Exploring the Role of Cities and Buildings in the Green Economy

In June 2012, Rio de Janeiro will host the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), an event widely known as “Rio +20” as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. For citizens, businesses, and governments around the world, the Rio +20 Conference represents an opportunity to assess 20 years of progress on the environment and to generate renewed will for, and concrete actions towards, a sustainable future.

One of the central themes of the conference is the “Green Economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development”— how will we spur global economic activity and reduce poverty while using energy, water, and other natural resources sustainably?

The Rio+20 conference is an opportunity to highlight the central role that buildings and cities play in a green economy. Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, making these areas key centers of production and consumption that have a profound impact on the environment, economy, and quality of life of the people who inhabit them. Buildings are responsible for 40% of global energy use and over one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. And as the rate of urbanization increases around the world, green building practices, energy efficiency strategies, and sustainably built communities will be essential components of a global green economy.

The Road to Rio +20 is a series of events happening around North America and in other locations around the world that will bring together business leaders, local governments, and other stakeholders to examine innovation in the built environment and urban sector, highlight regional examples of excellence and explore sectoral challenges and solutions. The events will also provide an opportunity to discuss potential outcomes at the Rio+20 conference in these sectors.

The Road to Rio +20 is a collaborative initiative between the U.S. Green Building Council as a member of the GLOBE Alliance and the World Green Building Council, the U.N. Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

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