A Cold Launch for the Official Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development

Because the most important message in Rio 92 came from a young girl, a message that is still circulating the web for its passion and clarity, this year the conference that marks the 20th anniversary of that event sought to repeat the experience and the opening remarks were handed to Brittany Trilford, a 17 year old from New Zealand who won a contest called Date with History.

Except of course moments like the one created by Severn Suzuki are not something you can replicate, and so Trilford speech felt weak, cold.

“You and your governments have promised to reduce poverty and sustain our environment. You have already promised to combat climate change, to insure clean water and food security. Multinational corporations have already pledged to respect the environment, green their production, compensate for their pollution. These promises have been made and yet still, our future is in danger,” she said.

Indeed, all the promises have been made and they have not been fulfilled and everyone has already condemned the lack of fulfillment of these promises and new promises have been made and yet here we are.

It brings me back to a heartbreaking book a well-respected journalist from Argentina wrote: El medio ambiente no le importa a nadie (Nobody cares about the environment). A few months after reading that book I remember interviewing him saying I thought things were changing. That was in 2009. After watching COP15, COP16 and COP17 pass by, and in the midst of participating in this meeting, I´m not sure anymore.

A video about the state of the planet was played. It was pretty much everything Al Gore said in 2004 on the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

Secretary Ban Ki Moon spoke: “Progress has been too slow, but we have a new opportunity, the world is watching. Rio is not the end, it is the beginning.” Brazil´s president Dilma Roussef: “I have no doubt we´ll be up to the challenge.”

It all felt so tiring.

What felt somewhat more interesting was a fact released by Moon at a press conference later: there are, supposedly, 200 commitments the countries participating on the conference are taking. More information about that will be released by the end of the event. The figure pales next to the C40 group´s 5,000 actions announced yesterday, but of course the scope of actions and commitments might be quite different.

As a participant at Rio+20, I feel what has been more interesting about this conference is everything outside of it: small scale farming initiatives at the Arena Socioambiental, the People´s Summit, the C40 summit, even the culture.

At least some celebrities are arriving to make some noise.

I´m in Rio until June 23. If you have any leads or want to point us in the direction of an interesting event, please e-mail paula@treehugger.com or tweet me at @paualvarado.

Follow all Rio+20 coverage here.

A Cold Launch for the Official Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development
After opening remarks that felt tiring, secretary Ban Ki Moon announced 200 commitments will be taken by countries.

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