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A Date with History: 17 yr old Brittany Trilford addresses world leaders at the UN Earth Summit

And the talks begin. (Follow the Guardian's Live blog)

UN Secretary General  Ban Ki-moon was upbeat this morning as he initiated the commencement of the official Rio+20 talks, just one day after the final negotiating Zero Draft Document was completed.

“We are now in sight of a historic agreement,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his address to Rio+20’s opening session. “Let us not waste this opportunity. The world is watching to see if words will translate into action, as we know they must.” Source

The deeply disappointing  final negotiating document, ironically titled ""The Future We Want" has been met with a concensus of anger by civil society, NGOs and major groups, all of whom agree that the text lacks a clear plan of action to monitor or define new goals of sustainable development, nor does it lay out requisite commitments to the design and implementation of a green economy which takes into account both social and environmental issues.

Hopes that the document would set forward a concise timetable and commitments towards  "sustainable development goals" focusing on the safety of oceans, food security, renewable energies, employment and gender equity were dashed as the key power brokers - the US, China, the EU and Brazil - muddied the waters sufficiently to ensure no authentic action remained a possibility.

And once again, as is the case in the UNFCCC Climate Negotiations, the rift between the developed (North) and undeveloped (South) reveals a highly flawed, top heavy and economically driven agenda which disenfranchises the poor, the rights of nature itself and threatens the very essence of biodiversity necessary to maintain life on the planet.

A key shortcoming of the text was the failure of negotiators to effectively agree to terms of "common but differentiated responsibility,"Principle 7 of the original Rio Declaration.

The principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) is one of the cornerstones of sustainable development. It has emerged as a principle of International Environmental Law and has been explicitly formulated in the context of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It finds its origins in equity considerations and equity principles in international law. It informs in particular the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.  Source
It's pathetic," said Jim Leape, the head of WWF. "If this text proposed by Brazil is accepted, then the last year of negotiations has been a colossal waste of time. If you saw this document without knowing what it was supposed to be, you might think Rio+20 was convened as a seminar."

Meanwhile, after two years of studying the global financial markets, Greenpeace global leader Kumi Naidoo has informed attendees at Rio that his organization intends to hold financial organizations responsible for the failure of these negotiations.

"We have been investing a lot of effort over the past couple of years to understand the industry and where the leverage points are and I think we are close to this point and finance institutions should be put on notice that not only Greenpeace but others are going to be putting them under much greater scrutiny.

"Our aim is to get all banks to say we won't make loans to oil, coal, gas and deforestation-related activity. We want to shut off the flow of capital. The time is right because the banks are at their most vulnerable in terms of public legitimacy." Source

Four minutes we all need to listen to.

Full text

Tena Koutou from New Zealand. My name is Brittany Trilford. I am seventeen years old, a child. Today, in this moment, I am all children, your children, the world’s three billion children. Think of me for these short minutes as half the world.

I stand here with fire in my heart. I’m confused and angry at the state of the world and I want us to work together now to change this. We are here to solve the problems that we have caused as a collective, to ensure that we have a future.

You and your governments have promised to reduce poverty and sustain our environment. You have already promised to combat climate change, ensure clean water and food security. Multi-national corporations have already pledged to respect the environment, green their production, compensate for their pollution. These promises have been made and yet, still, our future is in danger.

We are all aware that time is ticking and is quickly running out. You have 72 hours to decide the fate of your children, my children, my children’s children. And I start the clock now… tck tck tck.

Let us think back to twenty years ago – well before I was even an inkling in my parents’ eyes – back to here, to Rio, where people met at the first Earth Summit in 1992. People at this Summit knew there needed to be change. All of our systems were failing and collapsing around us. These people came together to acknowledge these challenges to work for something better, commit to something better.

They made great promises, promises that, when I read them, still leave me feeling hopeful. These promises are left – not broken, but empty. How can that be? When all around us is the knowledge that offers us solutions. Nature as a design tool offers insight into systems that are whole, complete, that give life, create value, allow progress, transformation, change.

We, the next generation, demand change. We demand action so that we have a future and have it guaranteed. We trust that you will, in the next 72 hours, put our interests ahead of all other interests and boldly do the right thing. Please, lead. I want leaders who lead.

I am here to fight for my future. That is why I’m here. I would like to end by asking you to consider why you’re here and what you can do. Are you here to save face? Or are you here to save us?


Is the World getting better or worse? Interactive Rio+20 interactive: is the world getting better or worse?


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Best Coverage: The Guardian
Third World Network
Climate Connections
Women on the Road to Rio
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Cloud of Commitments


Today's Rio Fact

Climate change to worsen hunger as UN's Rio+20 begins
The number of undernourished women and young children could increase 20% and affect one of every five within a decade because of climate change's impact on food production, according to an analysis by the World Health Organization and other groups. Today, one in seven or 495 million women and children under age 5 lack sufficient food, the report says, adding population growth will worsen the problem.

2:16 PM PT: From EcoSanity:

Greed, greenwash and coordinated sabotage dominated negotiations through the lead up to the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit (June 20-22).

A butchered, meaningless, watered down document has now been adopted.

With 2 days to go, the biggest UN conference in history is about to punctuate 20 years of international inaction with a collective middle finger of betrayal raised in the faces of the world's most vulnerable children / people / species, and toward any sane vision that could be proportional to the scale, scope and urgency (EMERGENCY!) of the global climate crisis.

Get informed. Get inspired (pissed-off?). Get involved.

Check out ecoSanity's Rio+20 compilation in progress.

Sign this petition that seeks to put an end to $1 trillion in perverse, global fossil fuel subsidies / handouts to polluters. Dilma: Save the Rio Earth Summit!

And check back for updates as events transpire over the next few days.


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