Monday, June 25, 2012

Rio +20..........disgraceful or inevitable?

As yet I haven't read one report that has had good comments to make on the Rio Conference last week. I'm not going to repeat the succession of clich├ęs that have been used to describe the disappointing outcome. In summary it was a lost opportunity, a disappointment and, in many senses, a disgrace!  It might seem the only sectors which benefited from this 50,000 strong international gathering of politicians, advisers, lobby groups and journalists were the hotel industry and the airlines. In my opinion there should be a greater sense of responsibility and accountability for those centrally involved with the process and a greater intention to arrive at meaningful conclusions than they've demonstrated they've been capable of on this occasion.  But have we now reached a stage where gaining agreement from so many participants is an impossibility?  If we can raise such fears, is it not likely the participants have arrived at the same conclusion? In which case, should there not have been some appraisal of what might be the best way forward?. Without it I fear future gatherings will suffer from precisely the same weaknesses.

It seems the focus of the process has now begun to concentrate on sustained development, as opposed to sustainability. The appeal of the almighty dollar has proved too great to resist! Who would have guessed ? The process holds such promise as a concept, but now stands in danger of  being drastically diluted with each meeting. Rather than being an opportunity to uphold the diversity and role of our global natural heritage, the occasion might now be seen as one where its resources are viewed in terms of their exploitable benefit. The trite remarks made that some communities will benefit from such initiatives show where the real sentiments lie and point to a woeful absence of commitment to our global environment in its own right. I suspect some of those communities are worrying about the potential outcomes, as opposed to the benefits, and I just wonder who might  the national agencies be who undertake the work eventually. I'm afraid I feel that the occasion proved to be little more than an auction of opportunity in many senses.

I don't believe anyone has gained benefit from these proceedings. Neither do I believe those despatched, the politicians, are the best selected or qualified to take the final decisions in a process so acutely tied to our joint futures. As an example I'd simply cite the fact that , as far as I can establish, our Prime Minister ( had he been there even) has never made a speech on the environment. He's posed with Huskies and ridden a bicycle down a London street, critical stuff on the stage of international decision making on environmental matters one might say. As for George Osborne,our Chancellor, presumably he's a convert to the whole process?  Damage environmental protection as far as you can by doing nothing other than repeat unfulfilled commitments made years ago and hold open the door to extended resource usage. With so little attention provided to our UK environment by the current Coalition , representing the Greenest Government ever remember (!),  it's hardly surprising that one feels sceptical. It'll be interesting to hear Nick Clegg's report to the House on his attendance ( surely there'll be one? ) and the proposals which it is felt are beneficial for us to pursue here in the UK, robustly supported by the Chancellor one imagines.

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