A Mother’s Perspective: Earth Summit Outcome, Rio+20
By: Harriet Shugarman, Climate Mama
The “world came together” in Rio De Janerio, June 20-23 with the stated goals of: securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development; assessing progress towards internationally agreed goals on sustainable development and addressing new and emerging challenges. But what does that mean to you? My understanding is that these goals weren’t actually met – do we need to be concerned?
The outcome document from the Summit is titled “The Future We Want.” Two specific themes: a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development were the focus of discussion.
The initial reactions on the outcome of the 2012 Rio conference have been mixed at best but mostly negative, as there were no real hard and fast commitments made by governments.
But, as a “glass half full” kind of gal, what is my take way from Rio, and hope for our future and that of our children’s? It rests on us and our acknowledgement that collectively, those of us who recognize and accept the fact that we are living in a time of climate disruption will make changes in our lives and encourage our neighbors and colleagues and elected government officials to do the same.
It is up to us – parents concerned about their kids, business owners concerned about supply chains and rising costs, faith based groups concerned about repairing the world that was created by a higher being, and young people concerned about a future they don’t want to accept – to come together to accept that the future isn’t set and we CAN get off the catastrophic path we are currently on and truly help shape "the future WE want."
There were over 30,000 people who came together in Rio and tens of thousands of others who were there virtually through social media. A small fraction of these people were actually government representatives. Most people were from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, and the private sector.
Everyone was making commitments and connections across borders. They are all committed to make change and realize the time to act is now. Participants left the conference and returned to their home countries and communities and with the help of traditional networks and social media networks, they will help mothers and fathers from New York City to New Delhi, connect the dots and realize a plan for each of us, our families and our communities.
Twenty years ago, when I was attending United Nations global conferences around the world, there were no smart phones, blogs, or social media tools. We couldn’t easily connect or share information. The world has changed, and we have changed with it. Twenty years ago NGOs and business groups were just beginning to clamor to attend international conferences, beginning to hold their own summits, and to make a few statements at the government’s table.
I see that the “tables are turning” and soon it will be governments who will be clamoring to be at our tables. Our planet is demanding it. Our outcomes may be “messy” and not tied up in a neat, negotiated 100% agreed upon outcome document. Mother Earth is showing us that time isn’t on our side to dot all our "i's" and cross all our "t's". Parents around the world are poised to spring into action.
Harriet Shugarman is the Executive Director of ClimateMama.com and a District Manager for The Climate Reality Project. Harriet lives in the New York City Metro area with her husband Andrew and two "almost" teenagers. This post is an excerpt from an essay that appears in full here.
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