Discuss the big issues for the Earth Summit 2012
How do we plan a future that nurtures a healthy world alongside the needs of a growing population?
Have your say in the run up to the Earth Summit 2012 by getting involved in the Earth Debates and help shape the future of our planet.
In June 2012, experts will meet to set the agenda for a sustainable future at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2012). The summit is also known as Rio+20 because it is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years on from the first momentous Earth Summit which also took place there.
What are the Earth Debates about?
At 4 themed debates, a panel of leading experts chaired by Richard Black, the BBC's environment correspondent, tackled key issues at the heart of the Earth Summit's green economy agenda.
Your questions and comments formed an important part of these discussions, which were webcast live from the Natural History Museum in spring 2012. To find out about the 4 debate themes click here.
(Earth Debates: Ecosystem economics-can we put a price on nature?) (Promotional Video)
Earth Debates 2: Beyond GDP
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a universal but crude measure of a country’s economic activity and output. But it takes no account of the appreciation or deprecation of a country’s building infrastructure, or of the condition of its natural capital (land, soils, the diversity of plants, animals and life) and the ecosystem services provided by the environment (such as crop pollination).
Furthermore, GDP is no measure of the health, wealth, or wellbeing of a country’s population, or how these are distributed across society.
While GDP remains the most important measure for international financing, alternative measures are needed for sustainable development. What alternatives account for the wellbeing of the environment and local people, providing indicators for investing in a green economy?
Earth Debates 3: Green cities in a green economy- how to pioneer a sustainable transition?
Cities will play an increasing role in the welfare of both people and the environment in the future. How can we make them greener? For the first time in history half of the world’s population is located in urban spaces rather than rural areas. By 2030, nearly 60% are expected to be urban dwellers.
Cities will be the powerhouse for future development and growth, and planning their future will make or break a green economy. Green cities will have to effectively and efficiently manage energy, recycle resources and make use of waste.
How can the historic human infrastructure of cities be transformed from grey to green by learning from the lessons of nature? How will they provide for the health and wellbeing of people, as well as the environment?
Earth Debates 4: Food Security
While the actual growth figures are subject to debate, there is little dispute that the projected increase in human population size, combined with the uneven distribution of resources, will put unprecedented pressure on sustainable development.
The risks of applying grand ‘conventional’ thinking to the problem are also emerging, such as the loss of essential natural services when large areas of land are farmed for single crops.
What are the options for finding a balance between the demands of a growing population and maintaining an environment that can provide the essential services, food, water and raw materials for a sustainable future?