Expressing anger at the direction the Rio+20 summit is going and with the hope of pushing world leaders to increase their ambition, youth from around the world and NGOs like Bill McKibben's 350.org occupied Riocentro, the venue where the conference is taking place, and then symbolically walked out of the conference.
At the risk of sounding extremely skeptical, I will nonetheless say this: doesn't this, too, feel like the same thing that happens every single UN conference? There's a meeting, nothing happens, frustration builds up, demonstration occurs, for a moment it seems negotiators might listen, nothing happens, event ends until next year.
However, in this case, you could say that not the demonstration, but the walkout seemed encouraging.
McKibben wrote later that the chanting of "The future we don't want" represented not only the lack of action, but also the lack of desire to "sit through the U.N. process and pretend that it is getting somewhere."
"People seemed to feel mad — and ready to fight where it counts, out in the real world. Out where we need to change the political dynamic if international negotiations are ever going to matter," he said. Amen for that.
The lack of nerve of the conference was the reason I was not at Riocentro this afternoon. As I have been saying all week, everything interesting from this gathering happened outside of it: businesses, NGOs and civil society all showing they care about these issues more than the people that seems to represent us (but really don't).
It's a painful situation building pressure, and this happening today was the first release of that.