Curtain Raiser

They’ve Stopped Making Sense in Rio, Colltalers

The U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development that just concluded in Brazil has taught the world some useful things. Unfortunately, none of which has anything to do with the environment, climate change, water accessibility, natural resources or hunger.
It’s shown, once and for all, the utter failure of this kind of gigantic, brand-sponsored, excellent windows of political opportunity in deliver even the minimal progress its staggering costs would justify spending.
While it lacked even the dubious exposure that the Earth Summit in 1992 at least managed to convey, this year’s edition didn’t even include input of some of the most respected organizations in the field, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, indigenous groups, Amazon activists and countless of others.
Instead, its mostly corporate-sponsored committees and sub-groups were populated with a roster of anonymous but powerful lobbyists, ‘the emissaries of billionaires,’ that dominated the deliberations and practically dictated the terms of the final document.
The close to 100 heads of state that showed up had pretty much the same relative influence, and considerably less communality of goals. But was one notable absence that could not be explained what may have undermined the whole conference.
The former candidate for hope, and now just another embattled president seeking reelection, President Obama chose to go to Mexico to pose for pictures along the Group of 20 finance ministers, and sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Copacabana.
In one swift move, he’s shown how far his priorities shifted from four years ago, when much of his platform was based upon an environmental and peaceful agenda, committed to preventing corporations and defense contractors from swaying government policy.
It was as disappointing as it may have been a black eye for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff too, who’s been put on the defensive about her spotty environmental record. Brazilian activists are still heeling from her apparent lack of leadership on the issue of the country’s new Forest Code.
And more: the failure of the meeting to highlight Brazil’s seriousness about its green policies may also add up to an already growing perception that the country may not be up to the continuous spotlight as a potential world power.
Charges of corruption and an apparent inability to implement infrastructural reforms are already undermining the country’s image as capable of handling the two major global events it will be hosting in the next four years, the World Cup and the Olympic Games.
Fortunately, there are many who think that a radical approach to the serious problems of climate change and income distribution, which seemed to have gotten worse in the past two decades, won’t depend of such mega event as the Rio+20.
In the end, it may be the coordinated efforts of a myriad of organizations, involving all segments of the world’s societies, not just the politicians, well-heeled private initiatives and jet-setters, that may achieve results, one goal at a time.
Or, in the case of Colltales, with one post at a time. This is the 900th piece in slightly over two years of existence. So, if nothing else, the meeting in Rio served some purpose, at least for this site. Have a great week. WC

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One thought on “Curtain Raiser

  1. I think the United Nations is becoming less consequential with each passing year.

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