The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 for short) is happening right now in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Next American City will provide daily coverage of the summit by way of dispatches from Editor in Chief Diana Lind and correspondent Greg Scruggs.
The 50,000-odd people who have descended on Rio this week are far more than stuffed suits sitting in air-conditioned conference halls. Plenty of activists are sweating it out in the Rio winter (yes, winter, which is still as hot and humid as a respectable U.S. summer).
Here’s a quick sampling of how to catch Rio+20 over the airwaves, for those tuning in from afar, and on the streets, for those tuning up their two-wheelers.
People’s Summit Radio has been on-again/off-again because of some issues with the telecom licensing agency, but as of press time are broadcasting at 98.7 MHz in the vicinity of the People’s Summit, and of course online — click “play” on the People’s Summit homepage for your dose of environmental justice news and views in various languages.
For the visually inclined, a series of YouTube videos are being posted as People’s Summit TV. There are reports on ongoing protests — like the indigenous occupation of the National Social Development Bank’s gardens — and scenes from the People’s Summit site in Flamengo Park.
Finally, tomorrow evening it’s showtime for bikes. Nuvem Móvel, a crowdfunded initiative to create a mobile sound system mounted on bikes, will be blasting its movable beats on its way to take over the Digital Culture Festival. Specifically apolitical, they are affirming: “If Rio is +20, then Nuvem is +1,000!”
They might just cross paths with the National Critical Mass leaving from Praça Cinelândia downtown at 8 pm. Cyclists have converged from all over Brazil, riding in from as far as Curitiba, Brasília and São Paulo. Urban biking in Brazil is serious business, as evidenced by the five cyclists killed in one day in March, and last year’s bloody ending to a Critical Mass ride in Porto Alegre.
Bring a helmet and your voice. You’ll need them both tomorrow night.
Gregory Scruggs is a Seattle-based independent journalist who writes about solutions for cities. He has covered major international forums on urbanization, climate change, and sustainable development where he has interviewed dozens of mayors and high-ranking officials in order to tell powerful stories about humanity’s urban future. He has reported at street level from more than two dozen countries on solutions to hot-button issues facing cities, from housing to transportation to civic engagement to social equity. In 2017, he won a United Nations Correspondents Association award for his coverage of global urbanization and the UN’s Habitat III summit on the future of cities. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.