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Category archives for Rio+20

Icelandic cod: carrying the torch for sustainable seafood at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

The Olympic and Paralympic Games present a great opportunity to forge positive links between sport and the environment. This year, as part of a commitment to sustainability, 100% of the cod served to athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Village comes from Visir, a family-run fishing business in Grindavik, south west Iceland.

World Food Day: A Time to Embrace the Farming We Want

With the support of policy makers, opinion leaders, scientists, business leaders and the public, we can make “the farming we want” a reality in order to grow sufficient, nutritious food for future generations, to bring new prosperity to the countryside, and to make this planet a more diverse – and safer – home for all the species that dwell here.

Celebrating the Ingenious Skills of Tribes

From the hunting peoples of Canada to the hunter-gatherers of Africa, tribal peoples have found ingenious ways of surviving over thousands of years. For many tribal peoples, continuous immersion in nature over thousands of years has resulted in a profound attunement to the subtle cues of the natural world. Acute observations have taught tribes how…

Water Innovation Starts with the Farmer: Stockholm World Water Week

At the forefront of an important agricultural revolution in the developing world is not a leading scientist or a tireless advocate. Instead, the leader is a farmer.

His name is Purushottambhai Patel, from the state of Gujarat in Western India. He is a smallholder farmer with eight cows, three hectares of tobacco, rice, potatoes and sapota, and limited access to water.

Rather than tapping a large-scale water project for his farm, Patel uses the dung from his cows to generate biogas, which is then fed to a pump that runs partly on diesel. This novel arrangement saves him $400 a year in fuel costs, and the improved water supply enabled him to double his crop production. He also sells water to adjacent farms, further boosting local food production.

The pace of innovation in water management on small farms across Africa and Asia is remarkable. Using water more effectively, together with improved market access, can transform marginal subsistence agriculture into a thriving business opportunity. At the same time it can have a major impact on local food security and contribute to lasting poverty alleviation.

International Society of Ethnobiology Supports Biological and Cultural Diversity at Rio+20 and Beyond

  The International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) made news at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development this summer. Introduced to almost 700 governments, businesses, civil society groups, and universities was the “Montpellier Statement,” delivered by Helene Mandrous, the Mayor of Montpellier, France. The statement was developed at ISE’s 13th Biannual Congress held earlier this…

Giant Amazon Dam Stalled Again – Indigenous Voices to be Heard?

If built, the Belo Monte dam in northern Brazil will be the third largest in the world.

But that is a big “if.” The Brazilian courts have suspended the $17-billion project once again, saying indigenous people whose lives would be affected by the enormous hydroelectric operation were not properly consulted.

Rio+20 Aimed for “Sustainable Energy for All”

  The UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative aims to drive economic development, improve living conditions, and protect the planet by meeting growing energy demands with renewable, environmentally responsible sources. Will Rio+20 be someday seen as the launchpad for these accomplishments or simply another missed opportunity? UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon touted the new program at…

10 Green Ways to Improve Our Cities

We’ve been writing a lot recently about how cities can transform themselves by going greener, from rooftop gardens, to buildings made of shipping containers, or even making entire floating cities. (Learn more at our new innovation hub.) At the recent Aspen Environment Forum, Rohit Aggarwala said most major world cities have plans to address climate change…

Do REDD Trees Make Forest Green?

Deforestation, especially of tropical forests, makes up 18 percent of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — more emissions than the entire global transportation sector. The 2007 Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized that reducing deforestation would be the most significant and immediate way to begin reducing global levels of…

Nepal’s Mountain Villages Tap the Power of “Eternal Snows” With Micro-hydro

  Nepal’s soaring, snowy mountain peaks are a source of awe. They’re also a source of clean, life-altering power to the people who live in their shadows. The small Himalayan nation is promoting micro-hydro plants at the village level to produce renewable electricity, and green jobs, for citizens living far off the country’s limited power…

U.S. Makes Strides on Climate Change

As Grist puts it, contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is making progress on climate change. Overall, the country’s carbon emissions fell 1.7 percent last year—in part because of the explosive growth of natural gas and the Great Recession. Looking at energy-related carbon emissions in the last five years, the U.S. has experienced a roughly…

At Rio+20 cities showed leadership “by doing,” says World Bank expert

“Was the Rio journey worth it?” asked World Bank expert Dan Hoornweg in a recent post on the Sustainable Cities blog for urban development professionals. Reflecting on his experience at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, Hoornweg noted that the normally “grey” issue of sustainable development seemed to be a lot more black and white: the actions…

Green Thought Leaders Share Words of Wisdom From Aspen

We reported on the Aspen Environment Forum last month, which brought together leaders in the environment, science, policy, and business communities to discuss “the new normal” on the scenic Colorado campus of the Aspen Institute. (National Geographic co-sponsored the event.) Now, genConnect has released brief video interviews with some of the presenters. Browse the videos…

Driving True Economic Growth: Report From Aspen

  “Our fuel bill was $20 billion last year,” Sharon Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, told a big crowd at the Aspen Environment Forum in late June. Burke explained that the U.S. Department of Defense also spends about $4 billion a year in electricity costs for its 300,000+ buildings…

Ocean Leaders “Shake Up” How We View the Seas

  “Industrial fishing has never been sustainable, it’s always been using the capital, not the interest,” Daniel Pauly, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre, told a rapt audience at the Aspen Environment Forum 2012 in late June. Pauly explained that since the advent of modern industrial fishing, spurred by such inventions…