Rio+20: What are the parameters of success? | Nils Boesen

15 Jun 2012

Men building a house in Haiti Community mobilization and participatory approach in Haiti involves people in building their homes, neighborhoods and cities in accordance with their expectations and needs. Photo: UNDP Haiti

We are in the midst of a tectonic shift - from the post-World War 2 order to a new, very different order where new powers arise.

But not only, as so often depicted, through the rise of new nations and economies. Important as they are, there is more to it than the welcome arrival of the “BRICS” –the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, seen as the leading emerging economies.

The broader tectonic shift is the move away from nation states being the dominant players to a much more diverse, complex - and exciting - multi-faceted set of players influencing (as opposed to single-handedly governing) the directions of change.

Think civil society linking up and using social media.

Think global corporations doing the same, and developing new corporate social responsibility approaches far beyond cosmetics.

Think universities and think-tanks actively fostering innovations - be they social, technological, or managerial.

And, not least, think cities (and maybe, even city-states, as competitors/alternatives/supplements to nation-states) with their amazing mass of energy, power and resources, and how they address sustainable development challenges - nearly by default across the strands of the social, economic, environmental and the technological.

Little wonder that with such a mass of actors, interests and energies, it is proving challenging for government leaders to end up with  a short, sharp, actionable outcome document from the Rio+20 conference.

But the future we want is the future we create, across the myriad of stakeholders that act - too often alone, too often isolated, too often in silos.  Rio+20 is precisely bringing us together across strands and constituencies. The outcome document will not stop us from doing that, nor will it by itself ensure it will happen.

The success criteria for Rio+20 is not just the outcome document, important as it is. It is the ideas, inspirations, contacts and concrete follow up commitments that we have made, or will be making, over the next week and beyond.

Talk to us: What would make Rio+20 a success?

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