By Kelly

Informal shot of the ANU student delegation after a briefing with Ms Christine Schweitzer, Assistant Secretary of the Rio+20 Australian Government Taskforce

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is being hosted in Rio de Janeiro this June. Rio+20 marks the 20th anniversary since the 1992 United Nation’s Conference on the Environment and Development. For any of you that are as old as me, you can clearly remember the 1992 conference and the hope that was generated from a global aspiration to protect the environment while eradicating poverty….and then we didn’t sign in Kyoto. Past shame aside, this year an estimated 150 heads of State and 50 thousand delegates from across the globe will descend upon Brazil to focus on two major themes: 1) The green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and 2) The institutional framework for sustainable development.

Sixteen of these 50 thousand will be a mix of undergraduates and postgraduates from the ANU. One of our very own from RSES, Sarlae McAlpine, will represent as the Earth Scientist in the delegation. The student delegation come from a variety of backgrounds, from law to resource management, and economics to international relations, highlighting the truly interdisciplinary nature of tackling development in the light of a changing environment. Our student delegation is self-funded and having gotten through the incredibly competitive selection process, the delegates are now turning their attention to the task of fundraising.

To help send this highly motivated delegation the Food Co-op shop will host an event Rio +20 + SOUP. From 5:15pm this Sunday, a donation upon entry will entitle you to a good conscience and some hearty winter soup that you can eat while watching a documentary about Australia’s Nuclear legacy and listening to the benefit gig. For more details of this very worthy cause, please click here ….and read on!

The delegation plans to divide and conquer so to speak, with Sarlae covering the critical issue of “Reduced Disaster Risk and Building Resillience”. A research paper on each student’s chosen topic will be presented at an upcoming Symposium hosted by the ANU Law School. The symposium is open to the public and for more information contact Sarlae McAlpine.

I am ever so amazingly envious as this is the ultimate opportunity to experience science, policy and international diplomacy on a truly international stage. The delegation will be blogging from the meeting, with their site currently being developed and accessible from our blogroll, or through

I have so many questions I want to ask Sarlae about being the scientist in the delegation, about the attitude of different disciplines toward the science and what she hopes to gain from the experience. But first and foremost let’s get her to Rio! I hope you can all attend the event and look forward to what will be a weekly chat with Sarlae about her unconventional career path from an academic geologist to UN ambassador*!

* See I told you there was more to a PhD than academia, see below.