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by John Perkins
An event that could be world-changing is currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro: the Rio+20, a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The gathering will include at least 100 heads of state (President Obama declined to attend), government officials, leaders from the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders. Their mandate is to lay out feasible and timely solutions for reducing poverty, advancing social equity and ensuring sustainable development around the globe.
But let's not expect too much. NGOs that were given the opportunity to review a draft text of the probable conclusions have criticized it for failing to address global carrying capacities, tipping points, the problems associated with nuclear energy and fossil fuels, and the socio-economic bases for measuring true development (as opposed to GDP growth). A report recently released by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon states: "the international community should measure development beyond GDP and develop a new sustainable development index or set of indicators."
That, in my opinion, is the key to human survival on this planet – at least as we know it. We must come up with new definitions for "develop" and "progress." These must take into account that the current system is a total failure. Half the world is starving or on the verge of starvation, while 5% of us who live in the US consume nearly 30% of global resources (and. as we know, 1% of that 5% consumes the vast majority of these).
More hopeful is the People's Summit that kicked off in Rio on June 15, 2012. This conference brought together people from global movements and it did address the need to create new ways to measure social and economic progress, as well as environmental degradation, social inequity, and the rejection of green speculation, nuclear energy, and fossil fuel subsidies.
In reference to Rio+20 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon emphatically requested that world leaders not squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity. It has been Ban's starkest warning to date, implying the utmost importance of global cooperation when it comes to addressing environmental destruction and the eradication of poverty. This is a chance to move away from business as usual and to build a bridge to a brighter future.
The message for you and me is very clear: do not expect these world leaders to lead us away from the precipice. Do not be disappointed. Instead, recognize that We the People are the only solution. And we are coming together. Our voices are being heard in the Occupy Movement, the demonstrations in Europe, the outcry against Putin in Russia, the Arab Spring, the drive to true democracies throughout Latin America, and places like the Peoples Summit in Rio.
You and I must keep up the pressure. Speak out, write letters, send emails, sign petitions. Watch the way you shop!
:: for more of John's newsletters, please visit johnperkins.org ::
John Perkins' books on economics and geo-politics have sold more than 1 million copies, spent many months on the New York Times and other bestseller lists, and are published in over 30 languages.