Next week, thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, non governmental organizations, and other stakeholders will gather in Brazil at a United Nations (UN) summit to secure political and economic commitments for sustainable development and to address new and emerging challenges. These objectives recall the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, also held in Rio de Janeiro. Although political progress toward these goals has stagnated, in the intervening 20 years science and technology have moved on. The “Rio+20” meeting should be framed by these new developments.

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