This Week In Sustainability – Week of June 25

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The Official Blog of Microsoft's
Environmental Sustainability Team

This Week In Sustainability – Week of June 25

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clip_image002As the Rio+20 Earth Summit ended last week, there’s been much debate over the outcomes of the conference. Stephen Lacey with Think Progress wrote an in-depth article looking beyond Rio’s negotiations to focus on the “other side” of Rio+20—the connections that were made among people from all over the world committed to addressing environmental issues. With more than 45,000 attendees, people came to learn from one another and share knowledge about sustainable solutions, not simply negotiate policy. While there is talk that the Rio+20 summit “marked an end to multilateral negotiations on sustainability,” new forums have been established, encouraging more participation among business and local municipalities in addition to national governments. In the post, Manish Bapna, executive vice president of the World Resources Institute, calls Rio a “‘failed opportunity’ to rally world leaders around an actionable plan for sustainability” but notes that the focus should be on the work of entrepreneurs and activists rather than the work of diplomats. As we’ve written about in our posts from Rio, we still see an important role for government leaders to agree on action to address climate change. But at the same time we were pleased to see the voice of business emerging at Rio+20.

clip_image004Elsewhere, smart cities remain a major part of the sustainability discussion in a GigaOm piece about using big data to help create smart cities. While cities are designed to maximize wealth, innovation, and invention, they also produce socioeconomic effects, both good and bad. Technology for capturing and analyzing data has great potential for addressing of its real-world problems. The GigaOm story cites The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Information event that occurred earlier this month in San Francisco and looked at how data can be implemented into city infrastructure with mechanical sensors, statistical input and human observation. This shift toward a more technologically-centered world can greatly improve cities, helping them become smarter and more efficient. With the current pace of innovation, cities need to be able to keep up with population growth by using information technology to capture and analyze massive amounts of data to identify how resources can be used more efficiently.

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