Rio+20 - Fear and Hope
As the negotiations continue at both Rio+20 and the G-20 Summit I'm seeing reports of both hope and fear. The hope seems to be coming from the non-government and business sectors and the fear from the government diplomats and delegates. At Rio there is little progress other than watering down the provisions of the outcomes document so that there will be greater agreement. I've been following the international press's take on Rio and last night I noticed that there was typically a new story being posted from around the world every 15 minutes. Unfortunately many of the stories confirm my fears that the Rio+20 is turning into a backtracking on key issues that were addressed 20 years ago and the US is leading the backtracking. Nonetheless there is hope that the various discussions here will lead to commitments to do more to advance sustainable development.
Yesterday was the higher education sustainability associations' side event. Below is Kim Smith's report from the presentation:
"Do you remember the lovely young girl who blew all of the delegates away in 1992? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsDliXzyAY Well, Severn Suzuki is all grown up and is still doing amazing work. I didn't actually realize it was her when she was speaking on a panel about climate change today until everyone started taking pictures of her at the end. She is still as articulate, as ever, but poignantly stated that she is ashamed of her country, Canada. At least I got a chance to give her my card with AASHE's website on it and a flyer for our presentation.
She didn't come to our higher education presentation but plenty of others did. Over 60 people came to our session, even though it was from 7:30 to 9:00. http://www.uncsd2012.org/index.phppage=view&nr=1224&type=230&menu=38 We were able to share many examples of all of the good work being done by colleges all over the world. Alas, some rather dry presentations put a damper on the enthusiasm in the room, but the Higher Education Treaty appeared to be received well and many people asked some deep questions about the role of the UN, how to change values, how to address equity issues, government support, and the role of developing countries.
A rather maddening experience for all involved was the last-minute shuffling of the Side Event locations. Given the unresolved negotiations, the delegates basically commandeered the pavilion in which we were supposed to present and the poor Summit organizers had to rearrange all of the rooms. This required some scrambling on our part and has created a lot of frustrated people, but, again, 60 people found us and shared in our commitment to supporting higher education in sustainable development.
We'll see what tomorrow brings. I am particularly looking forward to attending the launch of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative and then going to Vandana Shiva's talk called "Women Leading the Way: Mobiliizing for an Equitable, Resilient and Thriving Future" http://www.uncsd2012.org/index.php?page=view&type=1000&nr=614&menu=126
We will continue to cross our fingers that some big decisions will be made in Rio to create a clear global vision for a sustainable future."
A handout was provided to delegates attending the side event and will continue to be distributed throughout the conference.
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