Today’s blog comes in two halves… First up, what did we get up to yesterday?
As the temperature of the Brazilian winter soared to 28°C (apologies if you’re reading this in the UK where I understand the British summer is a bit lacklustre), Team Progressio journeyed to the other side of town to experience something of ‘The People’s Summit’.
‘Cúpla dos Povos’ is a global gathering of civil society demanding action on the multiple environmental and development challenges facing the world today.
Unlike RioCentro, the space and events are open to everyone and anyone.
Stunningly situated around Guanabara Bay, the People’s Summit demonstrates something of the diversity, creativity, ingenuity and energy lacking from RioCentro and the ongoing negotiations.
We walked between seminars, tents, stalls and art pieces, all calling for a more just, equal and fair world. Attendees are eager for change. All are united by a desire to see a world in which the environment is respected and people are able to thrive, not merely survive.
One French journalist stopped us to ask what impact we thought the People’s Summit could have on the formal negotiations integral to Rio+20 – a very good question.
I’m disappointed to say that I don’t think that the activity will have any influence on the direction or speed of the negotiations.
Whilst many of our fellow NGO colleagues will visit the site for a day or two (which I thoroughly encourage them to do), it is very unlikely that any of the delegates or heads of state will make the 2 to 3 hour journey to experience the enthusiasm and vivacity of the People’s Summit. Indeed, while we were there, helicopters were busy transporting dignitaries over our heads in the direction of RioCentro.
But the People’s Summit does have a very important role to play. It’s an invaluable opportunity for people from all walks of life to connect, to share ideas and to revive one another’s passion for a greener, more sustainable more fair way of living.
Naturally, it’s dominated by civil society from Latin America, but we did meet people from every continent. It’s a summit that offers everyone the chance to participate and get involved.
And it’s a summit that offers solutions. We were offered pancakes cooked on solar powered stoves. People there aren’t waiting for an outcome document; they’re getting on with it.
Local Agenda 21 (agreed at the original Earth Summit in 1992) promoted local participation. It was great to see this in action.
We ended our day at an exhibition full of bright ideas of the future people want to see. Whether or not the Rio+20 conference secures the greener, fairer world for our own and future generations that is so desperately needed, it was a welcome boost to be reminded of the part that the average citizen can play in achieving a more sustainable future for all.
It doesn’t always take heads of states to see change on the ground. To use those immortal words, you and I can ‘be the change we want to see in the world’.
With that in mind, Team Progressio returns to RioCentro and the negotiations.