Moving beyond the tool: ICTs in the sustainable development discussion at Rio+20

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By Shawna Finnegan and Lisa Cyr (International Institute for Sustainable Development)
, August 2012

Rio has a long history with information and communication technology—the Earth Summit in 1992 was one of the first United Nations conferences to be set up with ‘communications centres’, which facilitated online discussion and kept civil society around the world informed about the UN talks. Twenty years later, information and communication technology (ICT) featured prominently in the day-to-day activities of the Rio+20 conference.

Ironically, despite the dependence on and ubiquity of technology at the Rio+20 conference, there was very little reflection on the way in which technology has shaped economic, social and political structures in the 20 years since the first Earth Summit, or the challenges to sustainable development that ICTs present. Such were the observations of Lisa Cyr and Shawna Finnegan of the APC, who attended the conference in person from July 16 to 22 2012.

This report was commissioned by the International Institute for Sustainable Development as part its work with the APC in an ongoing partnership on ICTs and environmental sustainability. IT examines the ways in which ICTs were addressed in the formal and informal summits, noting critical discussion points as well as highlighting gaps and missed opportunities.

Photo by Bigstock .

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