Rio+20 Responses

This section features the main results of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 – and some responses to the negotiations and outcomes. The purpose is to provide an analytical space to present and discuss the Rio+20 process, the implementation of the conference outcome, and the implications for the system of global environmental governance. If you would like to suggest an addition to the responses outlined below, please write to with a link to the article and a brief summary.

Outcome Document

The Future We Want” is the outcome document that includes the mandate approved by the Heads of State and Government represented at the Rio+20 Summit. Sections on the political commitment, the Green Economy, the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, the framework for action and follow up and the means for implementation present the main agreements among states. They have generated varying responses at the global, national and local levels. The French and Spanish versions are also available.

Another important result from Rio+20 includes the summary of the voluntary commitments. The Rio+20 Secretariat, together with the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, received over 700 Rio+20 voluntary commitments from governments,  international governmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, representatives from the civil society and other stakeholders to mobilize actions and resources towards sustainable development.

Analytical Responses (featured alphabetically by organization)

Bloomberg: Rio+20: On the Same Planet, But Not the Same Page Author: Murray Griffin presents some of the positions of civil society and IGOs representatives on the summit’s outcome. It comments of the failure to acknowledge planetary boundaries and the connections with the economic and social pillars of sustainable development.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Rio+20 – Epic Failure Author: Brendan Montague. Comparison of the main results of the Rio+20 summit with the context and results of the 1992 Earth Summit, including the perspectives of different actors and how the 2012 meeting fail to fulfill some of the expectations it created.


Center for American Progress: How the Rio+20 Earth Summit Could Have Been Better    Author: Adam JamesAndrew Light, Gwynne Taraska. Final outcome text lacks specific details and goals and with a little more pust the results could have been a little better. The article includes a few excerpts of the June 2nd draft and compares the language to the final draft.

Council on Foreign Relations: Overcoming Rio+20’s ‘Summit Fatigue’ Author: Toni Johnson Interview with Thomas Bollyky, one of CFR’s Senior Fellows for Global Health, Economics, and Development. The results from Rio+20 as a positive outcome would be a perception that does not sap the initiatives that create momentum for the future. However, productive proposals are emerging at other levels that may contribute to this process.

The Guardian: Different articles present analysis to the Rio+20 results. Jonathan Watts’s and Liz Ford’s article Rio+20 Earth Summit: campaigners decry final document offers insights to the reactions from environmentalists and anti-poverty campaigners to the outcome document. George Monbiot blog comment “After Rio, we know. Governments have given up on the planet” analyzes the connection between consumer capitalism and the post-summit results, and the implications for nature and environment.

The Huffington Post: Rio+20: Why it Failed? Author: Sunita Narain It reviews the main results from the Rio+20 Summit and compares them with what was achieved in 1992. It also reflects in the role of global leadership in the process, and the effort to define a global action principle of equity and to achieve different mechanisms for cooperative action.

The International: Rio+20: Talk of commitment Author: Stephanie Pedersen This summary reflects on the main results of the Rio+20 summit considering the legacy of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the process of ‘re-grouping and re-evaluating” in Rio+20 and the future of the Sustainable Development Goals.

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Rio+20 Summary Meeting presents a day to day analysis of the main highlights in the negotiations, topics and results, as well as of the main reactions to the process. The report also includes a detailed account of the main side events and the discussions at the Rio+20 Pavilion. Mark Halle, Director – Trade and Investment, and European Representative to the IISD also presents a complete commentary on the document Life after Rio.

Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) Rio+20 and after? analyzes the political positions of the results from the conference and its connection with the current state of global international cooperation and its limitations. The newsletter offers an summary of the results on the two main topics of the Rio+20 agenda – the Green Economy and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development – and analyzes how they can contribute to the process of international cooperation through two specific instruments: the thematic dialogues and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Click here for a french version of this document.

Interpress: RIO+20: Promised Green Economy Was a Fake, Say Activists  Author: Thalif Deen Rio+20 outcome document does not do enough to set the planet on a sustainable path and the omission of reproductive rights is glaring.


Migratory Wildlife Network: ‘The Future We Want’ delivers little for migratory wildlife presents a swift analysis of ‘The Future We Want’ and what it delivers for the collective work to protect migratory wildlife. While the report acknowledges that the results of the conference indirectly contribute to the survival or wildlife around the world, it also discusses why only 30 of the 283 paragraphs deal with the protection of migratory wildlife and the implications this has for the activities developed by this network.

Project Syndicate: The Road to Rio+20 compiles a series of articles, blog posts and opinions about different positions on the sustainable development agenda, and about the possible reactions of the international community in the context of the global recession. The article “A Rio Report Card”  by Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs presents an interesting profile on the evolution of the 1992 Earth Summit and how its results should be assumed by the Rio+20 conference.

The South Centre:  The Rio+20 Summit and its Follow Up Author: Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre explains how, despite the perceived disappointment from the Rio+20 results, it could still succeed based on the follow-up actions to the mandate it established. According to this analysis, these actions on the high-level forum on sustainable development, the finance strategy and technology facilitating mechanism, and the sustainable development goals, point to an important work at the United Nations in the year ahead that will be determinant to the success of the Rio+20 mandate.

WorldWatchInstitute:  The Future We Need: Reflections on Rio+20           Author: Michael Renner Rio+20 at the government level was disappointing. It is now time to rely more on the coalition of the willing. However, individual action will not be enough to save the planet.