The Future We Do Not Want

By Derek Osborn, President, Stakeholder Forum.

The text that has emerged from the first week of Rio+20 negotiations has become a monstrosity. The already inadequate Zero Draft has emerged festooned with bracketed amendments, whose general tendency is profoundly negative.

Everyone knows what needs to be done. The poorest families, communities and countries in the world need help to rise out of their poverty and gain decent lives and livelihoods. And the whole world needs to transform its patterns of production and consumption to stop pressing so dangerously against the natural planetary limits, overwhelming the carrying capacity of the planet and damaging the environments of the most vulnerable.

Most can see the value of interpreting this objective into concrete and specific sustainable development goals for all countries, with timetables that will both specify and operationalise the various constituent elements of the improvements needed for the poorest communities, while at the same time bearing down on the most damaging elements of excessive global consumption and production, diverting them to safer alternatives.

We know that the full resources of modern science and technology need to be directed towards helping to bring about this transformation and that we need to improve the way in which they interface with decision-making. We know that the vast energies and capacities of the corporate sector need to be redirected towards more sustainable production and that consumption patterns need to be refocused in more sustainable and less wasteful directions.

We know that this transformation requires determined political leadership at local, regional, national and international level. We know that implementation requires strategies, action plans, full use of green economy instruments, redirection of financial and investment flows, indicators, targets and milestones to monitor progress.

We know too that the transformation needs the full engagement, participation and commitment of major groups, civil society partners and the public at all levels. We need champions of sustainable development and future generations, and partnership structures active at all levels.

We know that we need strong and effective international institutions that are capable of monitoring overall progress, marshalling support where it is most needed to assist the transformation, and chiding and restraining those countries and other bodies whose unsustainable activities are most damaging to the planet as a whole, and especially, the most vulnerable.

But does this vision and determination emerge from the debates and amended text? It does not. We hear and see timidity, caution, suspicion, protection of vested interests, and even attempts to undermine and go backward on rights, actions and issues already agreed.

During meetings over the weekend, Major Groups have been shocked as they have taken stock of the failure of the negotiations so far to rise to the level of the challenges which the world faces, or even to the level of ambition with which the negotiations began. The Major Groups are urgently bracing themselves to restate what should be the true goals of the Rio process and to mark out very clearly the red lines of lowest denominator, beneath which it would be truly shameful for the negotiations to fall.

Citizens, the global Sustainable Development Revolution is in danger. We must rally to the barricades.


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One Response to The Future We Do Not Want

  1. A chance for full and effective discussion of critical science communication follows….

    Comments from one and all are invited. Please add your perspective to the conversation to be found at the link above.

    Thank you.

    Steve Salmony

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