(Written on Saturday)
If you've seen the film by the same name, then you’ll know it’s about the catastrophic consequences of climate change, and they're depicted as spectacularly and fatally catastrophic. As I write this, at 31000 feet over the Atlantic, the day after tomorrow for me is Monday - the first business day after Rio+20 ended. This is the day when world leaders will get back to their day jobs of running countries,
They will be faced with a deluge of challenges, many of which will be decisions where they balance what needs to be done with what will be popular, will be supported, will keep them in office. I don’t envy them. It can’t be easy.
In the UK, the press so far have largely reported Rio+20 as a failure. From what I have read, there are few voices that beg to differ. Stanley Johnson (yes father of Boris - you’d never guess from the blond hair!) asleep in the seat in front of me, is one. He opines that Rio+20 was remarkable....because it wasn’t remarkable.
Why? Because no governments walked out. Nothing good was undone or curtailed. A text was agreed. Everyone said yes. Many good things were supported. The future we already had, as some describe it, was not derailed, even if it isn’t the one we all aspire to.
The Brazilians, the hosts, played a blinder. After 2 years of mind-numbing negotiations, they effectively said "S*% it. If you lot can’t agree, we’ll draft something that avoids almost all your bracketed text (the bits they couldn’t agree on), and you WILL agree, or there won’t be an agreement at all."
The gamble worked.
So as the day after tomorrow draws nearer, is the world a more sustainable place? Before answering that question, I’d like to make two more observations about Rio+20. First, it engaged civil society in a way that has never been done before. The thousands of people at the People's Summit held in downtown Rio, the dialogue days (weeks of internet based collection of many thousands of views), the major groups registering over 10,000 non-government attendees - that’s 10,000 advocates for change from that sector alone.
Second, business engagement was at unprecedented levels. Yes, you’re right, it was only the good guys, the minority among the sector, who came, but what was fascinating was that they were leading governments, not the other way round. Progressive business gets it. They need a sustainable future to survive.
So, at the risk of swimming against the condemnatory tide, as dawn breaks on Monday morning, there are a very large number of people around the globe in many walks of life who are more fired up than ever to make a difference. My guess is that Monday morning will be different, because a lot of people want it to be different. Just one example - global climate change is a real prospect and even without Hollywood melodrama it ain’t pretty.
So, what about you? Starting on Monday, will you do something, however small or simple, to step up for nature?