To mark International Mother Earth Day, the UN General Assembly held an interactive dialogue on harmony with nature on 18 April at UN Headquarters to examine how human activity has affected the regenerative capacity of the planet. ?As we get closer to Rio+20, we must keep the Earth in full view when making decisions and taking actions shifting from a self-centered to an Earth-centered approach,? Mr. Sha told participants. ?Our success and wealth must be measured by the balance we create between ourselves and the world around us; that is, by our ability to live in harmony with nature.?
The dialogue was intended to promote an exchange of ideas and experiences from multiple perspectives, with particular attention to the contribution of science and economics. The dialogue yielded a diagnosis of the negative impacts of human activity on the Earth System, in particular its regenerative capacity and explored institutional responses to catalyze science for sustainable development. The dialogue consisted of one moderated panel discussion with experts in science and economics.
The world that we live in today is far different from the world of the 1992 when the original Earth Summit convened in Rio. From invention of the personal computer and the internet to the development of nano-technology and smart-phones, advances in technology have undoubtedly improved our lives for the better over the past two decades. This boom in technological innovation has led to a world that is more connected than ever before. Yet, despite this, some of the same issues and challenges of sustainable development still remain from the original Earth Summit, making Rio+20 as important and timely as ever.
Huge advances in the information technology industry have been particularly telling. These innovations have spurred double-digit growth in global GDP, faster than any other industry in the world during the same time period. In particular, emerging economies have become leaders not just in the manufacturing and development of new technologies, but also increasingly in research and innovation as well.
While advances in technology have improved the efficiency of numerous human processes and reduced the amount of resources consumed and pollution produced per unit of output over the long run, overall consumption and pollution has continued to increase at unsustainable rates.
The scientific community has also been presented with its own set of challenges in recent years, with significant push-back from special interest groups from all around the world. In addition, investment in science and technology research and development has remained steady in developed countries and has only increased marginally in developing countries in recent years.
However, despite these challenges, science and technology represents yet another cross-cutting issue that will be addressed at Rio+20. In contrast to other issues, science and technology can also be viewed and used as a means of implementation in achieving a successful outcome at Rio+20 and beyond. Simply put, the science and technology can and must serve as a crucial mechanism for change as we chart our course towards ?The Future We Want? at Rio+20.