Americans wondering what transpires at the U.N. got some answers on Monday when the United Nations Association of the U.S. (UNA-USA) hosted a day for members. Sustainability was first and foremost on the agenda for those attending, namely business and community leaders, the media, individual supporters and academics.

As Patrick Madden, executive director of UNA-USA said, “There are various conspiracy theories swirling around about what the U.N. does. In the U.S. it’s a particular challenge since most U.S. citizens don’t see the U.N. directly at work in their country. That makes it harder for most of the American public to see the benefits”. Minh-Thu Phan, UNA-USA director of public policy, added, “Many Americans care about these issues, but not enough to act on them or to call their congressmen.”

Sustainability is an area where the U.N. has been active, and one that has gained traction in the public and private sectors. On Monday the panel discussed the aftermath of Rio+ 20, a U.N. conference on sustainable development that was the U.N.’s biggest conference ever, with 50,000 attendees in Brazil last June.

“The message was simple: we need to re-think development”. Those were the words of Nikhil Seth, a U.N. director of sustainable development. He provided a broad overview of the Rio + 20 conference, and Eban Goodstein, director of Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy, focused on sustainable business issues.

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