|Postscript: Albert Bates on Rio+20|
We were so actively involved, buzzing around between meetings from dawn until midnight, doing radio and TV interviews, and giving talks and open sessions at the Peoples' Summit, that we didn't have the time we would have liked to write a timely, more thoughtful report. That may yet come, but for now, our sense of the meeting was that, as usual, there was small incremental progress made and some very large setbacks. An end to fossil fuel and nuclear power subsidies was almost within grasp, and we could not have said that 20 years ago. But, fiddling while the planet burns is dead meme.
Sadly, when it comes to binding global treaties, the UN is the only game in town, apart from business vehicles like the G77 and the Pentagon, and if the UN, too, becomes a corporate capture, we truly are doomed. From what we witnessed in Rio, that is well underway. Hillary Clinton seems to be the lead cheerleader.
There will be another Climate Summit in December, with more negotiations on the Green Climate Fund (now also called the Green Power Fund) and interim meetings on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). While realism is creeping in with the steady collapse of ever more institutions, the negotiating process for climate, income equity, and food security seems glacial when compared to the daily loss of species, jobs, and freshwater resource, among other indicators.
If we are going to avert utter disaster, which grows steadily less likely, something needs to change, and quickly. We certainly saw nothing resembling change from world leaders assembled in Rio. The miasma is intact. Moreover, the impetus for making change has clearly shifted to the opinion leaders not in the press or blogosphere but in the streets.
The clearest and wisest voices heard in Rio were heard every hour in the Peoples' Summit, from the Occupy and related protest movements, from indigenous peoples, and from youth. Our own venue, the crowd-sourced Gaia Home in Cupula dos Povos, developed a steady and regular attendance of hundreds, with barely standing room at the edges of our large circus tent on the days we talked about ecovillages, transition towns, eCoolnomics (carbon-minus food, fuel and housing), education, networks and social equity. We flew in experts, authors and activists from six continents although some biked 1000 km to get there, or came by sail, and we'd all like to see more of that. By the final day of the conference, we were told we had become the main stage for the entire event, much to our surprise.
Read more from Albert Bates' reflections on Rio+20 via his blog, http://peaksurfer.blogspot.co.at/