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the process

How does something like the Rio+20 Earth Summit come about? Here we will explain the process the UN has put in place as a build up to Rio+20 which includes:

    Regional Preparatory Meetings
    Draft Zero Submission
    Informal negotiations


At the end of 2009, the UN General Assembly decided (A/RES/64/236) to organise a High-Level Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 in Brazil. The conference would come 20 years after Rio, which initially put sustainable development on the global agenda. Agenda 21, established at the 1992 Conference, created an impetus for sustainable development as well as giving a substantial commitment to the participation of all stakeholders, including youth and children, in it's governance. Next to this, it established the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD) and brought political momentum to three conventions: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Biodiversity (CBD) and Drought and Desertification (CCDD). The international community met ten years later in the Johannesburg Conference, which produced a less political and more technical follow-up in the Johannesburg Programme on Implementation.

The 2012 Conference, dubbed Rio+20, aims to renew the political commitment to sustainable development at a global level. The conference will discuss the process up to date, address remaining implementation gaps as well as politically new and emerging challenges. The focus of Rio+20 will be 'a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication' next to revitalising the institutional framework for sustainable development. There seems to be an overall commitment to make Rio+20 a much more political event than Johannesburg, and to move issues forward politically upstream rather than on a technical level.

The Johannesburg meeting only foresaw the next high-level conference in 2017. However, when the UN General Assembly mandated the Rio+20 conference to take place earlier, it recognised (implicitly) the urgency to bolster international action for sustainable development. Hence, the little time available to prepare for Rio+20 created a lot of confusion while only little time was foreseen to reach the (potentially) ambitious goals of the conference. With this note the Organising Partners of the Major Group for Children and Youth want to support children, young people and their organisations by clarifying the process. Please note that this information is subject to change.

The road map to Rio – March 2011 to June 2012

The original resolution called for 3 preparatory meetings to happen, the 1st prepcomm (March 17 – March 18) added three intersessionals to the process. More recently the 2nd prepcomm provided more clarity on the overall process, adding amongst others 3 weeks of informal negotiations to the process.

We will present the road map to the Rio Conference, and then provide further comments and interpretation what the various meetings may mean. In addition, the note also lists a number of meetings that will take place in addition to the official meetings. In our understanding these meetings will also provide opportunities for the larger stakeholder community to discuss and further deepen the understanding of the Rio plus 20 issues.

"Mandated" meetings

First are the meetings that have been designated as official elements in the preparatory process. These are called 'Mandated' – as these meetings will have the formal authority to bring the process forward and develop the content.


2 – 13 May, Commission on Sustainable Development 19, New York

This meeting was not been scheduled to deal with the Rio+20 process, but many informal discussions on Rio 2012 took place since the Secretariat to the CSD is also part of the Secretariat to Rio+20. Some side events were devoted to the Rio process.

September – December – the five Regional Preparatory Meetings

The five Regional Preparatory Meetings will be organised in the five economic commissions of the UN in close collaboration with other UN entities and regional partners. These will all be seen as making important contributions to the Rio+20 process. These meetings will all provide opportunities for local and regional stakeholders to make their voice heard. The intention of these meetings is also to make sure the regional concerns are reflected in the outcome of the Conference, and the move of the 2nd intersessional from November to mid-December (see under), also signals to the regions that their contributions are of importance.

The meetings had similar structure: one full day with Major Groups and two days of consultations/deliberations among governments and other stakeholders including the Major Groups. The Bureau has at its own meetings underscored the need to intensify regional preparatory activities and asked the regional commissions to explore the possibility of undertaking such activities even at sub-regional levels.

    7 – 9 September: Latin America. Santiago, Chile.
    16 – 17 October: Arab Region. Cairo, Egypt.
    19 – 20 October: Asia Pacific Region. Seoul, Korea.
    20 – 25 October: Africa. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
    1 – 2 December: Europe and North America. Geneva, Switzerland.

1 November

Deadline for the written contribution to the zero draft of the outcome document. The zero draft will be a compilation of all received input from stakeholders, and will form the initial basis for negotiation.

15-16 December, 2nd Intersessional, New York

The 2nd intersessional meeting, originally scheduled to take place mid November, has now been moved to mid December. This was done partly to take into serious consideration the outcome documents from the five regional meetings and to see how the outcome document from COP 17 would play a role. The meetings will discuss the compiled inputs so far, including the structure of the outcome document. The important issue that will be raised at this meeting is to seek clarification on the discussion of the objectives of the Conference vis-a-vis the two themes.


16 – 18 January, Draft Zero, New York

The Zero Draft of the outcome document will now be made available for all to read. Additionally, a three day meeting will also be held. The meeting will be one of the "informal informals", meaning they should not tax existing resources. A consequence of this may be that the meetings will be in English only. The meeting has no formal decision making power.

13 – 17 February, 1st Informal Negotiations, New York

The first informal negotiating week on the Zero Draft of the outcome document to be held at the UN headquarters in New York; the dates are so far not specified. The meeting will be informal informals (see above for explanation).

19 – 23 March, 2nd Informal Negotiations, New York

The second informal negotiating week on the Zero Document to be held at the UN in New York. The meeting will be informal informals (see above for explanation).

26 – 27 March, 3rd Intersessional, New York

30 April – 4 May, 3rd Informal Negotiations, New York

The third and last of the informal negotiating weeks to be held at the UN headquarters in New York. The meeting will be informal informals.

13 – 15 June, 3rd Prepcomm, Rio, Brazil

Also designated to include a high level segment with and for Ministers.

15 – 30 June, Conference of the Middle, Rio, Brazil

A time of informals and other special activities (e.g. major groups led ones) between the third prepcomm and the UN CSD in Rio. This 'conference of the middle' will probably exert significant influence into the Rio+20 agenda.

20 – 22 June, Rio+20, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Session 20 – Rio+20.

Follow the UN CSD Rio+20 official calendar and keep up to date with the changes.

Other important events are:

    3 – 5 September 64th UN DPI Conference, Bonn, Germany on the Rio plus 20 process and voluntarism. The UN Department of Public Information (UN DPI) will organise in Bonn, Germany, in September, a civil society conference that will be a massive manifestation for this sector. UN DPI expects around 1500 NGOs to participate in this meeting, and the themes will focus on the Rio plus 20 agenda.

    21 – 23 September 7th "Environment for Europe" Ministerial Conference, Astana, Kazakhstan. The meeting in Kazakhstan organised under the mantle of Environment for Europe has as one of its key agenda points consumption and production and green economy. Besides global participation, the meeting will provide opportunities for stakeholders in that part of the world to participate, and work towards making the outcome from this conference relevant to the Zero Draft of the document.

    November - 2nd Committee of the UN General Assembly, New York. The 2nd committee of the UN General Assembly will discuss the Rio process, focus on structure of the document and process.

    28 November – 9 December, COP 17, Durban, South Africa. COP 17 in Durban South Africa will be the last organised climate meeting under the auspices of UNFCCC before the timeline set up by the Kyoto protocol is up.

    20 – 22 February 2012, UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF), Nairobi, Kenya. This meeting will undoubtedly be devoted to the upcoming Rio+20 meeting. The place for this conference is not yet decided, three governments have expressed an interest in hosting the meeting.

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