The recent Rio+20 Summit was met with anticipated disappointment by the global community on its 20th anniversary, unfortunately. Little was resolved, only previous agreements and decisions were reiterated, to the frustration of both heads of state and concerned citizens pulling for a safer, more temperate earth. The Summit ended on Friday with a 253 paragraph statement titled “The Future We Want”, and was a gentle, non-controversial restatement of already known and discussed facets of the summit. It pointed out that a change was in order. It took 253 paragraphs to say that, more or less. Though brevity was clearly not a strong point here, the summit succeeded in not ruffling any feathers. However, some feathers are in dire need of ruffling to call attention to the issues which need it. Things remained calm, and no disagreements ensued. This qualified the summit as a success to those who value diplomacy over change where change is desperately due.
This statement piece was created to not rock any boats, though that meant not getting any further in the journey to a more sustainable environment, or any real solutions to the steepening global crises. This text was bluntly called “the longest suicide note in history” by Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International. Naidoo remarked additionally that three e’s: equity, environment and economics, are categories which are inseparable and need to be solved together.
One of these: equity, was a source of both tension and contention, and was viewed as a failure in the summit as reproductive rights were left out of the final statement. Along with some of its other shortcomings was its failure to address renewable energy options and nuclear energy. The latter was especially bitter, yet pressing, because of the recent Fukushima disaster.
This summit perhaps accomplished little to speak of, and none of us are batting an eyelash at the tiny ripple the meeting made, but it serves as a reminder. It reminds us all that the earth is thirsty for improvement, and we all have a role in feeding her. We all have a chance to make this place, our home, a better one for all of us. The 20th anniversary of the summit is as good a time as any to embark on what the goal was originally: to implement our ideas to breathe new life into the planet for the future we need.