Rio+20 is starting today with a People's Summit - the dignitaries arrive on Wednesday.
The Peoples' Summit is designed to foster alternative ideas and provide an outlet for discontent at what many see as the malign influence of capitalism and UN members, which have failed to preserve biodiversity, eliminate poverty and cut greenhouse gas emissions says The Guardian. Brazil's government is funding the event with $5 million.
200 civil society groups are there, including environmentalists, unions, religious groups and indigenous tribes, for a 9-day event. 15,000 people are expected to participate each day, climaxing with a 50,000 person rally on June 20.
Oil giant Shell, for example, is among the corporate influence that will be felt at Rio+20 Summit, because their lobbying groups are in negotiations, including: the International Chamber of Commerce and International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, warns Friends of the Earth International.
"It is not acceptable that companies like Shell who cause massive pollution and human rights abuses should be in the driving seat of processes for sustainable development. That is a recipe for disaster for our planet and peoples. Corporate polluters should not help making laws, they should face the law," says Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International.
Already announced at the summit is an agreement among 24 corporations to develop an ecological accounting model that sets a financial value on the world's forests, freshwater and marine systems. The Corporate Eco Forum and The Nature Conservancy are leading the Valuing Natural Capital initiative.
The corporations are: Patagonia, Nike, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Alcoa, CH2M Hill, Clorox, Darden, Dell, Disney, Ecolab, EKO Asset Management Partners, Enterprise, FEMSA, GM, Hanes, Kimberly-Clark, Lockheed-Martin, Marriott, TD Bank, Unilever, Weyerhaeuser and Xerox.
It has long been asserted that nature's systems won't be protected until they are fully valued and included in financial models. The Initiative seeks to find ways to cut costs while reducing impacts on ecosystems and growing from products and services that don't harm ecosystems.
But many in the Peoples' Summit are wary of putting that price tag on priceless natural systems that should be protected for non-economic reasons.
Another announcement was made by 37 banks, investment funds and insurance companies. The Natural Capital Declaration says they will work toward integrating Natural Capital considerations into financial products and services.
At the same time, deep in the Amazon, indigenous people are occupying the site of the Belo Monte Dam project, the third largest hydro project in the world, which will flood 400 square-kilometers of the Amazon rainforest.
Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Today, there's a global 24-hour Twitter storm to increase pressure on world leaders to cut nearly $1 trillion in fossil fuel subsidies. The G20 agreed to do it back in 2009, now they need to act - they are also meeting separately this week.
Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies could provide nearly half of global carbon target by 2020, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).
"This world has a few problems where a trillion dollars might come in handy-and we'd have a few less problems if we weren't paying the fossil fuel industry to wreck the climate," says 350.org founder Bill McKibben. "This is the public policy no-brainer of all time."
Tweets from around the world are being broadcast near the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. Activists in Rio unfurled a giant $1 trillion bill on the beach. The global campaign Avaaz.org will deliver a petition with 750,000 signatures to G20 leaders today.
You can sent tweets and follow the action at #EndFossilFuelSubsidies and #Rioplus2
You can also find out if your representative has voted to end fossil fuels, and post on their facebook page, email or call them: