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Over the summer, while most of us were reveling in the fact exams were over, sunning ourselves overseas and taking full advantage of a fully stocked fridge at home, 190 of the most influential people in the world were travelling to Brazil for the United Nations Rio +20 Earth Summit.
Twenty years after the first earth summit, hopes were diminishing of there ever being an answer to our planets sustainable development needs and as the media and environmental groups looked on, there was scheduled to be some heated conflicts.
While Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel were not present, Brazil and the other BRIC nations took the lead at the beginning of the ten day mega summit. Whilst Hillary Clinton dodged any notion of the US taking governmental action, global youth representative, Brittany Trilford, nobly stated what many were thinking in that there didn’t seem much ambition and confidence in the delegates. The next nine days passed similarly and protests in the streets of Brazil continued.
The romanticized conclusion of the summit, in the form of the contradictorily named report ‘The Future We Want’, was heavily criticised for lacking direction and commitment. However these views were strongly defended, in particular by Ban Ki Moon, the UN secretary general, who was optimistic about the summit and said the report was the guide to a sustainable future and a reaffirmation of the previous action plan, Agenda 21, which has had strong backing in many countries since it was implemented at the 1992 UN conference.
The combination of weak leadership, postponed decisions and a perception of more important business elsewhere has unfortunately led many to the supposition that the summit and follow up report was, yet again, a waste of time, money and energy.
By Jessica Brand
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham