The Rio+20 Earth Summit continues today in Brazil, but hope is fading that anything meaningful will come out of the official proceedings.
A new negotiated text entitled “The Future We Want” has been adopted for all intents and purposes by participating governments. This document outlines a vast environmental vision for the future but it lacks the teeth needed to commit governments and corporations to take action. Instead, the negotiated text is peppered with phrases urging nations to commit to this and that but there is nothing that binds any nation to cut greenhouse gas emissions, to protect public water, oceans and forests, to take steps to ensure food security or to do anything concrete to curb environmental destruction on a global scale.
The conference, quite simply, has not proposed actions for a new way of living on the planet that respects nature rather than recklessly turns our water, air, oceans, forests and all resources into commodities to be exploited for profit.
Despite one more day of the Summit remaining, most nations are declaring the negotiations closed. However, if there is any ray of hope it stems from an expected Declaration from the People’s Summit running at the same time in Rio. This Declaration will aim to counter the weakness implicit in the official “The Future We Want” text and give hope to citizens that real actions are possible.
What’s clear is that these enormous environmental summits continue to underwhelm and under deliver because they do not go beyond vague promises and pledges that allow polluters to do as they please. Real action that is bound by legal language is what the planet desperately needs.