Rio+20 – the verdict

So shockingly enough, as I (and many others) predicted, the much vaunted Rio+20 conference has resulted in… not much. What is interesting though, is the statements being made by some of the leaders of the big NGOs.

Here’s a couple of quotes from the article in the Guardian:

“sophisticated UN diplomacy has given us nothing more than more poverty, more conflict and more environmental destruction” – Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for conservation at WWF

“Sustainable development will have to happen without the blessing of world leaders. Governments will need to play catch-up” – Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for conservation at WWF

“Civil society has to take action. They must do what they do.” – Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam GB

“…the important thing is to see Rio as a catalyst for people around the world. Now it’s our turn to take the energy of people and convert that into action.” – Peter Lehner, executive director of the National Resources Defence Council

The idea that it should be civil society – the people, essentially – that have to do this, is one that we at Simpol have been doing our best to spread for ages now. Could it be that the big NGOs are finally starting to pick up on this?

Will they translate that realisation into the kind of action necessary – into simultaneous policy?

Watch this space I guess!

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2 thoughts on “Rio+20 – the verdict

  1. Bang on, Mark! The key thing NGOs don’t understand is that governments simply aren’t in a position to do ANYTHING that will significantly harm their national economic competitiveness. And implementing most NGO demands WOULD have exactly that effect. So to tramp off to Rio in the expectation that governments will implement NGO demands is, well, rather naive. How long is this ridiculous charade going to continue before NGOs realise that a change of strategy – a change of THINKING – is required?

    Overcoming the ‘competitiveness’ obstacle requires a framework or strategy that comprises three key attributes:

    1. That desirable policies be implemented SIMULTANEOUSLY by all or virtually all nations. In that way, the first-mover competitive disadvantage dilemma is resolved;
    2. The bundling of two or more complementary policies so that what a nation may lose on one policy, it can gain on another. For example, nations that may lose out from a CO2 emissions reduction policy could be compensated by funds raised from a Tobin Tax which could be implemented (i.e. bundled) together with the climate policy;
    3. A way for citizens to use their votes in their national elections to make it in the political survival interests of their politicians and governments to implement the desired policies.

    Simpol, as far as I know, is the only campaign that incorporates all of those attributes. It’s a strategy NGOs and the public at large who want to see real change would benefit from if they could release themselves from the idea that politicians, if only we lobby them hard enough, can deliver us from catastrophe. Rather, we citizens need to get into the cockpit by using Simpol to DRIVE our politicians to do what’s necessary in a way that is in their interests. That is, when the people lead, the leaders will follow!

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