10 July Jul 2012 1000 10 July 2012

AVSI at Rio+20: “The human being: the core of a sustainable city”

The International Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, ended leaving two main reactions: on the one hand the enthusiasm for having emphasized the need for a global green growth, with great opportunities to overcome the crisis without exhausting the earth’s resources. On the other hand there is a grave disappointment concerning this apparent position which is getting more and more focused on economic criteria rather than on  environmental issues. So, the main topics of the Conference were respectively the green economy and the greenwashing.

Regarding AVSI’s experience, the aspect of a global  concern for a “green” growth is certainly positive. There is a growing trend to define common rules for a more efficient and wise use of resources.
But in this context focused on environment and economy, the person is left out. In fact, the global commitment is much more addressed to sustainability, with the emphasis on the economic or environmental aspect,  rather than on people, especially the poorest and excluded.
In this regard, a sign of concern came from the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, who mentioned the third leg of social inclusion. However, we must recognize that the person is the subject of the economic dimension and environmental preservation.

Caritas in Veritate’s words turned out to be prophetic: “Human beings legitimately exercise a responsible stewardship over nature, in order to protect it, to enjoy its fruits and to cultivate it in new ways, with the assistance of advanced technologies, so that it can worthily accommodate and feed the world's population. On this earth there is room for everyone: here the entire human family must find the resources to live with dignity, through the help of nature itself — God's gift to his children — and through hard work and creativity. At the same time we must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it. This means being committed to making joint decisions “after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”
The city is one of the crucial challenges for sustainable development. According to AVSI’s experience, the prospect of a sustainable city is only possible if the person is at the core of development policies.
Often, talking about sustainable cities we refer to services, transport, energy, traffic but the protagonist of all these issues, the person, is not clearly mentioned.
This is what emerged from the side event “The human being: the core of a sustainable city” where AVSI's 20 years of experience in the urban sector has been traced to arrive today at a present full of challenges: the collaboration with the 
Ministry of Cities of Brazil to develop a methodology of social intervention; the collaboration with the Municipality of Maputo, Mozambique, to carry out an intervention in a poor area by transferring the Brazilian methodology; the collaboration with Cesal, the Spanish AVSI partner, and the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing of Ecuador to relocate people living in areas at risk.
From the experience of the organization CDM, AVSI partner in Brazil, came out why the work of CSOs is crucial to reach the single person and “hooking” him/her to city services.
In order to highlight that a city is made up of people and can be sustainable if we think about their services, Bruno, young witness from Rio, told his experience and how today he has a concrete job opportunity.
The event gathered about one hundred people from different countries ranging from business representatives to local authorities.