Fact Sheet
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Washington, DC
November 9, 2011


The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, will be a landmark event in international discussions on sustainable development. Rio+20 will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20-22, 2012.

Rio+20 Themes and Objectives: The UN General Assembly identified two principal themes for Rio+20: The Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication; and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development. It also identified three objectives for the Conference: Securing a Renewed Political Commitment for Sustainable Development; Assessing Progress and Remaining Gaps in Implementation of Sustainable Development Efforts; and Addressing New and Emerging Challenges.

Promoting a Sustainable Future

The United States sees Rio+20 as an opportunity to re-energize global efforts and better integrate the three critical pillars of sustainable development: economic, environmental, and social. We will work with the international community to chart economic growth paths, applicable to countries at all stages of development, which help protect the environment and improve social conditions. We have an unparalleled opportunity at Rio to harness new technologies, promote modern and transparent institutions, and integrate stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and academia into the process of advancing sustainable development. Rio+20 is also an opportunity for senior officials from a range of government ministeries, including those focused on social issues, agriculture, finance and the environment, to join together in addressing sustainable development challenges.

The Green Economy: Broad-based economic growth and sustainable development can and should be mutually reinforcing. Promoting a green economy includes advancing resource and production efficiency; maintaining ecosystem services; deploying clean energy technologies; educating and training workers; reducing environmental exposures that threaten health; and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. The private sector and civil society have a critical role to play in the green economy.

The Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development: All levels of society need to be involved in sustainable development. Governance should be transparent and inclusive and lay the foundation for society to make sustainable choices. Governments should strive to create an enabling environment for private sector and civil society innovation, investment, and entrepreneurship in sustainable economic and social systems and technologies. In addition, Rio+20 aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of international organizations and partnerships working toward sustainable development.

An Active U.S. Role

The United States is committed to using the Rio+20 Conference to:

• Promote a green economy and green growth, incorporating environmental and social concerns into economic development planning.

• Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the UN in support of national sustainable development efforts.

• Involve stakeholders at all levels to promote sustainable development.

• Build on our successes of the past twenty years to catalyze future action.

U.S. Actions on Sustainable Development: A wide range of U.S. Government policies support the Rio+20 objectives and themes. The President’s Global Development Policy establishes a model of sustainable development to promote broad-based growth and democratic governance, facilitate the stabilization of countries emerging from crisis or conflict, alleviate poverty, and advance global commitments to improve social conditions. Three current major initiatives that advance U.S. development policy are Feed the Future, the Global Health Initiative and the Global Climate Change Initiative. U.S. programs in areas such as sustainable cities, clean energy, training and education, sustainable agricultural practices, oceans, forests, water, public health, cleaner production and environmental protection promote sustainable development both at home and abroad.

Robust U.S. Engagement: More than fifteen U.S. federal agencies are preparing for Rio+20. The U.S. Government is also reaching out to a broad range of representatives from civil society, the private sector and state and local governments to encourage their participation and secure their commitment to promoting sustainable development. Rio+20 will provide a significant opportunity to engage and empower women and involve young people in sustainable development issues. The United States will work to ensure that Rio+20 focuses on improving the lives of people in a sustainable, transparent and effective manner.

Science, Technology and Innovation: Advances in science, technology and innovation will be fundamental to a sustainable future, with policy decisions guided by science-based, innovative solutions addressing key problems. Rio will present an important venue to demonstrate how mobile and internet connection technologies can broaden public participation and more effectively engage citizens around the world. The United States will support efforts to ensure that Rio+20 is informed by the best available science and to showcase innovative technologies and policies that advance sustainable development.