With most people expecting efforts to improve the official outcome of Rio+20 not likely to succeed, civil society’s reaction has been palpable. Organizations offered harsh rebukes of government efforts. And in the official statement on behalf of NGOs to Heads of State and Government, Wael Hmaiden, the Executive Director of CAN International, requested a withdrawl of civil society support for the document:
You cannot have a document titled ‘the future we want’ without any mention of planetary boundaries, tipping points, or the Earth’s carrying capacity. The text as it stands is completely out of touch with reality. Just to be clear, NGOs here in Rio in no way endorse this document. Already more than 1,000 organisations and individuals have signed in only one day a petition called “The Future We Don’t Want” that completely refuses the current text. It does not in any way reflect our aspiration, and therefore we demand that the words “in full participation with civil society” are removed from the first paragraph.
Today, pessimism continued. Adapted images lie the Rio+20 logo with a giant #RioFAIL stamped over the top, and the ‘family picture’ showing all the high-level attendees with the quote “Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us…” popping up across Facebook and Twitter.
And as of Thursday afternoon, members of civil society gathered in the garden to beat the drum of their discontent even more loudly. They sat in the corridor between negotiating halls in an occupy-style sit-down protest – sharing their anger and calls for change with a people’s microphone. One speaker would yell out a single sentence at a time, and the whole group repeated their words so everyone could hear.
Later in the afternoon, the group decided that they couldn’t stay in the conference center and give legitimacy to an outcome that fell so far short of their demands. According to a press release issued by one of the NGO participants:
Hundreds of civil society members, civil society will stage a mass walkout of the conference . Pointing out the failure of Rio to meet its outcomes, civil society decided to show their rejection of the outcome by marching out.
Marchers symbolically turned in their badges as part of this rejection chanting “The Future W e Want Is Not Found Here!”
About the authorJoshua Wiese
Joshua Wiese is Adopt a Negotiator’s Project Director. He is based in San Francisco, where he spends most of his time thinking about how to use technology to make the world a better place.