Navigation path

Rio +20
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

The Rio +20 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development provided an opportunity to coherently address the global challenges of sustainable development (social, economic, environment). It gathered a large number of Heads of State and Governments, some 50 000 other government representatives, civil society and private sector participants.

The Conference focused on two interlinked themes:green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradicationand the institutional framework for sustainable development. The Conference also took stock of achievements since the previous UN sustainable development conferences, in particular Rio 1992 and Johannesburg 2002.

In Rio, the European Union played an active and constructive role.  The EU wanted to achieve global action on how to lift people out of poverty and how to use resources better to ensure prosperity also for future generations.

The EU proposed aspirational goals and targets as part of the discussions with its partners around the Rio+20 outcomes. They focus on five areas inter alia which are key for a green economy: water, the oceans, land and ecosystems (including forests), sustainable energy, and resource efficiency including waste.

On behalf of the European Commission, the Directorate-General for Environment lead the negotiations at the RIO +20 Conference. Policy documents and other information can be found on the DG Environment website.

EU actions for Sustainable Development

From policy to action: An outline of EU external aid for Sustainable Development pdf - 3 MB [3 MB]

This brochure illustrates how EU action in key areas has helped move the sustainable development agenda forward. The EU strongly believes that a smart, sustainable and inclusive green economy can generate sustained growth, create decent green jobs and help eradicate poverty. To make that happen, we need to invest in and protect the natural capital upon which the long-term survival of our planet depends.

EuropeAid side events at Rio + 20 Conference

The European Commission organised side events at the Rio +20 Conference.


Tuesday 19 June 2012

Sustainable Development Goals from "Silo Thinking" towards an integrated approach pdf - 2 MB [2 MB]

Insights from the European Report on Development. The discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals provided the opportunity to not only look at each resource individually, but also take account of the extensive linkages between resources such as water, energy and land.


Wednesday 20 June 2012

Sustainable Energy – How can innovative financing contribute? pdf - 475 KB [475 KB]

The event showed the EU's past achievements in poverty eradication in the energy sector. Beyond that, it highlighted the innovative financial instruments being used by the EU to unlock substantial financing for sustainable development and to make an effective and timely contribution to the Sustainable Energy For All initiative (SE4ALL).


Thursday 21 June 2012

Agriculture – The way towards sustainability and inclusiveness pdf - 351 KB [351 KB]

This side event outlined the important role that sustainable agriculture practices and supporting policies can play in reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, advancing social equity and ensuring environmental protection, and thereby contributing to sustainable development and growth.


Examples of the EU's contribution to Sustainable Development

Fighting against deforestation in Ghana - FLEGT

FLEGT stands for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. The European Commission is actively working with developing countries that produce timber for the EU market to ensure that they have the system and capacity in place to tackle illegal logging


Mango! The fruits of a sustainable agriculture

PIP is a European cooperation programme that stands for a sustainable development of the african-caribbean-pacific horticultural industry. The horticultural trade is an important driver for economic growth and PIP helps ACP exports reach their full potential by enabling producers and exporters to meet the demands of the EU market.



Two decades after the first 'Earth Summit' in 1992, although good progress has been made as regards poverty eradication and environmental degradation, considerable global challenges remain. Several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are severely off-track. Roughly 1.4 billion people still live in extreme poverty and one sixth of the world’s population is undernourished. Natural resources are depleting while global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Against that backdrop world leaders met in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 for the fourth Earth Summit of this kind, to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Rio UN Conference on Environment and Development and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Last update: 24/08/2012 | Top