented in the urban sector of developing countries.
- Finally, on 20-22 June 2012, a series of discussions and side events at the Riocentro Convention Centre, in which the civil society dealt with priority issues in the international agenda for sustainable development. These events were held as side events to the plenary sessions and official meetings between heads of State and of governments.
Many themes were touched upon within the framework of sustainable development: poverty and the environment, the role of women, alternative energy, strategies for combating desertification, food security, unemployment, access to information, international scientific collaboration and indigenous peoples.
Several considerations were mentioned at the end of the conference: concerns about the final document, “The Future We Want” because of its unclear goals; but optimism over the involvement of civil society. “The issue of sustainability is the greatest possibility of contemporary humanity as a whole rather than as a fragmented world, in constant competition and conflict,” stated Adriana Rocha, Brazilian artist and painter, president of the NGO Afago (Sao Paulo) and member of the delegation. Andres Porta, Argentine chemist, research professor at the University de la Plata and member of EcoOne said: “What I think is still lacking is listening and dialogue between the positions of developed countries and the developing ones, between the ideas and values of capitalism and those of indigenous peoples and other minorities.” Proposed improvements: Continue to work with formation courses for young people as a basis for dialogue at international meetings on a more vast scale.