“John Elkington had not imagined quite how badly the UN summit in Rio would fail, but, ever optimistic, he outlines his plans to turn things around…” (Source: The Guardian)
This is a bizarre article of one of my favorite sustainability experts. More than ten paragraphs of serious doom-and-gloom and then 2 paragraphs with empty optimism quotes but no facts. I suspect Elkington does not even believe his own optimism anymore.
"In a more rational world, political leaders might come together in a special forum to acknowledge the nature and severity of the crisis and to establish the institutional and procedural basis for a worldwide “Survival 2100” project." (Source: Solutions)
Author William Rees is the co-father of the ecological footprint. His absolute must-read "Project Survival 2100" article in Solutions is surely one of the best efforts to define the contours of a blueprint for the real sustainability revolution humanity needs. It is way more realistic than the superficial and unambitious gobbledegook of the Future we want Rio+20 final declaration.
“With a disappointing political outcome at Rio+20, the president of the WBCSD says the only option is for business to spring into action and implement change at scale…” (Source: Guardian Sustainable Business blog)
Yes, business could be not only part of the solution but the key to the solution if it can positively answer the following questions:
Can big business embrace limits to growth, admit that sustainability is not only about more opportunities but also about putting in place constraints and sufficiency, develop a business model beyond short-term profit, work for society instead of shareholders, empower leaders who advocate social and wage equality, adopt a no-lobby code, convince the fossil-fuel sector that the age of oil and gas has to end asap, order the financial sector to downsize and serve the real economy, help SMEs to go sustainable?
How realistic is it that we will see business have the courage to re-invent itself?
"Some large economies show significantly lower growth when natural assets such as forests and water are factored into growth indicators, an index showed on Sunday, a few days before an international sustainability summit starts in Rio de Janeiro." (Source: Reuters)
Interesting new report from two of the UN’s environmental institutions shows that the Beyond GDP debate needs more and faster progress.
“Inaction in Rio would be disastrous, but a single international agreement would be a grave mistake. We cannot rely on singular global policies to solve the problem of managing our common resources: the oceans, atmosphere, forests, waterways, and rich diversity of life that combine to create the right conditions for life, including seven billion humans, to thrive.” (Source: Project Syndicate)
The death of economics Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom a few days before the Rio+20 conference, is symbolic. Just like she lost the fight against cancer, humanity is losing the battle for a healthy planet. Her work on the commons should have been the starting point for the Rio conference. See for instance “Commons at Rio+20: Reinventing the world”
“Humanity’s path is anything but sustainable, the UN Environment Programme warns, as scientists suggest life may be heading for irreversible change.” (Source: BBC News)
In the run-up to Rio+20 the UN has presented its 5th Global Environmental Outlook. Its analysis is gloomy and correct, its solutions disappointing because it does not have the courage to tackle the real planet-killers: casino capitalism, resource scarcity, growing inequalities and runaway population growth.
Read the full GEO-5 report and background documents.
“The report argues that the impact of a transition towards a greener economy on labour markets will extend far beyond the creation of new green jobs, such as those related to renewable energy. This transition will create new opportunities for workers, but also new risks. The challenge for labour market and skill policies is to maximise the benefits for workers and help assure a fair sharing of adjustment costs, while also supporting broader green growth policies (e.g. by minimising skill bottlenecks).” (Source: OECD)
This good OECD report presented on 4 June also looks at the need to re-allocate workers from declining brown industries to growing green ones and demands serious reforms of the tax and benefit systems for workers.
Last week the ILO and UNEP presented a similar report called “Working towards sustainable development. Opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy”. That report sees a potential of between 15m and 60m additional jobs if the world would shift rapidly to a low-carbon future.
“Growth. It’s not about plant growth, hair growth or growth in quality of life, it’s about economic growth. And the kind that is measured in GDP. However, Rio+20 might mark a paradigm shift in the way we measure growth and wealth.”
This article on Rio+20 in the Huffington Post demonstrates clearly how difficult it is to end our obsession with "growth" as the number one political priority. "Intelligent" growth, a "paradigm shift in the way we measure growth and wealth"… do all these phrases really put us on track for a new destination or do we just blind ourselves with nice rhetoric?
“Voluntary initiatives are not enough: a global agreement on reporting is needed to make ambitions on sustainability a reality…” (Source: the Guardian Sustainable Business blog)
I have started to become quite skeptical on this issue. As long as the power of the financial sector over government is not broken, even better and mandatory sustainability reporting alone will not help.
“A new report from the WBCSD sets out the steps needed to accelerate the pace of change in addressing social, ecological and economic challenges…” (Source: the Guardian)
Interesting new report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development building on its 2010 Vision 2050 report. Vision is one element, changing pace of the transformation another but both will need courage of the leading businesses to name and shame the business laggards and saboteurs (the fossil fuel sector and the financial sector being a few of the worst).