New Article: ‘Welcome to the Anthropocene: Rio+20 and the Meaning of Sustainable Development’

Abstract: From June 20 to 22, 2012, 45,000 participants from governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and major groups met in Rio De Janeiro for the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The outcome document titled “The Future We Want” alludes to a grand vision for addressing global challenges in the framework of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. But the 53-page long document only reiterates promises made elsewhere. It fails to lay out a coherent roadmap forward, much less to define binding targets with specific deadlines. The declaration, however, does reflect a changing political reality in international negotiations. Developing countries are playing a much more assertive role in pushing poverty eradication as the overarching priority than at any time before. Rio+20 furthermore presents a snapshot of the divers interests and voices that shape the discourse on sustainable development, 20 years after the original 1992 Rio Conference launched the debate.

Full Citation: Clémençon, R. (2012). Welcome to the Anthropocene: Rio+20 and the Meaning of Sustainable Development. Journal of Environment & Development, 21 (3): 311-338 (Available for download with subscription at:

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