Hot air or fresh air?

I’m pretty cynical when it comes to politicians. There was a time when I followed a party line (although I’ve never been a member of a political party) but these days I’m a swinging voter. On election day I vote for the candidate I think has the best interests of all of us at heart. Usually it’s a case of “which one will do the least damage?” since those who genuinely put the welfare of the nation first are few, and far between.

Hence, I’m not particularly hopeful that anything positive will follow the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development which took place last week. The odd name came about because this conference came twenty years after the first Earth Summit, also held in Rio de Janeiro. At that one world leaders vowed to roll back climate change, desertification and species loss. So, what has changed since then? Very little that I can see.

I’m a bit nonplussed about Rio+20. UN chief Ban Ki-moon opened the summit, which saw 191 UN members (including 86 presidents and heads of government) get together. SBS reported that, beginning on Wednesday, “Some 191 speakers are expected to take the floor until Friday when the summit leaders are to give their seal of approval to a 53-page draft document agreed by negotiators on Tuesday.” If “negotiators” produced an agreement on Tuesday – before the conference even began – what was the point of the three days of speeches? Our worthy leaders trying to impress each other, or perhaps even more likely, to impress the voters back home. Bah, humbug to all of ’em!

There was one bright star there, though. Brittany Trilford, a 17-year-old student from New Zealand, challenged leaders to lay the foundation for a more sustainable world. “I stand here with fire in my heart. I’m confused and angry at the state of the world. We are here to solve the problems that we have caused as a collective, to ensure that we have a future,” she said. “I am here to fight for my future…I would like to end by asking you to consider why you are here and what you can do here. I would like you to ask yourselves: Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us?”

Good question, Brittany.