#RioPlus20: Great expectations?

Pameran Seni di sela-sela KTT Pembangunan Berkelanjutan di Rio de Janiero (Foto: Setya Darmadja)

This is the first of many dispatches from Rio+20

What are our expectations for Rio+20? A revolutionary change in the global economic regime; a reaffirmation of the status quo with an extra green economy dimension; or just a gathering featuring an endless stream of heated discussions?

Thousands of people are expected to attend the summit, and most will have begun their preparations at least a year in advance.

Ultimately, participants hope their concerns and interests will be reflected in the final Rio+20 outcome document, ‘The Future We Want’.

ACT Alliance’s preparations have included submitting an ecumenical position paper; facilitating members’ engagement with country-level negotiations; providing updates and analysis on the negotiations; launching a dedicated Rio+20 web portal; supporting ACT members’ accreditation for Rio+20; and collaborating on ecumenical and inter-faith activities at the summit.

Meanwhile, heads of state, UN bodies, NGOs, private sector groups and civil society organisations (CSOs) have also spent many months preparing for this potentially historic event. They each have their own interests, concerns and demands. The question is, can the outcome document meet all their expectations? Will they get the future they want?

I would suggest not. Having conducted a key-word analysis of the latest outcome document draft, I found that the major terms advocated by CSOs had been accommodated, but from the perspective of the current growth agenda: there appeared to be no paradigm shift. So when it comes to expectations, some might say it pays to be pessimistic.

However, from a faith-based perspective, ACT Alliance should think positively, strengthen its advocacy on sustainable development and use this momentum to build awareness among its members – so that we can unite in its vision for a world where poverty ends and growth is equitable, sustainable and ecologically sound.

I am just one of the many thousands of people with many hopes and prayers for Rio+20. Having arrived in Rio de Janeiro a little early, I was impressed and inspired by a 120-photograph outdoor exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, set outside the city’s Teatro Municipal. Each large photo displays the beauty of the planet and the danger of its destruction. In his commentary, Arthus-Bertrand recalls: “I saw the earth change over the 20 years I spent photographing it … [it was] truly frightening.“

Perhaps this exhibition will inspire delegates to reach a consensus for the outcome document and, more importantly, develop a genuine action plan towards sustainable development.


**Sigit Wijayanta from Rio de Janiero

Source: ACT Alliance