Friday, 1 June 2012

Rio+20 - The last UN mega conference?

The Rio+20 conference is about to open in Rio de Janeiro on June 20: 

The hype: 

"Rio+20 is everyone's conference, just as it is everyone's planet. Its goals, aspirations and its outcome will belong to all of us. 

Over 135 heads of state and government and up to 50,000 participants, including business executives and civil society representatives, will be present when the conference opens on Jun. 20. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calls it "one of the most important conferences in U.N. history". 

Sha Zukangsecretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20

The reality: 

The largest-ever United Nations conference, a summit billed as a historic opportunity to build a greener future, appears to be going up in smoke.
U.S. President Barack Obama likely won't be there, and the leaders of Britain and Germany have bowed out.

And with fewer than six weeks to go until the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, negotiations to produce a final statement have stalled amid squabbling. Logistical snags, too, threaten to derail the event.
The average cost of a room in Rio during the conference has risen to $818 per night, according to a report this week by Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency. And some hotels are taking advantage of the shortage of accommodations by requiring guests to book for an.  entire week, even if they intend to stay for just three or four nights.

 With a total of 33,000 beds for the estimated 50,000-plus visitors expected to flood the city for the June 20-22 summit, the mayor has resorted to asking residents to leave town and rent out their apartments to delegates.

Brazil will deploy 15,000 security forces for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held here in June, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said on Monday.

According to the plan, the Army and local police forces will patrol the streets, the Air Force and the Navy will patrol airspace and sea, and the Federal Police will be oversee foreign delegates' personal security.

The Army will also be in charge of the security of the People's Summit, a parallel conference to be held in another neighborhood and is expected to gather over 20,000 citizens.


This is the positive scenario: The sheer madness of the entire Rio+20 undertaking could  - and should - make it the last UN mega conference. But, knowing that there are thousands of UN, EU, national and other diplomats and bureaucrats, who´s main occupation is to plan and attend this kind of senseless jamborees (paid for by taxpayers), this hope may be too optimistic. 

Most Rio+20 delegates will be delighted to know that there is at least one place in Rio which will remain free of charge: The Copacabana!

However, if you want to rent a beach chair, be prepared to pay at least five times more than the ordinary R$4.00.

1 comment:

Steve Salmony said...

If we agree to “think globally”, it becomes evident that riveting attention on GROWTH could be a grave mistake because we are denying how economic and population growth in the communities in which we live cannot continue as it has until now. Each village's resources are being dissipated, each town's environment degraded and every city's fitness as place for our children to inhabit is being threatened. To proclaim something like, 'the meat of any community plan for the future is, of course, growth' fails to acknowledge that many villages, towns and cities are already ‘built out’, and also ‘filled in’ with people. If the quality of life we enjoy now is to be maintained for the children, then limits on economic and population growth will have to be set. By so doing, we choose to “act locally" and sustainably.
More economic and population growth are no longer sustainable in many too many places on the surface of Earth because biological constraints and physical limitations are immutably imposed upon ever increasing human consumption, production and population activities of people in many communities where most of us reside. Inasmuch as the Earth is finite with frangible environs, there comes a point at which GROWTH is unsustainable. There is much work to done locally. But that effort cannot reasonably begin without sensibly limiting economic and population growth.
To quote another source, “We face a wide-open opportunity to break with the old ways of doing the town’s business…..” That is a true statement. But the necessary “break with the old ways” of continuous economic and population growth is not what is occurring. There is a call for a break with the old ways, but the required changes in behavior are not what is being proposed as we plan for the future. What is being proposed and continues to occur is more of the same, old business-as-usual overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, the very activities that appear to be growing unsustainably. More business-as-usual could soon become patently unsustainable, both locally and globally. A finite planet with the size, composition and environs of the Earth and a community with the boundaries, limited resources and wondrous climate of villages, towns and cities where we live may not be able to sustain much longer the economic and population growth that is occurring on our watch. Perhaps necessary changes away from UNSUSTAINABLE GROWTH and toward sustainable lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises are in the offing.
Think globally while there is still time and act locally before it is too late for human action to make any difference in the clear and presently dangerous course of unfolding human-induced ecological events, both in our planetary home and in our villages, towns and cities.