South Africa


  • Service: Advisory, Risk & Compliance, Sustainability Services
  • Type: Publication series
  • Date: 2012/06/13

Sustainable Insight 

Return to Rio: Briefing on the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
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The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development takes place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

More than 50 000 participants from governments, businesses, NGOs and lobby groups are expected to convene in the Brazilian city with intentions of


  • renewing global political commitment to sustainable development
  • assessing progress on sustainable development to date
  • addressing new and emerging challenges.


The high-level segment of the conference, attended by Heads of State and Government, will take place from 20-22 June. This will be preceded by civil society dialogues on 16-19 June and a preparatory meeting on 13-15 June. A Business Day, focused on the role of trade and investment in sustainable development, will take place on 19 June. (For more information see page 8, Sustainable Insight: What role is business playing in the Rio+20 process?)


Comparisons are inevitably drawn between this year’s Rio+20 Summit and the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The 1992 Summit put the issue of sustainable development into the public spotlight and sent it soaring up the international political and business agendas. It resulted in two legally-binding global treaties – on climate change and biodiversity – and a number of other important agreements such as Agenda 21 (see page 10: What did the 1992 Earth Summit achieve?).


These treaties and agreements created or accelerated many sustainability initiatives and concepts that most businesses today are familiar with: from carbon credits and trading to industry sector sustainability frameworks and international efforts to address forest loss and dwindling fish stocks. As such, the Earth Summit in 1992 arguably changed the world and the way we do business.