As soon as the 1992 Earth Summit came to a close, Brazilian and international media outlets set themselves an ambitious goal: to bring the environmental issue to the news and raise public awareness of issues that had so far been limited to the circle of activists, scientists and members of government agencies. There will be different challenges after the closing of Rio+20, on June 22: improving, increasing and promoting digital activism.
As a matter of fact, the communication efforts started 40 years ago, at the Stockholm Conference, held in June 1972. On that occasion, the participating countries at the first major conference of the series that extends to this day highlighted the importance of the media in shaping public opinion, which effectively happened only at the 1992 Earth Summit.
Rio+20, the conference that started on Wednesday, June 13, includes a new element that did not exist in 1972 and played an insignificant role in 1992: emerging technologies and participation through social networks. If most of the communication was based on mass media at previous conferences, the main focus now is on emerging technologies and digital communication.
The Zero Draft – the document that serves as a basis for the discussions among the Rio+20 participants – suggests that the focus now is on the general public, which already explores, discusses, responds to and disseminates information on environmental and other sustainability issues. The Zero Draft contains no reference to mainstream media. In turn, emerging technologies are referred to twice. If the trend is confirmed, Rio+20 will be the conference of digital activism.
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