The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is the lead organizer of a “side event” that takes place during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week.
Also known as Rio+20, UNCSD is being held from June 20-22 to mark the 20th anniversary after the 1992 Earth Summit last held in Rio de Janeiro.
The 1992 conference placed sustainable development as a priority on the agenda of the U.N. and the international community.
Rio +20 will focus on how to use sustainable development to create a long-term structure for systemic changes in “economic development, social development and environmental protection.”
The BWA – along with co-sponsors that include the World Methodist Council, the World Council of Churches, Church World Service and the Global Fund for Education Development – will host meetings that examine the roles of religious and educational institutions in addressing issues of sustainability, the impact of religious and educational institutions on the global agenda for sustainability, and the resources that religious and educational practices offer to an understanding of a “green society.”
BWA Director of Freedom and Justice Raimundo Barreto and Mark Greenwood of BMS World Mission, the Baptist mission agency, who is currently stationed in Brazil, will address the side event.
“By discussing how religion and educational groups promote ethical values and contribute to environmental action and sustainable practices, this event will shed light on a key strategic issue for Rio+20 U.N. Conference,” the sponsors state.
The faith-based and educational sponsors see the side event as necessary because “discussions on sustainability are shifting from political, economic and scientific discourses to social, cultural and spiritual considerations.”
This shift, the organizers claimed, is “due to fundamental ethical questions that emerged at the intersection between religion and education,” but which are “often disregarded in global discussions.”
The BWA, which is also co-sponsoring an event that examines the roles of U.N. conferences in the democratization of international relations, has been preparing for Rio+20 since March 2011.
The BWA participated in discussions with other nongovernmental organizations that helped to generate Zero Draft, a document with the objective of providing guidance to U.N. member states that will draft the final document coming out of Rio+20.
Rio+20 has three broad objectives: securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges.
Themes to be examined are a green economy within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as well as an institutional framework for sustainable development.