Education International
Education International

Earth Summit Rio+20: building a green future together

published 14 June 2012 updated 15 June 2012

The international trade union movement is bringing three key demands to the Rio+20 Summit being held from 20-22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The demands are for investment in Green and Decent Jobs by 2015, the universal implementation of a Social Protection Floor, and the introduction of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development seeks to coordinate international support for building a global green economy focused on social equity and sustainability. Over 50,000 participantsfrom governments, the private sector, trade unions, NGOs and other stakeholders will gather in Rio to debate key issues such as employment, energy and food.

A trade union issue

Trade unions are bringing their voice to this major forum through participation in a series of events ahead of the Summit. For instance, the Trade Union Assembly on Labour and Environment has already brought together over 200 national and international trade union delegations from 11-13 June in Rio.

The Assembly has called on all countries to invest at least two per cent of its Gross Domestic Product annually to put their economies on a green pathway. This will generate new ‘green’ employment contributing to both poverty alleviation and social progress.

In parallel, trade unions are demanding a universal Social Protection Floor: a basic set of social rights for all including basic education, healthcare, child benefits and income support for the working poor.  These should be implemented through national legislation and progressively enhanced according to the economic development of each country.

Trade unions will use the Rio+20 Summit as a global platform to ask, once again, for the implementation of an FTT. This will allow for funding for the fight against climate change, as well as addressing the root causes of the global economic crisis through serious financial sector reform.

Educators lead the way

EI firmly supports the process of working towards a green sustainable economy, as underlined in the EI Resolution: Education Unions Mobilising on Climate Change passed at its 2011 Congress in South Africa.

EI also believes teachers and their unions have a central role in forging sustainable economies and healthy communities and, therefore, education can lead the way towards a new green society.

However, there is still a long way to go. “The biggest challenge of Rio+20 is going from theory to practice, seeking the engagement of World Leaders and persuading them to commit to concrete binding measures,” stated EI vice President, Juçara Dutra Vieira.

She praised teachers’ initiatives towards a new green society, including green curricula and green training programmes, and insisted that public educators are at the vanguard of sustainable development.

Put education at the core

In order to create a direct channel for civil society to participate in the Rio+20 Summit, the Brazilian government, along with UN, has implemented the Sustainable Development Dialogues.

During these Dialogues, held from 16-19 June, experts and stakeholders from civil society will gather to decide which recommendations should be submitted directly to Governments at the High-Level Segment of the Rio+20 Conference.

You can influence decisions on the recommendations submitted. We encourage you to click here now to vote for the following:

  • Education to be at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda of the Summit (under the Unemployment, Decent Work & Migrations section);
  • Improve human capital by promoting access to health, including reproductive health, investment in education and empowerment of women (under the Unemployment, Decent Work & Migrations section);
  • Promote global education to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable development (under the sustainable development for fighting poverty section).