In Rio de Janeiro, 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) brought together over 170 governments and 2,400 representatives from non-government organizations to discuss the growing concerns of climate change, water scarcity, public transportation, alternative energy, and the production of toxic substances. Now known as the Rio Earth Summit, this conference indirectly led to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which challenged the world to reduce greenhouse gases. The U.S. has yet to ratify this legislation, and, because of this, Canada withdrew from the agreement in December of 2011. The Canadian Environmental Minister, Peter Kent said, “The Kyoto Protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters, United States and China, and therefore cannot work.” (China was not covered because in 1997 it was recognized as a developing nation, and therefore was not subject to such stringent regulations.)
June 20th 2012 will mark the beginning of the RIO+20 Earth Summit. The UN has highlighted seven areas of priority concern for this second gathering of political leaders: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans and disasters. “Governments are 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,” according to a statement from UNCED. It is our turn to make an impact and do something about the issues affecting the environment. The event will be webcast and all are encouraged to visit the website to vote on policy solutions.