Re-conceptualising Commitments to Sustainable Development in the 21st Century – Nurturing Action and Accountability in the Networked World

  • Brendan Guy Natural Resources Defense Council, New York
Keywords: sustainable development, policy goals


The 2012 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, was the largest UN conference in history. The goal of the conference was to renew the political commitment for sustainable development, and to assess remaining gaps in implementation of the outcomes of major summits on sustainable development. Rio+20 sought to produce a focused political document by which world leaders could drive action on “the future we want,” the tagline of the conference. Unlike the original Rio Earth Summit of 1992, no major legally binding treaties were signed and no significant funding mechanisms were mobilised. In the aftermath of the conference, many observers expressed discontent at the lack of an ambitious globally negotiated agreement to catalyse on-the-ground sustainable development results.