I hope they do better than present or earlier generations

by Mei Wang, Director, Planetary Boundaries Initiative

“I hope they do better than present or earlier generations” was the message from Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway to the children and youth of today at the Future We Choose Rio +20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro.

It was an indictment of how badly humanity has let itself down in the environment stakes with the author of the Brundtland Report expressing such pessimism about progress even with the scientific and some might argue, environmentally moral, knowledge we have today.

The number of side events at the Rio +20 UNCSD Conference was staggering and the general message was clear – that not enough was being done and we need to do better. In a panel discussion on Humanity & Environment – Our World’s Resources at the Rio Centro Conference Centre, the focus of the discussion very quickly went to the need to speak both a common language for the environment, something which could transcend all language and cultures and help the global population as it struggles with the environmental challenges in our ever changing world.

“How we involve communities at grassroots level is important”, says Deborah Tripley, Director of Planetary Boundaries Initiative. “We need to educate and capacity build within communities… a visioning exercise could be undertaken to plan and map for the future. The base fundamentals should be for governments to be required to build capacity so that their communities can participate. Also, not all governments are signed up to the Aarhus Convention which is a good start as a base.”

As world leaders continue to arrive in Rio de Janeiro for the dialogue discussion on the final draft, NGOs make the final push for amendments to the Outcome draft to reincorporate planetary boundaries and carrying capacity into the text. May the leaders of today heed Brundtland’s words and show the way for the leaders of tomorrow.

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