RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The countdown to Rio+20 is in full effect, although it is hard to say when it actually starts. The cluster-bomb of meetings start as early as June 13th according to the Rio government’s handy new web site (provided in English as well). The official UN site has the countdown at fourteen days until June 20th, but also lists the “Sustainable Development Dialogues” on June 16th to the 19th.
It is understandable that such a large scale conference is a bit convoluted, there is the overarching message, but the next level down is a little harder to define, and then at its ground floor, well it’s easy to feel lost in the rough.
The official UN site says “More than 500 on-site side events organized by Governments, Major Groups, Organizations from the UN system and other International Organizations will take place in RioCentro during Prepcom III (13-15 June), the Sustainable Development Dialogue Days (16-19 June) and the Summit (20-22 June). Please see below the preliminary programme of on-site side events in RioCentro.”
I’m wondering if anyone actually knows how many meetings will be happening. Probably not. Even if someone wanted – perhaps (by design) there will be so many impromptu get-togethers and elevator pitches happening that it will be impossible to track it all.
As we wrote in an earlier article about key meetings for Brazilian politicians, the goal is that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Still, I am very curious how we (humanity) will make sense of the event during and after.
For our (The Rio Times) part we’ll focus on the impact on the foreign community in Rio, and are watching how the city handles security and transportation. Many of the locals here are treating it something like Carnival – meaning ‘getting out of dodge’ for the duration.
The folks that live in Barra will be most put out of course, and I’m sure there will be a lot of doctor notes and vacation days logged. But as Rio’s Mayor Eduard Paes says: “It is an honor for the city to receive an event like this. What we are asking for is the understanding of the population for these days.”
And it is an honor, and is it is exciting, and just fourteen more days, or ten, or maybe it’s here already – depending on what countdown you use. Conference Secretary-General, Sha Zukang is probably counting down the days until it’s over, June 22nd (sixteen days away).