Safe Planet at the Rio + 20 Earth Summit: UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 19 - 24, 2012


World leaders, government officials, and civil society and private sector representatives came together to discuss the best ways to work towards achieving a global ‘green economy', poverty eradication and sustainable development. Our small Czech-based NGO, Art Dialogue, also participated this event as acting advisor in Arts, Education, Outreach to the UN Safe Planet Campaign in the aim of increasing awareness on Hazardous Chemicals and Waste- our mandate with the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions and UNEP. (More about Rio+20 and the city of Rio here.)

We were fortunate to gather a strong team of (co-incidentally all women) from the US and Czech Republic to produce several events in the city of Rio during the conference period:

  • Art Dialogue’s Film Night and Panel Discussion was held at the Cidade Universitária da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro on June 21 in the aim of engaging the public in outreach that was artistic in nature (films), informative (educational) and provocative (scientifically based). More about this event…

  • Art Dialogue's Outreach Event "To the Streets: Carnival & Intervention" was held on June 23 at Impanema Beach. Barbara Benish, together with TEF Co-founder June Gorman, 5Gyres Leslie Moyers, local and foreign artists, and student volunteers from The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, created a public intervention. The energetic group carried the Safe Planet banner, created quite a spectacle and engaged curious beach-goershanded in conversation about e-waste, climate change, sustainable education and plastic pollution in the marine environment. Informational flyers were handed out to hundreds of people. (More about this event here.) 

  • The special costumes used during the beach parade of sea-themed characters including mermaids, fish and Neptune, the Roman god of water and the sea, were all made of waste plastic materials found on the beach, designed by Jana Prekova (award-winning scenographer and costume designer for the Czech National Theatre) and Jimena Villaseca (Santiago, Chile). (See the artists’ creation process here.)

Besides our own events, we visited the very charming city of Rio de Janeiro, attended as well much of the Conference, which despite the disappointing official outcomes, gave us hope regarding two issues: Oceans and Civil Society (NGO representation). Both areas had high aims going into Rio, and, while not achieving the 100% success we all hoped for, there was definitely a shift in the weather. The increased participation and credit given to NGO’s was due to an adamant demand on June 20th, the opening day of the Plenary Session, to refrain from endorsing the Rio outcome, and crying for the elimination of the words “in full participation with civil society”. This strong stand will have powerful future repercussions, we believe.

Check fresh photos of Rio’s city scenery by Art Dialogue's representative Barbara Benish: See ArtDialogue's Rio Summary


ArtMill Center for Sustainable Creativity has, since 2005 been fostering international cultural exchange not only in the arts, but via youth programs in sustainability, languages, and broader social issues revolving around civic society inspired by the political changes that occurred in the former Soviet-bloc countries of Europe in 1989. Participating in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development allows our organization to bring information and creative tools to the youth that come to us to study as well as via our social media platforms at Safe Planet, Art Dialogue, and our partner organizations in Rio which included the 5Gyres Institute and Transformative Education Forum, amongst others.

Art Dialogue was proud to be one of the over one thousand NGOs at this important conference helping to strengthen civil societies broad international base for future sustainable development worldwide.