Field Report: First Days in Rio

rio_gci_sev I arrived in Rio de Janeiro three days ago and was pleasantly surprised to see how well organized the city was for the influx of tens of thousands of government and non-government participants in the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (i.e. the Earth Summit). Our Brazilian colleagues have organized airport, hotel, and Riocentro shuttle buses for ten days; have installed information desks at all hotels and throughout the airport; and seem to have even organized sunny and warm weather this week.

Global Green USA is here with Green Cross International, along with representatives from Green Cross Brazil, Green Cross Switzerland, Green Cross Ghana, and many other colleagues. As part of the pre-Summit dialogues, we organized an all-day forum for Saturday, June 16, at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in downtown Rio on "Green Cross Returns to Rio" to recognize that Green Cross was conceived at the original 1992 Rio Summit. We are also organizing two more side events: a release on Monday, June 18, of the Climate Change Task Force (CCTF) statement, and an all-day forum Tuesday, June 19, on "Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Technology."

The Climate Change Task Force, convened by President Mikhail Gorbachev, states:

"The impacts of climate change are intensifying across the world: unprecedented temperatures, glacier melt, changing rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, storms, fires and widening desertification are degrading the fragile ecosystems of the planet. They are devastating the lives and livelihoods of millions of people today and undermining prospects for progress, stability and peace in the future…..We, the Members and Associates of the Climate Change Task Force appeal to leaders across the world in all walks of life to face their historic responsibilities by taking strong, urgent and concerted action to face the realities of climate change and to avert its potentially devastating consequences. In a spirit of international solidarity, we call on them to engage public support in defining and implementing a vision and strategy for human progress that is sustainable, inclusive and just."

Green Cross has also organized a "Green Cross Youth Delegation" comprised of teenagers from the United States, Ghana, Switzerland, Brazil, and other countries. They will be speaking out all week, tasked with holding our older generations accountable for the environmental degradation and massive problems we have experienced in the recent decades. This group heard a moving call to action on Saturday from Severn Cullis-Suzuki at the Green Cross forum; Severn, the daughter of well-known Canadian environmental scientist David Suzuki, woke up the 1992 Rio Summit with her speech -- when she was only 12 years-old. Today she is a 32-year-old mother of two young boys, and continues to speak truth to power.

We all are cautiously optimistic on the upcoming Rio+20 Summit, which will officially convene June 20 to 22, at Riocentro, the massive conference center south of Rio. There is also an alternative "People’s Summit" elsewhere in Rio, and grassroots demonstrations have now begun as well. I will report more on these events later this week.