Progressio handed over a 'Waterproof Rio' campaign letter, supported by the names of 462 Progressio campaigners, to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Caroline Spelman, at the Rio+20 discussion event on 23 May.

The letter calls on the UK government "to ensure water for livelihoods, food and farming is placed at the heart of the international agenda at the forthcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20".

Around 200 people attended the panel discussion on "The world we want to see: Rio +20 from a Christian perspective" which was co-hosted by Progressio at Westminster Central Hall in London.

The event featured speeches, discussion and questions from the floor to the panellists Caroline Spelman; the Rt Rev Peter Price, the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells; and Nanette Antequisa, a member of the Beyond 2015 Advisory Group from the Philippines. It was chaired by Richard Black, the BBC News Environment Correspondent.

In her speech, Caroline Spelman said:

"The Deputy Prime Minister and I will be going to Rio in just under a month’s time – and we want to come away with a tangible outcome which will drive action to put the world on a more sustainable footing, which will alleviate poverty and increase equity."

She said this outcome could be in the form of Sustainable Development Goals and that these should "focus on food, water and energy". She said:

"These themes are key – not just to our economy – but for the lives of many of the world’s poorest people."

She added:

"As a Christian, I recognise that the 'Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it' and that the generation I am born into has a responsibility to steward these resources with great care. My hope is we will leave the planet in better condition than we found it for the sake of generations to come."

The event was organised by Progressio, Christian Aid, Tearfund and Cafod, and Christine Allen, Progressio's Executive Director, said afterwards:

"It was great to have the profile of Progressio right up there alongside the other three agencies, and I know we all want to continue to work together.

"Speaking to her afterwards, Caroline Spelman said to me how marvellous it was to have had the event and how important it was for the Christian communities to be actively engaging with Rio+20. When I was at a breakfast briefing with Caroline and Nick Clegg the other week, they both made a big point of needing to engage people and the public so much more on this.

"That's why we're so pleased to have been able to hand over the "Waterproof" campaign letter supported by the photo petition from Progressio campaigners. It shows that Progressio supporters are having a real impact on the policy debate ahead of the crucial Rio+20 conference - and through their support for Progressio campaigns, a real impact on the lives of poor and marginalised people and communities throughout the world."

photo petition

Above: a selection from the 'Waterproof Rio' photo petition put together by Progressio campaigners.

Photo at top: Progressio ICS volunteers Charlotte Hawkins (second from right) and Meryl Noronha (with watering can) hand the campaign letter to Caroline Spelman MP (second from left) accompanied by Progressio Executive Director Christine Allen (far left). (Photo © Layton Thompson/Progressio)