HDR Challenge Winner at Rio+20

HDR Challenge Winner at Rio+20

As the winner* of our HDR 2011 Challenge, Carlo Zapponi had the opportunity to fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, where world leaders and thousands of participants from government, the private sector, and NGOs came together to figure out solutions for a more stable, secure, and equitable future for all. Carlo shares his thoughts, experiences, and pictures from the trip with us below!

Upon our arrival in Rio de Janeiro, the first sign of the conference was the wide range of different languages you could hear while walking on the streets — not only Portuguese, but a real babel of idioms — and different traditional dresses.

On our first day we headed to Riocentro, where the main conference was held, and though it took us about two hours to reach our destination the view made the trip worth it. At the conference, we were among people from every corner of the world discussing a variety issues, not only inside the conference halls but also outside. The atmosphere was very relaxed and people organized themselves in the garden, hallways, and at various open spaces and meeting points. It really felt like everyone was there to find solutions for the world and that their interest was not forced, but came from within. There were participants dressed in their traditional clothes, and every talk was very open, with speakers not only presenting topics but also taking questions from participants and going into great detail to explain the points.

The issues discussed were varied but all had a common theme — sustainability. One of the most interesting areas was the "Side Events" pavilion, where governments, major groups and organizations from the UN system had a space to present their projects and meet people. It really felt like the most sparkling area! There we could attend events such as "Energy Day" and the "Leaders' Forum on the Future Women Want: Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment for Sustainable Development".

Also noteworthy was that youth from all over the world had taken great interest in these important discussions and were active in their participation. What fascinated us more was that they were not only vocal, but they also expressed their opinions through art, posters and organized events that they asked people to join.


While most of the conference took place mainly at Riocentro, there were also special events throughout the city to connect with people not directly involved in the Rio+20 Conference. Two such events were at Cinel├índia Square, where we saw a photography exhibition, A Terra Vista do Ceu (An Earth From Above), showing 130 pictures by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and found a giant map of the world highlighting sustainability in front of the Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theatre).

Overall it was a very wonderful experience that gave us a wider perspective of the world, which was greatly added to by the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro and its people.


*The winning visualization, WorldShapin, is created by Carlo Zapponi and Vasundhara Parakh. 

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