Curtain down and nothing settled: global sustainability governance after the 'Rio+20' Earth Summit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, was probably the largest event in a long series of megasummits on environmental protection and sustainable development. Roughly 44 000 participants descended on Rio de Janeiro to take part in ten days of preparatory committee meetings, informal consultations, side events, and the actual conference. Yet despite this unprecedented high attendance by participants from governments and civil society, the outcome of the conference is less than many had hoped for. In this paper I review the outcomes of the 2012 Rio conference in detail, with a special focus on its contributions towards the reform of the institutional framework for sustainable development. Following this review, I discuss the way ahead and options for structural reform to restrengthen earth system governance.


  • Frank Biermann
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • sustainable development, Rio+20, governance, United Nations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1114
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch