For Media

Hotels for Press
Accommodation levels in Rio de Janeiro are anticipated to be at full occupancy during the conference. While it is not the responsibility of the United Nations to procure accommodation for the media, it should be noted that the Brazilian national organizing committee for Rio+20 has committed to blocking a minimum of 500 hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro for media covering the conference. Costs must be covered by the media. For more details, visit: http://www.rio20.gov.br For information regarding room availability please contact: Terramar Travel Agency

Emails: reservas2@terramar.tur.br or reservas4@terramar.tur.br or reservas8@terramar.tur.br

Tel: (+55+21) 35120067 or (+55+11) 30142042 or (+55+19) 35145600

Media representatives must present their approval letter and copy rio20.hoteis@itamaraty.gov.br when requesting their accommodations.

Information

How Rio+20 can herald a constitutional moment
Governments have a historic opportunity this June to create the institutions needed to fulfill the promise made at the 1992 Earth Summit. The Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development should mark nothing less than a constitutional moment, putting the planet on a more sustainable path. But, it is in grave danger of being stillborn, lacking the political will to commit to the transformations required to collectively thrive within planetary boundaries.

The need for action hardly needs rehearsing. To put it bluntly, humanity is demanding more of the Earth than it can supply, sending us toward tipping points beyond which the planet's air, water and other natural systems can't recover.

The current structures can't cope with this new reality, as was underscored by the disappointing outcome of the recent climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa. Despite the more than 900 environmental treaties in the past 40 years, human-induced environmental degradation continues, reaching levels that prompted the International Council for Science (ICSU) to warn last year that we have "reached a point in history at which a prerequisite for development ? the continued functioning of the Earth system as we know it ? is at risk."

While the science could not be clearer, far less systematic attention is devoted to assessing the governance reforms required.

How to create a "constitutional moment" will be a focus of the ICSU-sponsored Planet Under Pressure conference in London later this month. There, some 3,000 experts on global change and sustainability will provide a state of the planet assessment, discuss concepts for planetary stewardship and societal and economic transformation, and prescribe a route to global sustainability.

As our input into that process, we, together with 30 other leading scholars from around the world, undertook the first independent assessment of the state of environmental and sustainable development governance, with our summary findings appearing in the journal Science today. Our overarching conclusion: tinkering won't be enough. The situation requires a fundamental transformation of existing practices..

First, the largely ineffective and politically paralysed UN Commission on Sustainable Development should be replaced by a high-level council under the UN general assembly, to better handle emerging issues such as water, climate, energy and food security, natural disasters and the linkages among them, and to fully integrate environmental, economic and social sustainability goals. To be effective, the world's largest economies ? the G20 - should hold 50% of the votes, with the rest distributed among smaller states.

Second, environmental and social goals must be mainstreamed into the activities of all global economic institutions. This avoids the current situation where their activities undermine gains achieved by environmental treaties because of poor policy coherence. This will require meaningful high-level dialogue among economic development and environmental institutions and the same government ministers ? especially of finance or treasuries ? to attend such dialogues to ensure consistent national engagement at the highest levels. The UN Sustainable Development Council that we propose could host such dialogues.

Third, the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme should be elevated to a fully fledged international organisation with a status similar to the World Health Organisation ? a step that would give it greater authority, more secure funding and facilitate the creation and enforcement of international regulations and standards. Such a change should not be simply symbolic, but include mobilisation of resources to properly monitor the state of the planet including socioeconomic indicators.

While our proposals focus first on intergovernmental institutions, they aim to facilitate necessary transformations at the national level, where decisions must be made on how best to respond to local needs.

Similarly, reforms must send more consistent signals and incentives to the private sector to engage and invest in the necessary transformation to a green economy. For example, governments must close regulatory gaps at the global level, including in the development and deployment of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering.

Finally, the environment crisis is part of a wider set of issues; including poverty, financial and political instability, and uneven economic development. This interconnectedness increases our collective vulnerability. It makes effective earth system governance even more imperative.
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