In Rio de Janeiro plans start to take shape before the Earth Summit 2012. One year left, and expectations are not very high. 20 years have passed since the last Rio Conference and the 40 years since the Stockholm Conference which laid the foundation for the Rio Earth Summit 1992. As part of the preparations, I did an interview in Sao Paolo with Roberto Smeraldi, Head of Friends of the Earth in Brazil. He’s not high expectations for the Rio conference but says, that while it does not necessarily mean anything in either positive or negative direction. Brazil has, with a new president, certainly a reason to raise its international profile more than ever.
The great rainforests of the Amazon is a major challenge. It will have a significant role in the coming year’s international discussions. Brazil’s interests will clearly be articulated in the political agenda of Sustainable Development. It is not just about the conservation of rainforest areas, but also about development and resource use.
One of the reasons for my stay in Brazil right now is, in front of the next year’s Rio conference, to plan for an exellent international photo exhibition entitled Hard Rain. The exhibition takes up all the major global challenges that need to find their solutions. And here is no shortage of solutions. The exhibition will help with both inspiration and good examples. There will be a great contribution to the local work in a global context.
An important fact is that cities will play an increasingly important role in the international dialogue on sustainability. This will also be addressed in the exhibiton. The role of local district heating system and renewables will strongly be addressed with solutions in the exhibition. But, the question is whether national governments would give cities the leadership role they would need to have in the international network and actions. You should follow the development in this field also at the websites of ICLEI and C40.
See also my interview with the Mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu.