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TOURING RIO+20: Part 2
By Ariane Janér
RIO+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, is underway. An estimated 50,000 delegates will be in town to discuss green economy, governance, and a myriad of other social and environmental issues, with the goal of helping the world get back on the right track for sustainable development.
The main venue is the Riocentro, a very big conference and trade fair centre in de Janeiro. This is where the official RIO+20 conference is taking place, and only representatives of participating governments and UN accredited organizations are allowed to walk the corridors. The word is negotiations are very tough. Developing countries say they need money to implement changes and developed countries say they have no money. We're in the middle of a global financial crisis, after all. Brazil has now proposed a watered-downed text and will work hard to get it approved.
Across from the Riocentro is the Parque das Atletas (where Rock in Rio took place), part of the venues to host the 2016 Olympic games. Here, there are many country and company pavilions highlighting sustainable technologies. There is much to browse and learn here, but the two times I was there, it was quite empty. Offsite parallel events, like discussions on progress in conservation areas in Brazil, are held here. There is a "plastic wood factory", where you can watch the whole process from plastic separation to plastic planks. I was particularly charmed by the naturally coloured organic cotton truffula trees.
Truffula Trees at Parque das Atletas
Further out the Indians have established a village called Kari-oca. I haven't been there, but there are many Indians in the Flamengo Park where the Cupula dos Povos (Summit of the Peoples) is. Here you can run the whole gamut of causes and have fun with live statues, poetry readers, spiritual renewal sessions.
Native crafts displayed at Flamengo Park
Big on the agenda here is the ongoing fight not to let Brazil take a step backward with a new Forest Code, which is threatening to become a partchwork of bad and good ideas, that can only lead to legal uncertainties. I also listened to a very interesting talk by Gerard Moss of the Flying Rivers. Did you know that there are enormous 'rivers' flying overhead in the form of water vapour from the Amazon to the agricultural areas of the South, Southeast and Centre West of Brazil? Thanks to the Amazon, Brazil's agriculture only depends for 5% on irrigation and for 95% on rainfall. The Amazon is an integral part of a healthy Brazilian economy and also a great place to visit.
One such place is the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in the Amazon Basin. Their work, of which ecotourism is a small part, is on display on the Pier Mauá at the Rio waterfront. The Ministry of Science and Technology has put on a great exhibition there with showcasing both innovative companies with sustainable technologies and the biomes of Brazil. There are also exhibitions in the Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil, the Postal Museam and others. But I haven't had a chance to go there yet, so I’ll get the details to you later this week.
Where I have been is at the marvelous Humanidade 2012 at the Fort of Copacabana. This is a business initiative, which offers different exhibition rooms that invites visitors to stroll through the history of man and nature. Lectures, seminars and debates will bring the discussions Rio+20 discussions to Copacabana and available to the general public. Thanks to a well-known Brazilian set designer who created an imaginative and interactive exhibition, this has become a crowd favorite. Apparently you now have to wait hours in line (I went before the word got out, fortunately). Hopefully the exhibition will be extended. In my next post I will talk about the tourism events that will be held in the coming days and also about big events and tourism.
Human Diversity room at Humanidade 2012
Ariane Janér reporting from Rio de Janeiro, the marvelous city. Ariane is a member of the Board of Advisors for The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). Send your questions to ariane[at]ecobrasil.org.br
More About Rio+20
Rio+20 - the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 - marks the 20th anniversary of 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 Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development. The preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention; these include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.