Rio plus peoplePosted by solitaire in blog May 9, 2012
No one in their right mind wants to attend an international summit. Most people don’t get to anyway.
They are dull, long-winded and appallingly obtuse plus the coffee usually stinks. They are for governments, lobbyists, hangers on (like me) and increasingly protesters. This is ok, because any normal person would rather gnaw their own leg off than have to sit through a 5 hour debate about one paragraph in a 200 page document.
But just because the ‘sherpas and sous-sherpas’ (yep, that is what negotiators are dubbed) are weird, doesn’t mean they should forget the rest of us. Rio+20 is the huge Earth Summit happening in Brazil in June. Everything from water to poverty, biodiversity to land rights will be debated. New, smarter measures of GDP will be proposed and a set of Sustainable Development Goals will be mapped out. Leonardo Dicaprio might even turn up.
There is a big gaping hole at the heart of the whole thing. Right now the draft agreement doesn’t mention communication, engagement, mobilisation or behaviour change at all. Basically assuming governments can fix energy, consumption, waste and much more without the rest of us 7 billion people.
This morning I went to a breakfast meeting with Nick Clegg (UK Deputy Prime Minister), Caroline Spelman (Secretary of State for Environment) and Andrew Mitchell (Secretary of State for International Development); our UK delegation to Rio. Our small group of charities, businesses and hanger on (yep, me) were asked
“Given where we are now in preparations for the conference, what is your vision of success for Rio+20?”
This was my answer (we had a chance to submit a written comment):
Rio+20 must accept the pivotal role of mass communications, public engagement, and behaviour change in achieving sustainable development. The UK is perfectly placed to lead this call because:
1. The UK is a globally-recognised hub for the creative industries and communications
2. UK businesses, led by Unilever, B&Q and others, have already set the ‘consumer behaviour change’ standard
3. We have the best research, guidance and experts on public engagement for sustainability.
Without mass public mobilisation, any Sustainable Development Goals are doomed to stagnation. From sustainable consumption to water efficiency, public enthusiasm is the gatekeeper to Rio+20’s ambitions.
Futerra recommends that public engagement and mobilisation for sustainability is explicitly included in the final Rio+20 communiqué.
In the 20 years since the first Earth Summit, social media and the internet have transformed our ability to reach people and generate change. We have the tools, but need the willpower to ignite sustainable lifestyles. The UK should share its sustainability communications expertise and support nations struggling to inspire their own people.
Sustainable development will be created by 7 billion people, or not at all.
I hope you like it. If you agree (or have a better idea) then tell Defra:
Email email@example.com with ‘Rio+20’ as the subject – feel free to include the wording above.
Write to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 17 Nobel House, Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.
leave a comment
May 10, 2012
Well put. The soundbite “public enthusiasm is the gatekeeper to Rio+20’s ambitions” is sound indeed!
May 28, 2012
I couldn’t agree more. Communication is the key. I hope you have “the willpower to ignite” the sherpas and sous-sherpas to make some real commitments!
June 27, 2012
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