Major science conference to provide scientific leadership in the run up to Rio+20 Summit

World Conference of Science Journalists, Doha, Qatar: Save the date for the scientific kick‐off for Rio+20: The Planet Under Pressure Conference in London from 26-29 of March 2012.

The international conference will be the biggest gathering of global environmental change specialists in advance of the United Nations Rio+20 Summit: 2,500 scientists, policymakers, industry and media representatives will meet to hear the latest research findings on the state of the planet and discuss concepts for planetary stewardship and societal and economic transformation towards global sustainability.

This event will be a unique opportunity to meet and interview world-leading scientists as well as high profile decision-makers in policy, industry and civil society. An outstanding suite of parallel sessions and other interactive events will provide much other material for reporting.

Clear messages and solutions

There is clear scientific evidence that humanity has reached a point in history at which the essential basis for development and human well-being – the continued functioning of the Earth system as we know it – is at risk.

However, despite this evidence, the implementation of sustainable development mechanisms has so far largely failed. The Planet Under Pressure conference will focus on further evidence of disruption to the Earth system, but more importantly on solutions to this dilemma, including policy recommendations for a global Earth-system governance and concepts for societal adaptation.

The conference’s Chief Scientific Advisor, US Academic and Nobel-laureate (Economics) Professor Elinor Ostrom says, “Given the mounting evidence of the sheer scale of global changes we are witnessing, the scientific community has a responsibility to urge public officials, citizens and private firms in all countries to focus on the need for major policy changes to avoid major irreparable damage to our planet. I sincerely hope the 2012 conference will make a significant contribution to placing sustainability on everyone’s agenda.”

Conference Co-chair Dr Mark Stafford-Smith, Science Director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship for Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, says, “We want this conference to bring together all sectors of society – policy, industry, media, NGOs and the public – to engage in a collective discussion about what is at stake and what are the options and opportunities.”

“We know enough about planetary boundaries to know that we need to act urgently. But transformation on this scale is unprecedented and carries with it inherent equity issues between the developed and developing nations. Society needs to work these through in north‐south partnerships. But time is running out. If the bath is overflowing, at some point you stop arguing about who switched the taps on, and turn them off,” added Dr Stafford-Smith.

Co-chair Dr Lidia Brito, Head of Science Policy at UNESCO, says, “The science community does not have all the answers. But global‐change scientists are in the crow’s nest. They can see what is up ahead. They are giving us clear and unequivocal warnings that we need to steer away from danger. This is the message the Planet Under Pressure conference has and what the scientists will look for in the Rio+20 outcomes.”

Participation opportunities for journalists

The conference aims to attract 40 percent of delegates from developing countries. The World Conference for Science Journalists has teamed up with the International Council for Science to offer three free trips to the conference for journalists with an environmental focus from developing countries. Other subsidised offers may be available shortly.

With daily press conferences, the conference will provide world-class media facilities including live web streaming and an on‐site media hub and broadcasting studio.

Follow news on the conference:

Mailing list:

Other voices

Bo Kjellen, Chair of the 1992 Earth Summit Preparatory Committee (Working Group One): “This conference will be of great importance not only for Rio+20, but for the whole sequence of international cooperation that will be necessary to turn world affairs in a sustainable direction — with the next ten years a most crucial period.”

Dr Priya Shyamsundar, Program Director of the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, says, “We are truly fortunate to be guardians of this planet and each of us has a responsibility to address the global challenges it faces. We also have a responsibility to reduce the burden faced by the millions of people living under poverty. My hope is that Planet Under Pressure will bring practitioners and scientists together and empower them with the knowledge and networks necessary for the sustainable solutions that we simply have to find.”

Dr Shyamsundar is on the conference scientific organizing committee.

Press contact

Owen Gaffney
Director of communications
International Geosphere‐Biosphere Programme (IGBP)
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Tel: +46 86739556
Mob: +46 730208418
Skype: owengaffneyigbp

Anne Kathrin Raab
Communications Associate
Secretariat of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global
Environmental Change (UNU‐IHDP)
UN Campus in Bonn, Germany
Tel.: +49 2288150616

Planet Under Pressure Conference Organizers

International Geosphere‐Biosphere Programme
IGBP provides essential international scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global change.

By linking biology, ecology and social sciences, DIVERSITAS produces socially relevant new knowledge to support sustainable use of biodiversity.

World Climate Research Programme
WCRP improves climate predictions and our understanding of human influence on climate through observations and modelling of the Earth system and the policyrelevant assessment of climate conditions.

International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change IHDP provides international leadership in framing, developing and integrating social science research on global environmental change, and promotes key findings of this research to help address these challenges.

Earth System Science Partnership
ESSP is a partnership of the four international global‐change programmes. It is an integrated study of the Earth System, the ways that it is changing, and the implications for global and regional sustainability.

The conference is sponsored by the International Council for Science.

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