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The ESDN Quarterly Reports provide in-depth documentation of a selected topic on a quarterly basis. The current ESDN Quarterly Report is displayed below. For previous ESDN Quarterly Reports click here.

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ESDN Quarterly Report June 2012

The Rio+20 Conference 2012: Objectives, processes and outcomes

by Umberto Pisano, Andreas Endl & Gerald Berger

Being published soon after the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 (Rio+20) that took place on 20-22 June 2012, this ESDN Quarterly Report (QR) provides a comprehensive overview of the road to the Rio+20 and what the outcomes the conference produced.  

The introductory chapter of this QR provides an overview about the concept of global sustainable development (SD) governance and its links with the UN system as well as the large array of actors that are involved in it. In the second chapter, a brief history of the various UN environmental and SD mega-conferences is portrayed. This will provide an extensive background and will help to understand the background for the Rio+20 Conference.

The third chapter summarizes what happened in the negotiations prior to Rio+20 and how the conference came into form, its objectives and the main two themes taken into consideration: firstly, a green economy in the context of SD and poverty eradication; and, secondly, the institutional framework for SD. These two themes are substantially analysed and described. In addition, a thorough examination of the development process of an international set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is included in this chapter. Additionally, a particular focus has been devoted to the European Union and its position toward SD, especially in the context of the Rio+20 Conference.

The report then offers a dedicated and meticulous analysis of the text of the final Rio+20 outcome document, entitled “The future we want”, where a number of interesting reflections are suggested. Additionally, an unusual analysis of the outcome document is proposed; known as word-cloud analysis, the outcome document of Rio+20 is compared with the  ‘Zero draft’ document (January 2012), the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002) and of the ‘Rio declaration’ (1992).

Finally, some conclusions and reflections are suggested at the end of the report where we propose an interesting way to understand, assess and judge the conference and its outcomes.

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