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UN launches new campaign for Rio+20 to engage people on future communities


09:15, November 23, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations on Tuesday launched a new campaign in run-up to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to engage people in the types of communities they want to live in 20 years from now.

"We need to imagine a different future," UN-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press conference here for the launch. "What would our world look like if everyone had access to the food they need, to an education, and to the energy that is required to develop? What would our communities look like if we created a vibrant, job-rich, green economy? This is the future we want."

The new campaign called "Rio+20: The Future We Want" will work through public involvement to imagine how societies throughout the world can build on a future that promotes prosperity and quality of life without adding more damage to the planet.

The campaign aims to encourage people to envision how societies can build a future that promotes prosperity for everyone without degrading the planet's natural environment, and to contribute their ideas through various mediums -- photos, letters, essays and drawings -- which will be combined to form an exhibit at the conference next year, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Opportunities like Rio+20 do not come along often," Ban said. "The Rio+20 conference offers us a unique chance to discuss the challenges which we face and the solutions we can pursue .... It's a chance to visualize and plan for the future we want."

The conference will take place from June 20-22 with sustainable development and climate change being the top priorities. The conference, which will be attended by world leaders and environmental experts, seeks to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date, and address new emerging challenges.

It encourages people to engage in a global conversation that will be collected into visions which will be shown in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro at the conference, said a press release from the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

"Rio+20 is our best chance to define pathways to a sustainable future," UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang, secretary-general of Rio+20, said. "World leaders, along with thousands of participants from the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet."

Sha also said that focusing on building green economies is especially important now, as the world faces a global economic crisis.

"The green economy can help accelerate progress towards sustainable development and poverty eradication and re-orient public and private decision-making so that it reflects, and respects, natural capital," he said.

"It can be a way to foster economic growth and environmental protection by promoting win-win solutions and it can be a way to include the poor as active participants, and the main beneficiaries," Sha said.

Also at the press conference, Kiyo Akasaksa, UN under-secretary- general for communications and public information, said that " through this conversation, we are looking to engage people everywhere on what this future should look like, and what we need to do to realize this vision."

"We need to do more to take sustainable development out of the realm of the abstract and make it real to people," Akasaksa said. "We need to show, now more than ever, that it is possible to have development that generates prosperity for everyone and an improved quality of life while protecting our natural environment."

As part of the campaign, the United Nations is launching a website that will provide information about several key sustainable development issues, including cities, disaster resilience, energy, food, jobs, oceans and water. The website will also serve as an online platform through which the public can send ideas and comments and discuss issues on sustainable development.

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