Rio+20 has all but come to an end,
Our leaders have almost finished pretending, and the propaganda reel has run through so many buzzwords
It’s badly in need of a buzzword transfusion.
But in all this confusion, the one unsung truth,
The sound of youth
Will not be heard here today.
So I have transcribed this love letter bleached in fire
To the leaders across these halls
In a call I hope they might hear in time.
Maybe not today, but maybe some Sunday afternoon some time soon…
Dear old people.
Welcome to the river of January.
The land that has touched my heart and
One in which i would not part
Without placing my own little mark in the Rio+20 text
of all those you were meant to represent,
alive, and not yet present.
You have all worked very hard, and by and large
You have done your best to compromise a text
Much faster than any of us imagined.
But a forced hand
Will not brand this summit a success;
Unless the hand that holds the pen
Remembers when their power were granted,
and who it was that handed it to them.
In this declaration, you have declared war against my generation.
There is no means or end in sight,
No ambition in the air and no sense of something fair enough
For those at the dark end of development.
The grass tips of sustainability have been disconnected from their roots,
And the meaning of green has been looted and polluted by
Weak and deleted words that once sought to conserve
What we believed in
With nouns that seem strong enough to deceive the media
But verbs weak enough for their sounds to mean nothing
On the ground.
There is nothing here to be proud of.
It’s not just your job to find consensus.
You don’t represent me by making friends with policies that abuse my ability to grow old;
You fulfil your role by being bold enough to trust not your trust-fund but your conscious,
if this is our common future,
than you have sold you my fate and subsidised our common destruction.
Each and every one of you.
And it hurts me to say this.
For many of you have fought hard for my future.
Many among you have dedicated your lives, just as I
To protecting the rights of all people
Within, and without your territorial lines.
You are the elders I look up to for guidance
You are the defenders I admire.
But this time you have emptied my dreams.
I admit that that I do not know all the answers.
I admit that my hands have not built better energy supplies
And my eyes have not designed a way to implement human rights,
But I still desire to find a light
At the end of this never ending plenary.
You have faught hard to draft this text,
But I will not sign my name at the end.
If this is the world’s vision,
Then I no longer want to have children.
…for I don’t want them to live in the pain of a past we can’t afford to repeat.
But unlike many of you, I have been outside this air-conditioning and I have breathed in
The pride of the people outside these walls.
I have danced, and dreamed and cried on the streets of Rio
And I have found something to believe in.
We the common people. Indigenous to mother earth,
Deserve a declaration that affirms our rights to develop in a way that is not only sustainable
But able to adapt to a changing climate,
That climbs the ladder laid out before us with the wisdom of those who have lived sustainably
With the laws of nature
We deserve a document that builds on the Kari-Oca declaration of Indigenous peoples
And the peoples sustainability treaties
We deserve a future that finds its feet in the farmers who live off the land,
And upheld in the hands of those who have no land to stand on.
We deserve a future for all.
And that is why I call upon this gathering to abandon the current Rio declaration
And look to the people for what to do next.
About the authorChris Wright
Climate researcher, political ecologist, activist and an award-winning slam poet from Australia.