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Issue #1553      27 June 2012

From hope to despair

The future we want is nowhere to be found in the already agreed Rio+20 outcome text, which world leaders are now rubber stamping and Greenwashing. The spin cycle has begun. At the same time some 20,000 people marched on the streets of Rio in protest with an air of despair but clinging to hope.

Host President Dilma Rousseff’s rhetoric could not be further from the reality of the tragic missed opportunity of the weak deal being agreed in Rio. Her grand sounding adjectives describing the result as involving “courage, ambition, responsibility and urgency” are totally dissonant with the lack of commitment, targets and cash put on the table here.

The two summits on sustainable development happening in Rio could not be more different. The Peoples’ Summit is buzzing with hope and solutions while 40 kilometres across town, the Rio+20 Summit was damp with despair and problems.

In the tented Peoples’ Summit ideas and opportunities are being shared about how to address the crises of environment, equity and ecology. Experts explained that we have energy solutions to bring about a green energy revolution, avoiding catastrophic climate change and providing access to power for 1.6 billion people who have none: an energy revolution that would provide millions with decent jobs and bolster failing economies. Instead of bailing out banks and bankrolling the fossil fuel industry, as happened in the G20 in Mexico while the negotiators in Rio deleted any sensible progress in the already weak draft document, people called for leaders to fund green economies.

Importantly too, the peoples summit is largely devoid of national parochialism and national self interest. This transnational, inclusive global approach, was seen in virtually every challenge facing humanity that was addressed: Indigenous peoples rights, the challenge to generate decent green jobs, gender equality, forest protection, defending our oceans and much more.

At the “official” summit, you see exactly the opposite. The majority of countries put their idea of national self interest first, regional interests second and global concerns third. Unless governments realise that certain problems, such as climate change, an inclusive global economy and so on are addressed in a genuinely global manner, and follow the lead of the majority of civil society, we have no reason to be optimistic.

Greenpeace Brazil continues to collect signatures in support of a Zero Deforestation law. Plans have been unveiled to end the “wild west” exploitation of the high seas and explanations where given on how sustainable agriculture can end hunger.

Nearly 10,000 people have come to visit the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, our own high tech testament to what can be done to save the world tomorrow with technology available today. Their excitement and that of our bright young Brazilian volunteers are a fabulous antidote to the frustration of the bland beige dull atmosphere of the formal governmental summit.

If world leaders had only taken the time to listen, to attend, perhaps they would have been as inspired as I was by the energy and excitement for the world we could build together.

While much could have been achieved over three days in the Rio conference centre to put the world on the path of sustainable development, real decisions are being taken each and every day in capitals and boardrooms around the world.

We still need a global deal, we need global governance to support and foster a great transition where equity, economy and ecology are not in competition but in harmony to deliver sustainable development.

But, to borrow from UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon’s opening speech we must “… follow up on Rio+20 with commitment and action. Now is the time for action.” Yes, indeed! People must take note of the failure in Rio, they need to join together in defence of the planet and for the future our children need.

Unless we build a movement in the present like no other the world has ever seen, The Future We Want will remain a tented dream.

Greenpeace  

Next article – Culture & Life – Class, ethnicity and media barons

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