Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Achim Steiner would say yes.
In a recent presentation he made in Basel, Switzerland, on the impact of the summit on international cooperation on the environment and sustainable development, Steiner mapped the genesis of the meeting and its achievements.
"The outcomes of Rio+20 may signal a new determination by and cooperation between governments to implement sustainable development as the only option for peace, security and prosperity into the future," he said.
The outcomes which he listed related to consumption and production, sustainable procurement, sustainability reporting, and GDP and the green economy.
"Rio+20 and the post-Rio+20 world also made some progress in terms of addressing culturally different political approaches," said Steiner.
"For example, Bolivia, which staunchly questioned a Green Economy, and China, whose chosen pathway was 'Ecological Civilisation', came together to negotiate supportively and avidly on the topic at the recent UNEP GC.
Only time will tell, he added, if Rio+20 can usher in a new era, "but there are reasons to be optimistic".
Those reasons, as itemised by the under-secretary general, are:
* Two months ago, here in Switzerland governments finalised negotiations on a new global treaty on mercury, the notorious heavy metal, after more than a decade of debate.
* In his State of the Union address 2013, President Barack Obama signalled America's determination to re-engage on climate change.
* China is planning to spend over US$1 trillion on renewable energy and other environmental-based investments.
* Kenya, where UNEP is headquartered, is investing and reinvesting in its forests and multi-billion services alongside expanding geothermal and wind power.
* In December, at the UN climate change conference, governments agreed to establish a climate centre and networks to assist in fast-tracking the uptake of clean energy and energy-efficient buildings.
He added: "The world remains on the track GEO-5 illuminated, but today the realisation and the reality of transformational options and choices are far more on the global radar.
"Rio+20 has played a role in focusing and concentrating minds on the Future We Want and has sparked a new wave of cooperative action — the challenge is to keep up the momentum."
What is GEO 5?
IN advance of Rio+20, UNEP launched its Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO 5) — the fifth flagship report in a series that began shortly after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.
It was produced over three years in a global process that involved more than six hundred experts, who collated and analyzed data from every continent to build up a detailed picture of the world's wellbeing.
It assessed 90 of the most-important environmental goals and objectives agreed over the past 20 to 40 years and found that significant progress had only been made in four.
These are eliminating the production and use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, removal of lead from fuel, increasing access to improved water supplies and boosting research to reduce pollution of the marine environment.
Some progress was shown in 40 goals, including the expansion of protected areas such as National Parks and efforts to reduce deforestation.
Little or no progress was detected for 24 — including climate change, fish stocks, and desertification and drought.
Further deterioration was posted for eight goals, including the state of the world's coral reefs, while no assessment was made of 14 other goals due to a lack of data.
The report cautioned that if humanity does not urgently change its ways, several critical thresholds may be exceeded, beyond which abrupt and generally irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur.
The report also drew on a multiplicity of other assessments and studies including those of the International Resource Panel — hosted by UNEP.
The Panel has concluded that the consumption of natural resources will triple by 2050 under current patterns — an unsustainable pathway by any measure.
Above all, GEO-5 illuminated in very concrete ways a world of achievement in terms of treaties aimed at tackling everything from trade in endangered species, climate change and chemicals set against a world of failed implementation.
Yet GEO-5 also expressed another reality — a world awash with inspiring examples of positive environmental change by communities, countries, cities and companies, and many achievements internationally, regionally and nationally.
* A world already rich in successful policy initiatives, including public investment, green accounting, sustainable trade, the establishment
of new markets, technological innovation and capacity building.
* Achievements and policies which, if only scaled-up and accelerated, could counter poverty and shift economies into the sustainability space.
The development of GEO-5 and the Rio+20 Summit came also against a backdrop of the fallout from the economic and financial crisis of 2008.