Rio+20 – Freedom to Pollute

- a sculptural outcry on sustainability and climate change

It is more urgent than ever before to keep attention and focus on the sustainability agenda. To have ambitious and inspiring goals in Denmark and internationally to put pressure on the UN conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil June 2012.

But that takes public attention and interest.

After COP15 the attention of Danish as well as international media and artist have cooled considerably. All the while heat records and extreme weather is piling up.


The project evolves around the Rio+20 conference from June 13th to June 22nd 2012. The conference marks the 20th anniversary for the first UN summit on sustainability and development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which lead to the Agenda21 declaration, was the foundation for the Koyto-protocol and the COP climate summits and much more.

With the use of the artist Jens Galschiøt's sculptures, we will renew public and media attention to sustainability and climate issues.

The target for the project is to ensure:


The project has three components.

  1. Sculptural parade and debate at Folkemødet in Denmark

  2. Sculptural parade in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

  3. Media activities including video production and press work

The Sculptures

Freedom to pollute. The sculpture is a copy of the Statue of liberty, but unlike the original this sculpture pollutes the air with smoke from the torch and on her tablet it says: 'Freedom to Pollute'. The sculpture questions whether we can justify inhibited pollution with the Western freedom ideal. It points out the conflict, that if we are concerned for our planet, then we need to restrict our excesses – and both politicians and regularly citizens are often not willing to do so. The sculpture have been used on several other manifestations on environment and sustainability such as COP-15 in Copenhagen, Johannesburg 2002 and Rostock.

Climate Refugees. The bronze sculptures of refugees from all continents comment on the linkage between sustainability and development, where climate changes and scarcity of resources pushes people into poverty and refuge. Our current global production and consumption patterns are undermining local livelihoods, and as history has shown us: people always move to where they can secure their livelihood.

In the Name of God. The sculpture is a comment on the fundamentalist Christian church's ideas on family planning, that limit women's right to control their own body and life. Valuable resources are also lost to society due to unwanted pregnancies keeping young girls out of school and too large families unable to sustain themselves. A sustainable population growth is hampered.

The Balancing Act. The sculpture symbolizes the necessary balancing act that humanity has to master in order to ensure sustainable development. The sculptures are part of a Scandinavian campaign for the UN decade for education for sustainable development (2005-2014).

1. Folkemødet

From the 14th to the 17th of June the activities in the project will mainly take part in Folkemødet with daily transmissions and video documentaries from the team in Rio. The sculptures will also be at Folkemødet (except from In the Name of God) and be used for at sculptural parade.

2. Rio de Janiero

After Folkemødet is over, the team in Rio will set up a sustainability parade with the sculptures in Rio as well. This will take place at the Peoples summit in Flamengo Park as well as at the official negotiation space.

During the parade the team will hand out flyers which raise the question, whether we really know how to handle the sustainability problems, and want to make the sacrifices that it will take.

3. Media activities

In the beginning short video documentaries will be produced for Folkemødet and broadcasted on Youtube on a daily basis. A longer video documentary about the project will be produced to be published after the conference as well.

The parade and the pavilion will also serve as platforms for getting news stories in the media about the conference and sustainability. Press releases will be send out to Danish as well as international media.

The website will continually be updated with the development of the project.