Global sustainable development leaders to speak at IIED conference

News, 23 May 2012
Government ministers, heads of UN agencies, business leaders, senior scientists and other experts in sustainable development are set to show that a fairer, greener world is a realistic vision when they speak at a major conference convened by the International Institute for Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro on 16-17 June.

IIED has designed ‘Fair ideas: sharing solutions for a sustainable planet’ to share expertise, ideas and practical experiences from around the world that demonstrate what can be done to tackle poverty and unsustainable development.

Taking place immediately before Heads of States gather in Rio for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio+20), the conference will provide concrete recommendations for policy and action at local, national and global levels.

Global leaders in sustainable development policy, research and practice who will speak at IIED’s event include:

  • Izabella Teixeira, Minister of the Environment, Brazil
  • Ida Auken, Minister of the Environment, Denmark
  • Rene Castro, Minister of Environment, Costa Rica
  • Marina Silva, former Minister of Environment, Brazil
  • Achim Steiner, Executive Director UN Environment Programme
  • Lidia Brito, Head of the Science Policy Division UNESCO
  • Kevin Urama, Executive Director African Technology Policy Studies Network, Kenya
  • Johan Rockstrom, Director Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
  • Rachel Kyte, Vice-President of Sustainable Development, World Bank.
  • Eduardo Braga, Senator and leader of the Senate, Brazil
  • Karen Hamilton, Vice President Unilever, UK
  • Jan McAlpine, Director UN Forum on Forests
  • Pavan Sukhdev, McCluskey Fellow Yale University, former head of UNEP Green Economy Initiative
  • Kathleen Martin, Walmart
  • Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives, India
  • Anders Wijkman, Vice-President of the Club of Rome and the Tällberg Foundation
  • Julia Marton-LeFevre, Director IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature)
  • Ma Jun, Director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, China and 2012 Goldman Prize winner
  • Youba Sokona, Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre
  • Roberto Laureano da Rocha, National Commission of Brazilian Movement of Waste Pickers
  • Judith Rodin, President Rockefeller Foundation
  • Camilo Capiberibe, Governor of Amapa State, Brazil

In contrast to the doom and gloom narrative that will ring out often in Rio next month, the IIED conference will provide a rich mix of positive stories, ground-tested solutions and visionary leadership. Through parallel series of plenary sessions, panel discussions, workshops, seminars and other events, the conference will address four broad themes:

  1. Shaping Sustainable Development Goals. How can these successors to the Millennium Development Goals be framed to effectively guide action in different contexts and for different levels of governance? Fair ideas will point to practical ways in which the goals could work for specific countries and sectors.
  2. Urbanisation that improves lives. Around 95 per cent of global population growth over the next 20 years will take place in cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Can it be shaped to ensure more efficient and equitable use of resources? Fair ideas will identify examples of good practice and share ideas for promoting wider change.
  3. Business models for sustainability. The private sector is key to growth and stability in most countries but many business models still treat environmental and social issues as peripheral to profit generation. Fair ideas will highlight examples that break the mould from a range of sectors, which can be replicated and learnt from.
  4. Transforming economic systems for people and planet. Across the world, economic systems are failing to nurture stable and resilient environments while simultaneously improving the lives of the poor. Fair ideas will showcase experiences in transforming systems to both reduce ecological footprints and more equitably distribute benefits.

"People are coming to Fair ideas to share practical solutions and new ideas that together can help shift global thinking, add momentum to the official summit and demonstrate to political leaders and citizens around the world that sustainable development is within reach,"says Dr Tom Bigg, head of partnerships at IIED.

The conference –hosted by the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro – represents a critical milestone in IIED’s 40 year history of policy research to support sustainable development. The institute played a central role in the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992 (winning first Blue Planet Prize as a result) and at both its predecessor in Stockholm in 1972 and its follow-up in Johannesburg in 2002.

"IIED is committed to translating our expertise and convening capacity into a wider movement for change," says IIED’s director Dr Camilla Toulmin. "We see the Rio summit as the start of a process which can lead to real change from local to global levels, and Fair ideas is an important step in this direction."

More information about Fair ideas and the full programme

Download the new Rio+20 briefing paper by IIED’s director, Dr Camilla Toulmin

Follow the conference online at and on Twitter (#fairideas).


For interviews contact:

Dr Camilla Toulmin ( +44 2034637399

Dr Tom Bigg ( +44 2034637399


Notes to editors

About the International Institute for Environment and Development: IIED is a policy research organisation with 40 years of experience in linking environment and development. Based in London and working on five continents, we specialise in linking local to global. Through close collaboration with partners at the grassroots, we make our research and advocacy relevant to their needs and alive to their realities.

About the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro: PUC-RIO is a not-for-profit private university that aims to create and spread knowledge that respects human values and Christian ethics, and delivers real benefits to society. Widely acclaimed for its excellence in fields ranging from law to economics, PUC-RIO is also renowned for its long-standing and far-reaching links with researchers and students across the world.

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