Reflections on Rio+20
- By Richard Branson -
- Jun 26, 2012
Having had time to reflect on Rio+20, it could be seen as a disappointment due to the shameful lack of government commitment. Governments could have done a lot of good in Rio making their companies money while cleaning up the planet and business practices – at no cost to them. They could have got rid of fossil fuels subsidies, which would give clean technology the massive boost it needs and save their countries money. They could have agreed to protect the open seas and police the open seas instead of letting them carry on getting decimated by industrial fishing. Instead they chose not to do a thing.
But the week ended with renewed hope - not because of government but because of individual people. On the margins of the main negotiations, hundreds of collaborations and agreements were started or strengthened.
People are taking action. That was clear by the entrepreneurs and local community initiatives honoured at the United Nations Development Program Equator Awards, which recognized 25 indigenous community initiatives that are leading the way in environmental conservation. More than 800 community groups from 66 countries and 13 different languages were nominated – just imagine the progress and innovation coming out of local ingenuity and what is possible with greater financing and access to these practices. Likewise, the Screw Business as Usual awards, given at Rio+Social, recognized entrepreneurs such as Eben Bayer, who is eliminating disposable plastics with mushrooms. His product applies mother earth’s ecosystem to help us reduce waste – meaning, after you use his Styrofoam-alternative, it will break down safely right in your own back yard!
The collective will and moral authority of the planet’s people continues to drive change. You can do your part with Greenpeace to turn the Arctic into a global sanctuary to protect the high seas. The OceanElders met with several countries to discuss protecting the high seas, and we’ve now got their involvement and ideas for approaching ocean protection. The Carbon War Room’s partnership with Aruba to get it fossil fuels free by 2020 makes great business sense and their approach will help other island nations do the same; if one island nation can do it, so can we all.
While we continue to push to end government fossil fuel subsidies, we the people must continue to encourage clean energy development and adopt clean energy in our lives and our work. The planet will not notice announcements, platitudes and excuses; the planet will notice action. We mustn’t forget that man made the problem - now man must fix it.
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group