To Understand Rio+20, Put on Your 3D Glasses
Think of Rio+20 as cinema. In its simplest black and white, small screen format, it was unsatisfying. Government negotiators failed to reach any agreements of note. But, in color, on the large screen, with your 3D glasses on, it was much more. Creative leaders, impatient with the formal process, from businesses, individual governments, NGOs, communities, and people's movements banded together at Rio in thousands of ways to catalyze action outside the multilateral process.
Some of their committed actions are clearly meaningful. Here a few of my favorites:
- Eight development banks committed to grant and lend $175 billion for sustainable low carbon transportation by 2020;
- Large corporations, including Unilever, Tesco, and J&J, as part of an innovative business alliance, called the Consumer Goods Forum, committed to end deforestation in their beef, soy, paper, and palm oil supply chains by 2020;
- The United Arab Emirates committed $350 million to the newly established International Renewable Energy Agency for a finance facility that IRENA will use to develop renewable energy projects;
- Microsoft committed to making all of its business operations carbon neutral by 2013; Cities inside Mayor Bloomberg's C40 have committed to a gigaton of carbon emission reductions;
- These cities also committed to establishing a monitoring mechanism and publishing an annual report card;
- A group headed by Richard Branson called the Carbon War Room committed to helping Aruba wean itself from fossil fuels by 2020;
- Norway committed to spend $140 million over five years in Ethiopia and Kenya to finance clean energy development;
- The UK will now mandate GHG emissions reporting by the 1800 largest companies on the London stock exchange; and
- Philips will increase the energy efficiency of its electric products by 50 percent by 2015.
There were also commitments to create huge marine sanctuaries in Australia and the Maldives, agreements to deliver clean cook stoves and solar lanterns for millions of people in Africa and Asia, compacts by businesses to manage water resources, and promises by business schools to teach sustainability.