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International Society of Ethnobiology Supports Biological and Cultural Diversity at Rio+20 and Beyond

  The International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) made news at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development this summer. Introduced to almost 700 governments, businesses, civil society groups, and universities was the “Montpellier Statement,” delivered by Helene Mandrous, the Mayor of Montpellier, France. The statement was developed at ISE’s 13th Biannual Congress held earlier this…

10 Green Ways to Improve Our Cities

We’ve been writing a lot recently about how cities can transform themselves by going greener, from rooftop gardens, to buildings made of shipping containers, or even making entire floating cities. (Learn more at our new innovation hub.) At the recent Aspen Environment Forum, Rohit Aggarwala said most major world cities have plans to address climate change…

U.S. Makes Strides on Climate Change

As Grist puts it, contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is making progress on climate change. Overall, the country’s carbon emissions fell 1.7 percent last year—in part because of the explosive growth of natural gas and the Great Recession. Looking at energy-related carbon emissions in the last five years, the U.S. has experienced a roughly…

Green Thought Leaders Share Words of Wisdom From Aspen

We reported on the Aspen Environment Forum last month, which brought together leaders in the environment, science, policy, and business communities to discuss “the new normal” on the scenic Colorado campus of the Aspen Institute. (National Geographic co-sponsored the event.) Now, genConnect has released brief video interviews with some of the presenters. Browse the videos…

Driving True Economic Growth: Report From Aspen

  “Our fuel bill was $20 billion last year,” Sharon Burke, assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, told a big crowd at the Aspen Environment Forum in late June. Burke explained that the U.S. Department of Defense also spends about $4 billion a year in electricity costs for its 300,000+ buildings…

Ocean Leaders “Shake Up” How We View the Seas

  “Industrial fishing has never been sustainable, it’s always been using the capital, not the interest,” Daniel Pauly, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre, told a rapt audience at the Aspen Environment Forum 2012 in late June. Pauly explained that since the advent of modern industrial fishing, spurred by such inventions…

Rio+20 Brought a “Spiritual Lift” Despite Disappointments

“I’ve been to a lot of international conferences, in Nagoya, Durban, and so on, but Rio [Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development] was bigger than any I’ve ever seen,” Matthew Shirts, the editor of the Brazilian edition of National Geographic, told a large audience at the Aspen Environment Forum this past weekend in…

Sustainable Cities “Can Improve Lives and Build a Healthier Planet”

It may seem counterintuitive in a world where giant urban concentrations of billions of people are snagged in traffic congestion and endless sprawl, but cities may well be the smartest way to both make our use of the planet sustainable and raise prosperity.

What’s Going on in the Amazon?

An interactive map, launched at Rio+20, seeks to help people keep up-to-date on the state of the Amazon basin.

UN Foundation Head Tim Wirth on Sustainable Energy For All

  As the president of the UN Foundation, former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth’s job is to connect people, ideas, and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. Two kinds of power, electricity and empowerment, were on Senator Wirth’s mind when he sat down to discuss Rio+20, the UN’s largest sustainable development conference happening…

Disaster Risk Reduction and Rio+20

  By Antony Spalton and Lisa Guppy Over the last twenty years, disasters have affected up to 4.4 billion people and have cost around $US 2 trillion. Women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men during a disaster, and typically the poorest and most vulnerable children suffer the highest disaster risk and…

Rio+20 Pushes on with Weak Text, Mixed Predictions

Delegates from around the world are meeting in Rio de Janeiro to discuss how to make the planet more sustainable, despite a rapidly growing population. The reprise of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit dubbed “Rio+20” has so far drawn mixed reactions: some call it an “opportunity”; others say it is another step on a long, complicated road to realizing a…

NG Radio Interview: Rio+20 Shows Cooperation and Roadblocks

  Rio+20 continues in the gorgeous city of Rio de Janeiro, as a steady stream of world leaders take the podium and wax poetic on sustainable development. Yesterday, I called in to Carmen Russell-Sluchansky’s show on Voice of Russia to give my impressions of how the conference is going. Listen to the brief interview here.

Calling for Environmental Health Solutions in Cities

  By Kerry Constabile Half of the world’s children and adolescents live in urban areas. As the world urbanizes, people and particularly children are faced with increasingly unhealthy communities. Environmental health hazards – ranging from air pollution, garbage and inadequate sanitation – are problematic for the poorest city dwellers who persist under the radar, neglected by…

Tour of Rio’s Favelas Shows Hope and Ingenuity

Some of the paths through Vila Canoas are so narrow that only one person can pass at a time. When our tour group ran into a resident of the favela coming the opposite direction, we leaned into a corner, letting them pass with a smile and a bom dia (good morning). Brick and concrete blockhouses…