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Roads from Rio+20

Roads from Rio+20

Pathways to achieve global sustainability goals by 2050

In 1992, in the Rio declaration, the world agreed to strive for sustainable development, including the ambition to eradicate poverty and to protect the world’s ecosystems. The principles of the conference were translated into several documents, including the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 and Conventions on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification.These documents have been accepted by nearly all countries, worldwide.

Progress has been made in some areas, but overall realisation of goals and targets is lagging behind, as is evident from persistent poverty and continued environmental degradation. In some areas related to poverty, progress has been made. For key areas related to hunger, biodiversity, climate, access to modern energy, and air pollution, policies have not led to a reversal of historical, unsustainable trends.

Theoretically, it is possible to design pathways along which development and environmental objectives can be achieved. In the report Roads to Rio and in this app, we show the necessary level of effort and possible pathways along which the goals may be achieved, as well as the synergies and trade-offs for two clusters: 1) food, land and biodiversity, and 2) energy, air pollution and climate change. Furthermore, directions for policy-making are presented.

Above all, it is important that a consistent vision is developed for achieving long-term goals and short-term targets that integrate different sustainable development themes. The analysis here is intended to contribute to that thinking process.

Main findings

Without new policies, goals will not be achieved

Although the 1992 Rio Conference resulted in many activities aimed at sustainable development, trends have not been reversed in key areas and will probably continue without additional action.

Potential exists to achieve objectives

There are alternative pathways along which the sustainable development goals could be achieved, but all require transformative changes.

Transformative change is needed

For both land, food and biodiversity and energy, climate and air pollution, marginal improvements will not suffice; large, transformative changes are needed to meet sustainable development goals.

Challenges for food and biodiversity

Eradicating hunger and maintaining a stable and sufficient food supply while conserving biodiversity requires policy action on agricultural intensification, creation of a robust food system, mainstreaming biodiversity in land-use planning and initiating changes in consumption patterns

Challenges for energy and climate

Ensuring access to modern energy sources for all, while limiting global climate change and air pollution requires targeted policy action on the poorest households, peaking global greenhouse gas emissions around 2020, introducing appropriate pricing instruments, ensuring sufficient financing and reform of international climate policy.