Sustainable Development

At Rio+20, Baha'is bring high energy to discussions on sustainable development

RIO DE JANERIO — Delegates of the Bahá’í International Community, along with representatives of the Brazilian Bahá’í community and Bahá’ís from other non-governmental organizations, participated in a wide range of activities and events at the Rio+20 Conference, reflecting a deep history of involvement in the sustainable development discussion since before the 1992 Earth Summit.

Altogether, more than 30 Bahá’ís attended Rio+20 and its parallel events. In addition to issuing a statement to the conference (see page 2), such activities undertaken by Bahá’ís at Rio included:

  • The sponsorship of a 90-minute side event at the main Rio Centro conference site on 13 June on the “Elimination of the Extremes of Wealth and Poverty in a Green Economy Context.” The event featured a panel discussion by Steven Stone of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Michael Dorsey of Dartmouth College, and Farooq Ullah of Stakeholder Forum. Moderated by Daniella Hiche, a delegate of the Bahá’í International Commuinity from Brazil, the event drew more than 100 people, making it one of the best-attended side events in advance of the 20-22 June high level meeting.

  • The re-dedication of the “Peace Monument,” an hour-glass shaped sculpture built 20 years ago as the Bahá’í International Community’s contribution to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Containing the soil from nearly 150 countries, the monument was recently restored in collaboration with the Office of the Mayor of Rio de Janerio. Present at the re-dedication ceremony on 17 June were Sha Zukang, the UN secretary-general for Rio+20; Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio; Laudemar Aguiar, National Secretary of the Brazilian Organizing Committee for Rio+20, and Siron Franco, the well-known Brazilian artist who created the monument.

  • Participation in the “Youth Blast,” a parallel conference for young people sponsored by the UN that was held 7-12 June 2012. The Bahá’í International Community sponsored an interactive workshop on “trusteeship in the context of sustainable development.”

  • The sponsorship of two side events at the Rio People’s Summit — the parallel civil society conference to Rio+20. They were on “spiritual principles for development” and the “social role of religions.” The events were organized mainly by the Brazilian Bahá’í community, which sent about 20 participants to the Summit.

  • Members of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum also participated in several pre-conference meetings in Rio. These included the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which drew about 80 researchers from around the world to review achievements, identify challenges, and encourage a dialogue on the issue.

  • Indigenous peoples gathered in Rio to hold a parallel conference called the Kari-Oca, as they had done 20 years ago. Ronald Pinto, a member of the Kaingang ethnic group in southern Brazil and a Bahá’í, followed the meeting closely. On 18 June, a delegation of nine Bahá’ís, including May Akale, Mary Aune, and Ms. Hiche from the Bahá’í International Community’s delegation, attended the Kari-Oca for a major ceremony to “reaffirm responsibility to speak for the protection and enhancement of the well-being of Mother Earth, nature and future generations of our Indigenous Peoples and all humanity and life.”