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22 Jun 2012: Rio+20 Summit Ends, With
Little Faith Seen in Government Solutions

Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro promised an era of aggressive action on biodiversity loss and global warming, the United Nations Rio+20 sustainability summit ended Friday with recriminations and a growing sense that international institutions will play an increasingly diminished role in solving environmental problems. World leaders — with the notable absence of the heads of the U.S., U.K, Germany, and Russia — approved an agreement that lacked specifics, commitments, and measurable targets on how to promote sustainable economic development. Numerous conservationists and officials said that cities, local governments, the private sector, and environmental groups will now have to play the key role in fostering sustainable economic growth, slowing climate change, and preserving biodiversity. “The greening of our economies will have to happen without the blessing of world leaders,” said Lasse Gustavson, executive director of the World Wildlife Fund. Speaking on the final day of the summit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. would partner with 400 companies to eliminate deforestation in their supply chains and would provide $20 million in grants for clean energy projects in Africa.

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