This isn’t your grandpa’s Bing Crosby-Bob Hope “road” movie. The language on this 2012 Road to Rio is sustainability and there is much to learn.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, takes place June 20-22nd in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where world leaders will congregate for a landmark event to talk about sustainability issues. Also referred to as the Earth Summit, the stated objectives are to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development, to assess progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development and to address new and emerging challenges. Two specific areas of focus are green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development. The full text of Resolution A/RES/64/236 – the Earth Summit endorsement – is available here.

Leading up to Earth Summit, we wrote about the United Nations World Environment Day held on June 5th. In Rio Centro, this year’s theme, Green Economy: Does it include you? is addressed in over 500 on-site side events organized by governments, major groups, organizations from the UN system and other International Organizations leading up to the Summit.

Many organizations are lobbying to pressure world leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies. In 2009, the G20 (an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union (EU) with representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank) promised that fossil fuel subsidies would be phased out in the “medium term.” But corporate clout of the fossil fuel industry has stymied these bigwigs’ good intentions. We believe the billions in fossil fuel subsidies could be better spent investing in renewable energy, in efficiency, in public health and education and research for a start.

The UN has announced that 130 heads of state have committed to attend Rio+20. As this infographic on YouTube shows, it is still unclear whether President Obama plans to attend. And, it appears the old guard “greens” of the baby boomer generation aren’t showing much interest either. Conversely, activists in the younger generation are more than interested. For them, being green means living environmental lives. Their new kind of environmentalism believes in grassroots people-centered solutions to environmental problems, like growing more green jobs. They focus on an equitable economic system of inclusion. At the forefront of this new activism are organizations like the Energy Action Coalition dedicated to clean energy and climate solutions.

As this thoughtfully articulated article states, the old school greens forgot about the human element in the equation. These children of environmentalists are liberal idealists who are taking their version of environmentalism onto a new high road to get there – to the streets.

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