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Blog, Opinion Piece, Press Release Address Health Aspects Of Rio+20

More than 100 world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week for Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, to address ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The following blog post, opinion piece, and press release address health aspects of the conference.

  • Vicky Markham, RH Reality Check: Markham, from the Center for Environment and Population, describes a side-event at the conference, titled “Sustainability Revisited: Population, Reproductive Health (RH), and the Planet,” which took place on Monday and was “co-organized by the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the U.N. Foundation (UNF).” She outlines several points that the panel speakers agreed upon, including the empowerment of women and family planning, and says they also “reported on the status of the official U.N. Rio+20 deliberations” surrounding the conference outcome document. Markham writes, “The feeling was mixed, that reference to women and RH is now in the negotiated text (it wasn’t in the original draft), but there’s a big risk of it being put on the back-burner, with feeble mention and no commitments” (6/18).
  • Nalini Saligram and Felicia Knaul, Huffington Post’s “Impact Blog”: “[I]f the aim of Rio+20 is to create a better future, we’re missing an enormous opportunity to address one of the biggest challenges we’re facing today,” Saligram, CEO and founder of Aroyga World, and Knaul, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, write, adding, “Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the world, 80 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, and the incidence of NCDs, especially among the poor, is growing at a rapid rate.” They say “[s]mart solutions to the growing NCD crisis must include a focus on women” and conclude, “Concerned about the enormity of the problem, we ask governments, industry, and civil society to work together, in a whole-of society approach, making innovative use of existing resources and technologies, strengthening health systems, reducing inequities in treatment and care, and leveraging the power of prevention” (6/18).
  • WHO statement: In a statement for the conference, the WHO says that health “contributes to the achievement of sustainability goals,” “is a beneficiary of sustainable development,” and “is a way of measuring the impact of sustainable development policies.” The statement concludes, “The original Rio Declaration of 1992 described ‘human beings as the central concern of sustainable development … living a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.’ It is vital that those attending Rio+20 reaffirm this fact, and take concrete action to optimize the interactions between human health and sustainable development” (6/19).