Home > How the Earth Works > Setting Rules to Protect Earth (2) What is "Rio+20"?

How the Earth Works

Setting Rules to Protect Earth

(2) What is "Rio+20"?

Citizen's groups at the first Earth Summit in 1992

Citizen's groups at the first Earth Summit in 1992
Photo by Koyu Furusawa

The famous statue called Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro

The famous statue called Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro
Photo by Pedro Kirilos. Some rights reserved.

When you hear the words "UN summit," do you think of a large room filled with elite government officials talking and making decisions about things that have nothing to do with your daily life?

Actually, government officials are not the only people who can attend UN summits. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), indigenous peoples, young adults, and children also take part. This first started at the Earth Summit, a global UN meeting held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This meeting established the concept that discussions about problems like the environment and development should include everyday people. Since then, UN summits have provided various opportunities for people outside of government to participate.

Ten years later, in 2002, the second Earth Summit was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. A third Earth Summit will be held in June this year, once again in Rio de Janeiro. This year's event was named Rio+20 because 20 years have passed since the first Earth Summit.

You might remember that the 1992 Earth Summit is where 12-year-old Severn Cullis-Suzuki astounded adults when she told them in her speech: "If you don't know how to fix the environment, please stop breaking it!" Now an adult and a mother herself, Severn is asking everyone to pay attention to Rio+20 because it is important that we all think about Earth's future.

What world are we living in now? And what possibilities exist for creating a better future? Like Severn, we hope you will join us in thinking about our future.

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