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Report from Rio de Janiero, the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development

Sitting in one more conference room in this beautiful city at the Rio+20 'Earth Summit', the energy of the people gathered here inspires. Despite the heavy clouds over the sea, the sleepless nights of negotiations and preparations, and the quickly evident feeling that absolutely nothing has been accomplished here by the world's nations gathering, it is the small acts and declarations that make this meeting not completely hopeless. Art Dialogue's own small attempts as one of the 1000 NGO's participating in this international encounter to make a difference, adds to those small fractions that can still possibly create a whole, imagining that the work done here this week will indeed have purpose.

Yesterday's Roundtable discussion with the Secretary General of the United Nations, General Ban Ki-moon, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Ted Turner, Brazilian activist Marina Silva, Muhammad Yunus, (Founder of the Grameen Bank and Nobel Loreaute), and others,  moderated by Fabian Cousteau, (grandson of the famous ocean explorer and a strong ocean advocate himself) summed up the new roads we must travel to make the planet a viable habitat for the 7 billion people now inhabiting it.  It's was a forum for young activists to meet the UN's top leaders, who are called on to carry on the torch for the next 20 years, a theme that's been echoed throughout the conference. In other words "what next?".

Professor Sachs set the room on fire with his passionate call to the next generation, advising them to avoid the pitfalls of legaleeze and regulations, crying out for out-of-the-box solutions and alternatives to solve the challenges confronting us on climate change, dying oceans, economic and environmental insecurity across the planet. It's the first time I've heard the word "imagination" used here.

 'The good news is that almost no progress was made for 20 years… you have this great chance: it's all for you (youth). The truth is 20 years ago in this sight 3 wonderful treaties were signed; they are farsighted, well written, etc. And not one of them has been implemented. Our governments are locked into old thinking, old processes, to very powerful vested interests and to a short term election cycle. These goals do not fit any of those. The challenges of climate change, require imagination, a perspective and a new way of doing things that will not come from a room of diplomats negotiating year in and year out. "

What has been reinforced over and over here in Rio is that the negotiating processes of governments has failed. Women's reproductive rights, education for all, light and water for every human being, an ocean clean and healthy, and other basic necessities to life are failing to get regulated and implemented by the men in suits. Civil society has been called on to step up to the plate and pitch in. We small on-the-ground organizations know how to make things work, how to create change, inspire, inform, connect, relate, and create a new paradigm.

It is an honor to be here and be a part of that. With our team members pouring into town each day, (all volunteering), as of last Thursday we are now all here: Leslie Moyer of 5Gyres spent the day with Jana Prekova combing the beaches of Rio to collect plastic pollution to start making the costumes for our today's Ipanema Beach Carnival walk. Jimena Villaseca got in from New York with her bags full of plastic-spoon-and-shoe fish costumes, amazed she made it through customs. June Gorman, (co-founder of the Transformative Education Forum) has been leading us to all the right panels and plenaries. And after our Safe Planet Film Night at Rio University with the fantastic help of Professor Joao Torres and Daniela Botaro at the BioPhysics Lab, I've been focusing on our beach event today.  We are meeting old friends at the conference and meeting new ones from around the globe, sharing ideas and event schedules. And if the documents are stalled in negotiations, while heads of state argue over the fine points of an already failed summit, and the corporate influence smokes it way into every pavilion, there are hundreds and thousands of activists on the ground talking and doing, creating activity and change as Professor Sachs was calling for.

Art Dialogue is proud to be a part of that.


2012-06-23 - 15:50:00  by barbara

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03.07.2012 - 11:04 - guest - Great job, all of you! Lise Wulff

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