The next earth Summit will start in Rio on the 20th of June. 20 years after the first edition of this worldwide reunion , it is time to assess the situation and reiterate forgotten promises. Surprisingly this event is hard put to interest the general public and even to a certain extent its participants. The blame should not only be placed on the return of the summer season and the soccer competition, because it lies elsewhere as well.
In 1922, Rio was the base of the first Earth summit in which the notion of “sustainable development” had been discussed. Defined as a vision of a harmonised growth integrating the economic, environmental and social aspects; it made people dream of a beautiful future with justice and equality for all where all the world populations could rejoice in the fulfilment of their needs without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet theirs (link on definition). The goal of this summit was also to define the basis of the sacred unions between associations, enterprises and countries. The optimism and energy deployed were used as catalysts for the development of progress points such as the Millennium Development Goals, concentrated on the subject of the eradication of poverty by 2015.
20 years later, the situation is difficult. The repeated economic crises, and the increasing difference between the rich and the poor have shown us that the models or solutions proposed so far are not adapted. The food and sanitation crises, the lack of access to basic human rights such as medical care or education, have shown us that the impact of the measures taken is not visible: we are not responding to the needs of the most vulnerable populations. The unpredictability of natural disasters or knowing that the availability of certain resources is not ensured, are other issues weighing on the future generations. The current collapse of certain world economies have shown us the frailty of these giant systems which we have created. Through their impact on the society at large we can see just how important it is to have an integrated vision of internal growth.
That sure is where the shoe pinches. Thousands of big thinkers and basic people are meeting up in Rio, but all hope has been lost. The abstract concepts such as “green economy”, very fashionable in Rio these days, do not excite people anymore. The unclear aspects of the concept and the lack in trust amongst its followers is at fault here.
According to some first declarations, Rio +20 seems to already be doomed to failure. There is still however a certain enthusiasm present for the Leaders’ summit (which started June 15th). The indigenous movements, the Arab revolutions are clear indications that new stronger populations are expressing themselves and fighting for what they want. These movements, though quite new, are based on the notion that any single individual whether rich or poor can make a difference. This positive message carries hope and optimism to all of those who believe in it. Unlike what some may have led to believe, today’s young generation, are not less concerned by these issues as their parents (see the example of the young ambassadors of Terre des hommes Germany in Rio, but just use other methods to express themselves. We do not take the necessary time to listen to their opinions and to take them into consideration when discussing the future alternatives for sustainable development.
This Rio+20 clearly proves that we are the ones with a lack of vision for the future. This can be seen as the end of a dream, or as an opportunity for a new beginning. We need to seize the moment and rewrite the new rules on a fresh blank page.