SGI Activities at Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

June 22, 2012
Soka Gakkai International

From June 20-22, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event marked the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) also held in Rio de Janeiro. The Rio+20 conference focused on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. 

As part of the PrepCom (held from June 13-15) and the Rio+20 conference, various side events were organized at pavilions housing information booths, exhibitions and symposiums on related themes.

The Japan Pavilion showcased green technology and energy-saving innovations, and illustrated Japan's contribution to a disaster-resilient society based on lessons learned from the March 11, 2011, earthquake in Japan.

The joint SGI and Earth Charter International exhibition "Seeds of Hope: Visions of Sustainability, Steps toward Change" was on display at the Pavilion on June 13.

The Seeds of Hope exhibition was also shown at the City Planetarium in Rio de Janeiro from June 16 to July 15. The showing was organized together with the City of Rio de Janeiro and the Earth Charter International, with the support of the State of Rio de Janeiro and SGI. On this occasion several panels highlighting initiatives in Brazil were added to the original version.

At the opening of the exhibition, held on June 15, speakers included SGI Executive Director of Peace Affairs Hirotsugu Terasaki, Earth Charter International Executive Director Mirian Vilela, Rio de Janeiro State Secretary for Environment Carlos Minc and Brazilian member of congress Jorge Bittar on behalf of Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes.

The recently created SGI video "Nurturing Seeds of Hope in the Amazon" that stresses the importance of environmental education and introduces the work of the SGI-Brazil-affiliated Amazon Ecological Conservation Center was shown at both venues.

On June 13, SGI Peace Affairs Program Coordinator Nobuyuki Asai spoke at a symposium organized by the Earth Charter International titled “Exploring Synergies Between Faith Values and Education for Sustainable Development" that introduced a publication of the same name supported by UNESCO. The publication highlights the contributions of diverse religions and faith traditions to education for sustainable development (ESD).

Mr. Asai outlined SGI’s underlying motivation for engagement in ESD and introduced SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s recent environment proposal, issued on the occasion of Rio+20, in which he stresses the importance of fostering a sense of leadership within individuals in order to create waves of transformation within communities and societies. The proposal, titled "For a Sustainable Global Society: Learning for Empowerment and Leadership" was circulated at the conference.

On June 21, Mayors for Peace organized a life-sized "Bread Tank" (a tank covered with bread to illustrate the need to redirect funding from weapons to food) which was shown in front of the Rio de Janeiro Government Pavilion with an appeal for “Disarmament for Sustainable Development.” Speakers included former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ambassador Sergio Duarte, Akira Kawasaki of the Executive Committee of Peace Boat, and Hiro Sakurai, Director of the SGI UN Liaison Office in New York.

SGI also cohosted an interdisciplinary roundtable on the role of education and learning in promoting sustainable development, held at Riocentro on June 20.

[Adapted from a report from SGI-OPI and articles from the June 17, 18, and 20, 2012, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of SGI-OPI]