URI Addresses Sustainability at UN Conference

15 June 2012

The two-day conference will bring together more than 120 heads of state and government leaders and thousands of participants from private and non-profit organizations to address the problems of poverty, social inequality and environmental degradation.  The event, coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 20-22, will mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development.


The Rio+20 conference will include “The Spirituality of Ethics and Water,” a panel that looks at water as an element of every faith tradition – and asks how that consideration can promote the thoughtful use of this vital resource.  The June 18 event, organized by URI Trustee-Elect Heidi Rautionmaa and co-sponsored by URI, URI Brasil, URI Finland, Faiths Without Borders, the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Water Network, will conclude with the blessing of water samples brought from many parts of the world.


Several other Rio+20 events will include URI members in vital roles.  URI’s Sierra Flanigan, a campus sustainability coordinator, will be a featured panelist for “Aligned Awareness and Action for the Future We Want” on June 18. The discussion – which will also include a yogic farmer, a solar entrepreneur and the leader of an indigenous spiritual council – will discuss how an holistic approach can improve responses to global crises. 


Other participants in Rio+20 panel discussions will include URI members Andre Porto of Brazil, Helen Cynamon, Tarah and Tyger Quinn Stafford and Global Council Trustee Rebecca Tobias of Canada, Reijo Heinonen and Tapo Varis of Finland, Purushottama Krishna Das from Switzerland, Sundance Chief Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh People, Everett Hoffman of the United States and Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. of the Yankton Dakota and Chickasaw First Nations.


In addition, eleven-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a member of the Tsleil Wathuth First Nation (and URI’s Protecting and Restoring the Sacred Cooperation Circle) will participate in a Rio+20 side event on June 19:  “Women Leading the Way: Mobilizing for an Equitable, Resilient and Thriving Future.”   The event highlights the role of women as worldwide agents of environmental change, and will serve as the launch for the International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative.



Monday, June 18:

“The Spirituality and Ethics of Water,” 9:30-11 a.m., P3-B, RioCentro Convention Center.

 “Aligned Awareness and Action for the Future We Want,” 9:30-11 a.m., T-4, RioCentro.


Tuesday, June 19 (side event):

“Women Leading the Way: Mobilizing for an Equitable, Resilient and Thriving Future,” UN2, Barra da Arena