Don’t Walk Away

Sitting in the food court at Rio Centro – the hub of Rio+20 – grabbing a quick bite to eat, taking some time to process my thoughts.

The last few days have been great. I must say a special thanks to the Planet Earth Institute for funding this trip for me – it has been an invaluable experience to be here and participate in the conference.

This morning I attended a YMCA event on empowering youth under the belief that no one has a greater vested interest in the future than the youth of today who actually have to live the tomorrows. Among others, they called for all nations to reconsider the MDGs in relation to poverty reduction; the international goal should not be simply to reduce poverty by 50% but to completely eradicate it.

They started their presentation with a video and soundtrack to the words of “We can’t back down. Don’t walk away” – words that will hopefully be the resounding echo in every nation post Rio+20.

The recurring themes I’ve noticed keep cropping up over the last few days have been the imminent and critical issue of climate change, the need to empower and educate women and the role of a green economy in sustainable development.

These are things the international community must remember are urgent issues, affecting people across the world right now – even as we, in Rio, debate them. They are not concepts nor are they issues that can wait for years to be addressed.

Concrete steps must be taken – and soon.

Today, there is still a world of suffering and injustice which prevents billions of people from living a dignified life; 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty; 1 billion are hungry; 900 million don’t have access to clean water. Climate change is on the rise, rainforests are being destroyed and profit is being prioritised over people all over the world.

“We can’t back down. Don’t walk away”

These issues need our attention; and paying attention will cost us. The world has come a long way in the twenty years since the world’s Heads of States first met in Rio. The ideals and goals set out two decades ago may not have all been met, but globalisation has ensured that the world’s problems have now become not only our leader’s problems but our problems.

We, the public, are now much more aware of a world that is unfit for human habitation. The internet – especially – has stripped away our shield of ignorance, so that although one may choose to ignore the problem “you can never again say that you did not know” (Wilberforce 1789).

Rio+20 is critical to the future of our world. Enough for all forever. If this is the future we want, the reality is that each one of us needs to step up and play our part. Their problem is our problem – and we can’t just simply walk away.

Claire Chisholm, BA Combined Honours

3 thoughts on “Don’t Walk Away

  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the blog posts from Rio; it sounds as if you’ve all been having a great time! I’m posting this under Claire’s entry, as it is the last one I’ve read, but I was hoping for comments from all three of you, if possible.

    I am just interested in what the feeling on the ground actually was, in Rio and what you viewed as the successes of the summit? Bearing in mind it is always good for people to get together and discuss these issues; I have read a lot of criticism – chastising the fact that it hasn’t achieved any concrete goals, just empty promises. I realise that James mentioned in a previous post, that he thought any progress was a success, so I was just wondering do you still maintain this optimism?

    Also Claire – you mentioned that concrete steps must be taken and soon. Do you think this is likely with the current proposal?

    Ed’s winning entry talked about the lack of Western leaders attending being a blessing. So, if the actual summit was a veil for the more important ‘people’s summit’ to take place – have any of you seen any major successes here?


  2. Hi martin,

    Sorry this reply has been a long time coming but I’ve been mega busy since I came back from Brazil… You asked about optimism. In the run up to the the conference, as I wrote at the time, I didn’t think that anything would be achieved so (by my crazy reverse logic) that made me optimistic because I thought anything achieved would be better than nothing. However, actually being there, seeing the conference come and go with so little progress was in the end disheartening. But I guess it just means we have to keep on trying, keep on pushing for what is right!


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