The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, a.k.a. Rio +20 Summit, kicks off this week and, along with population growth, urbanism is expected to be a main topic of study and conversation.
The event is massive and complex. Aside from the main event -- a meeting of heads of state that will span June 20 to 22 and likely include marathon talks in an effort to scratch out actionable international agreements -- there are more than 500 side events taking place in Rio.
In his Monday morning email to readers, GreenBiz.com executive editor Joel Makower wrote:
Jay Carson, executive director of C40, the sustainable cities initiative started by Michael Bloomberg and Bill Clinton, told me by phone from Rio over the weekend: "The vast majority of the conversation here is around cities" -- a big change from two years ago in Copenhagen, when cities were barely on the agenda.
Building better cities, in fact, is the topic of a presentation Makower will give during the World Green Summit, an event sponsored by Phillips and a number of other blue chip firms.
Since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, urban populations have increased by more than 1 billion and cities are now home to half the world's population. By 2050 they are likely to house 70 percent of us, so they're vitally important to the long-term health of the planet. Here at Smart Planet, we're more than a little interested in the ways that cities are becoming smarter, more innovative, and better at accommodating the needs of our growing population.
Some of the specific topics regarding cities to be addressed during the summit include:
It will be interesting to watch how the Rio +20 plays out. Though the general mood is, overall, pessimistic over whether any important agreements will be hashed out, there's always hope.
Images: (Top) Attendees of a pre-event for Rio +20, Flickr/Fora do Eixo; Rio, Flickr/seier+seier
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com