The recent Rio+20 meeting of the leaders of the developed and developing world has already had somewhat of a divisive and muted response from the press and analysts. The 50-page text is still not completed by the time of this post, however, so the efforts of those involved cannot yet be properly assessed. The seemingly insurmountable problems of climate change, population growth and monetary inequalities are enough for one country to effectively deal with, much less all of the world’s nations. As was expected, the developed side of the coin – U.S., UK et al – managed to negotiate themselves out of firmly committing to climate objectives or providing a dollar amount to be given to the developing world for ‘going green.’
It’s not all watered-down bad news, however. This kind of round table forum always disappoints the experts, but it is easy to see the new level of seriousness of the negotiators. This gathering and the proposed global commitments, ranging from renewable energy targets, clean water and food for all and “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which aims to provide everyone on the planet with modern energy by 2030,” are acknowledging the need to implement serious, and in some cases radical changes in how we run our societies. This is good! The metaphor of the alcoholic first admitting he/she has a problem is applicable here.
What needs to happen for the future is a more concerted effort by the public to be involved with the policymakers – it’s easier than ever, with social media outlets – but it will also take more than painted faces and a few bongo players at the OWS rallies. Scientists can only deliver the empirical facts, politicians can and should only answer to us, the people. But, there is a palpable feeling that this new era of engagement will help to bring about the changes that many leaders are too slow to achieve.