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Twenty years after global leaders pledged to protect Earth's climate and biodiversity at the Rio Earth Summit, they are back for another try at Rio 2.0. In this special report, Nature shows that while the leaders have made little headway, scientists' understanding of the environmental crisis continues to deepen.

Image credit: Julene Harrison (photo: Samuel Acosta/Shutterstock)



  • Sanitation for all

    Water pollution from sewage is causing great damage to India. The nation needs to complete its waste systems and reinvent toilet technologies, says Sunita Narain.

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  • Ecodesign: The bottom line

    If architecture is 'design for living', one of its greatest challenges is how to live with the masses of waste we excrete. Four pioneers in green sanitation design outline solutions to a dilemma too often shunted down the pan.

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  • Q&A: Architect of change

    Urban campaigner and architect Arif Hasan has been central to a sanitary revolution, transforming Orangi, Karachi, from informal settlement to thriving community. Using his technical know-how, residents built a sewage system, sparking vast social change. Now chair of Pakistan's urbanization task force, he discusses incorporating sustainable design into poor cities.

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  • Biodiversity: Remote responsibility

    International trade is the underlying cause of 30% of threatened animal species extinctions, according to a modelling analysis of the impact of global supply chains and consumption patterns on biodiversity.

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  • Back to Earth

    The world has a surfeit of pledges, commitments and treaties. What it needs from the second Earth summit in Rio is firm leadership and a viable plan for success.

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  • Lead by example

    As host nation of Rio+20, Brazil should do all it can to make the sustainability meeting a success, say Fabio Scarano, André Guimarães and José Maria da Silva.

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  • We must set planetary boundaries wisely

    The concept of environmental thresholds is compelling, but it has the potential to shift political focus to the wrong areas, says Simon L. Lewis.

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