You are currently browsing the IPA blog archives for August, 2012.
- Statement to the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Person
- Climate Crisis Is Man Made, Scientists Nearly Unanimous
- International Day of Families 2013
- Communication and Solidarity
- New Ways of Sustainable Living are Being Created!
- Commemorating 20th Anniversary!
- Volunteers are Essential to our Wellbeing!
- Sprinting to the Millennium Development Goals Finish Line
- Briefing on Secretary General’s Five Year Action Plan for Youth – 29 April 2013
- African dream ‘held back by illicit outflow of capital’
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Presentation Sisters - Story of the Icon
Mallow Famous People - Nano Nagle
Nano Nagle - Presentation Primary Kilkenny History Page
Iona Presentation College Western Australia
Nano Nagle National School, Fethard Co Tipperary Ireland
Nora Cronin Presentation Academy
Presentation College, Aberdeen SD USA
Presentation High School, San Jose, California USA
Presentation Primary, Kilkenny Ireland
Presentation Secondary School, Galway Ireland
Scoil Mhuire, Clane, Co Galway Ireland
St Brigid's Catholic Primary School, New Norfolk Tas Australia
St Mary's College, Hobart Tas Australia
St Rita's College, Clayfield Qld Australia
St Ursula's College, Yeppoon Qld Australia
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ErinEarth, Wagga Wagga NSW Australia
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Presentation Spirituality Centre, Manly Qld Australia
New Advent (Catholic Resources) - Order of the Presentation
Presentation Convent Kodaikanal, India
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2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy For All
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Archive for August, 2012
The IPA Assembly will be held from 21 to 27 September in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Presentation Sisters around the world have been preparing for this gathering by daily praying the Assembly Prayer, reflecting on Consciousness Evolving, and also reading and praying with the Treasured Narrative Memory and in groups or individually responding to the question: What do we see emerging among us as Presentation People on mission?
The theme “Rock, Sea, Fire, Consciousness Evolving” arose out of our reflection on the land on which we will meet and the evolving cosmos:
- our response to the FIRE of Nano’s story and the beginnings of the universe
- the heart for God’s Mission that led Presentation Sisters to cross the SEA to so many lands
- the ROCK of faith and courage in us, in which our hope for the future can be reborn.
The goals of the 2012 Assembly are:
- to affirm each sister’s contribution to IPA’s mission
- to deepen our sense of oneness in the spirit of Nano, lived out in diverse ways
- to deepen our consciousness of the Universe Story and of our interconnectedness with the whole community of life
- to become more aware of the ways in which IPA’s mission has evolved over the past five years and implications of this for the future
- to nurture a contemplative stance throughout the Assembly
- to set clear directions for IPA’s mission in the next five years.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was celebrated on 9 August. This year the theme was Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices. Click here to view the three and half hour programme on the UN web. You may also like to visit the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples website.
Sparkling eyes and impish grins, two little boys grotesquely lumber along. “We’re dinosaurs” they gleefully announce. Little girls skipping are a rippling creek. All thirty children have just exploded out of the belly of a dying supernova as stardust and coalesced into an imaginative array of mountains, penguins and Tasmanian devils. Shoes and sun-hats back on they move outside to explore the dam, wetlands, veggie garden, looking for all these creatures that they are related to. Our new science understandings make fabulous drama! The above activities are part of a pilot program being developed by ErinEarth retired volunteer teachers and are an expression of a huge mind-shift taking place among them. This shift in consciousness is expressed in the preamble to a new document for teachers in Catholic schools who wish to bring their classes to the site.
“At ErinEarth we see that the underpinning of our teaching is twofold:
the understanding of our Universe Story
as a 14 billion year evolutionary story
given to us by our scientists,
and understanding this story
as Sacred Story, as revelation of God, within which our Christian story is nested.
In the spirit of Thomas Aquinas, both Doctor of the Church and mystic, speaking of
‘every creature as God’s work of art’ we understand the following:
when the children are intrigued by the centipede they find under a rock or understand how bees pollinate flowers they are gaining insight into the nature of God;
When the children’s natural wonder and awe is nurtured their spirituality is deepened;
When children understand their own biological connection to the animals and plants
their respect for all elements of our Planet Earth is enhanced.
Then the simple choices for sustainable living that children make have more meaning.”
It’s been fascinating to watch ErinEarth continuing to evolve. In 1997 the Wagga Wagga Presentation Sisters’ Chapter mandated Kaye Bryan and Carmel Wallis to establish an education resource for sustainable living. What did this mean in practice? To picture what was needed they organised a meal and workshop inviting stakeholders from the local community, from diverse fields such as local schools and university, the City Council, welfare, trades and businesses. What exists now arose from the sixty-five participants at that workshop and explains how, from the very beginning, ErinEarth has been embedded in the local community.
Initially the focus has been hands-on skills for sustainable living – vegetable gardening, establishing water-wise gardens, energy-wise practices and ways to conserve a rich biodiversity. Gradually the practical is now including what one volunteer calls “soul stuff”. Terms such as “a spirituality of Country”, “an ecological spirituality” and more recently “planetary spirituality” are being used.
The ErinEarth network come from very different backgrounds, some affiliated to a religious group and some not. What is emerging is a spirituality that is inclusive and is committed to act for the good of the whole Earth community. With the global consciousness is a growing deep appreciation of our local plants and aniumals – the redbox that is a haven for the nesting galahs and possums and the nearby wattle where the newly returned Peron’s tree frog now sits.
Nuclear tests remain a threat to human health and global stability. The International Day against Nuclear Tests is an important opportunity to call attention to their harmful and long-lasting effects as well as the continued danger posed by the existence of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.
Around the world, symposia, conferences, exhibitions and competitions are being held to raise public awareness and galvanize action to finally end nuclear tests. To achieve this goal, States that have not yet signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must do so without delay. The CTBT, which aims to establish a verifiable, permanent global ban on all types of nuclear explosive tests, enjoys near-universal support but has yet to enter into force. The importance of bringing this about was reaffirmed by the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Pending the Treaty’s entry into force, I urge all States to uphold the current moratorium on all nuclear test explosions. However, while existing voluntary moratoriums on nuclear weapon tests are essential, they are no substitute for a total global ban.
On this Day, I pledge to personally continue promoting the cause of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to intensify my efforts to encourage all remaining States to ratify the CTBT. The Treaty’s verification mechanism has already proven its effectiveness. I reiterate my standing offer to visit the capital of any State that remains unconvinced about the reliability of the Treaty’s monitoring and inspection systems to answer their questions and resolve their concerns.
As we mark this International Day against Nuclear Tests, let us strengthen our efforts to end to nuclear weapons testing and promote the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Secretary General of the United Nations
A subtle but profound change is currently taking place that could potentially improve the living conditions of people everywhere: Governments around the world are acknowledging finally that increasing gross domestic product (GDP, the market value of all officially recognized goods and services produced within a country in a given period) does not necessarily indicate success or improvements in well-being. In fact, sometimes well-being decreases as GDP increases, especially in higher-income countries. Alternatives to GDP, specifically “happiness” measurements that integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions, are gaining respect as practical tools to shape public policies.
The Earth Institute recently released the World Happiness Report which summarizes the decades of research into causes of happiness and techniques for measuring it. While dismissed by many for years, research shows that “happiness, though indeed a subjective experience, can be objectively measured, assessed, correlated with observable brain functions, and related to the characteristics of an individual and the society… It can signal underlying crises or hidden strengths. It can suggest the need for change.”
Happiness surveys have been carried out for many years by the Gallup World Poll (GWP), the World Values Survey (WVS), and the European Social Survey (ESS). The GWP is the largest, covering more than 150 countries. The surveys have shown, perhaps not surprisingly, that “[h]igher income, better health of mind and body, and a high degree of trust in one’s community (‘social capital’) all contribute to high life satisfaction; poverty, ill health, and deep divisions in the community all contribute to low life satisfaction.”
But a higher income does not guarantee more happiness: “A household’s income counts for life satisfaction, but only in a limited way. Other things matter more: community trust, mental and physical health, and the quality of governance and rule of law. Raising incomes can raise happiness, especially in poor societies, but fostering cooperation and community can do even more, especially in rich societies that have a low marginal utility of income. It is no accident that the happiest countries in the world tend to be high-income countries that also have a high degree of social equality, trust, and quality of governance. In recent years, Denmark has been topping the list. And it’s no accident that the US has experienced no rise of life satisfaction for half a century, a period in which inequality has soared, social trust has declined, and the public has lost faith in its government.”
The studies show, and more governments agree, that “GDP is a valuable goal, but should not be pursued to the point where economic stability is jeopardized, community cohesion is destroyed, the vulnerable are not supported, ethical standards are sacrificed, or the world’s climate is put at risk. While basic living standards are essential for happiness, after the baseline has been met happiness varies more with quality of human relationships than income. Other policy goals should include high employment and high-quality work; a strong community with high levels of trust and respect, which government can influence through inclusive participatory policies; improved physical and mental health; support of family life; and a decent education for all… The most basic goal is that by measuring happiness across a society and over time, countries can avoid ‘happiness traps’ such as in the U.S. in recent decades, where GDP may rise relentlessly while life satisfaction stagnates or even declines.”
The potential for significant change in public policy caused by focusing on better measurements of wellbeing must not be underestimated. Our obsession with GDP for so many decades has led many governments to adopt policies that increase economic growth while at the same time decreasing happiness and overall health of citizens. This has resulted in new crises of obesity, smoking, diabetes, depression, and other ills of modern life. By focusing on increasing happiness instead of an outdated number like GDP, perhaps the U.S. could truly fulfill its promise to help people secure their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Maryknoll Ofﬁce for Global Concerns
NewsNotes A bi-monthly newsletter of information on international justice and peace issues
July-August 2012 Vol. 37, No. 4
On 15 August 2012 a high-level court suspended construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam project on the Amazon’s Xingu River, citing overwhelming evidence that indigenous people had not been properly consulted prior to government approval of the project.
A group of judges from Brazil’s Regional Federal Tribunal (TRF1) upheld an earlier decision that declared the Brazilian Congress’s authorization of the project in 2005 to be illegal. The decision concludes that the Brazilian Constitution and ILO Convention 169, to which Brazil is party, require that Congress can only authorize the use of water resources for hydroelectric projects after an independent assessment of environmental impacts and subsequent consultations with affected indigenous peoples.
The ruling means that Brazilian Congress will have to correct its previous error by organizing consultations on the project’s impacts with affected indigenous peoples of the Xingu River, especially the Juruna, Arara and Xikrin tribes. Their opinions should be considered in a Congressional decision on whether to authorize Belo Monte, and in the meantime the project consortium has been ordered to suspend construction. Project consortium Norte Energia, S.A, led by the parastatal energy company Eletrobras, faces a daily fine of R$500,000, or about US$250,000, if it does not comply with the suspension. The dam consortium is expected to appeal the decision in the Brazilian Supreme Court.
“The court’s decision highlights the urgent need for the Brazilian government and Congress to respect the federal constitution and international agreements on prior consultations with indigenous peoples regarding projects that put their livelihoods and territories at risk. Human rights and environmental protection cannot be subordinated to narrow business interests” stated Federal Judge Souza Prudente, who authored the ruling.
“This latest court ruling vindicates what indigenous people, human rights activists and the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office have been demanding all along. We hope that President Dilma’s Attorney General and the head judge of the federal court (TRF1) will not try to subvert this important decision, as they have done in similar situations in the past,” said Brent Millikan of International Rivers, based in Brasilia.
“This decision reinforces the request made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in April 2011 to suspend the project due to lack of consultations with indigenous communities. We hope that Norte Energia and the government comply with this decision and respect the rights of indigenous communities,” said Joelson Cavalcante of the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), an organization giving legal support to affected communities.
The Brazilian Congress authorized construction of Belo Monte seven years ago without an environmental impact assessment (EIA). A subsequent study – produced by state-owned energy company Eletrobras and three of Brazil’s largest construction companies (Camargo Correa, Andrade Gutierrez, and Odebrecht) – was widely criticized for underestimating socio-environmental impacts, especially on indigenous peoples and other traditional communities living downstream from the huge dam that would divert 80% of the Xingu’s natural flow. The EIA was approved by Brazil’s federal environmental agency (IBAMA) in February 2010 under intense political pressure and over the objections of the agency’s own technical staff.
With dam construction racing ahead since June 2011, many of Belo Monte’s forewarned social and environmental consequences are proving real. As a result, indigenous people have become more vocal in their opposition to Belo Monte.
During the United Nations’ Rio+20 conference in June, indigenous leaders launched a 21- day occupation of the dam site, protesting against the growing impacts of the project and broken promises by dam-builders. Two weeks later, indigenous communities detained three Norte Energia engineers on tribal lands. Both protests demanded suspension of the project due to non-compliance of mitigation requirementes. Last month, the Federal Public Prosecutors’ Office filed a lawsuit calling for suspension of the Belo Monte’s installation license, given widespread non-compliance with conditions of the project’s environmental licenses. Given this contentious and convoluted history, the long overdue process of consultations with indigenous peoples on Belo Monte is not likely to produce a positive verdict on Belo Monte, from the point of view of indigenous peoples.
Similar conflicts over violations of indigenous rights by dam projects are emerging elsewhere in the Brazilian Amazon. Last week, in another landmark decision led by judge Souza Prudente, a group of judges from the TRF1 , the same court ordered the immediate suspension of one of five large dams planned for the Teles Pires river, a major tributary of the Tapajos river, noting a lack of prior and informed consultations with the Kayabi, Apiakás and Munduruku indigenous peoples affected by the project.
According to Souza Prudente, “the aggression against indigenous peoples in the case of the Teles Pires dam has been even more violent than in Belo Monte. A political decision to proceed with the construction of five large dams along the Teles Pires river was made by the Ministry of Mines and Energy with no effective analysis of impacts on the livelihoods and territories of indigenous peoples. The Sete Quedas rapids on the Teles Pires river are considered sacred by indigenous peoples and are vital for the reproduction of fish that are a staple of their diets. Yet none of this was taken into account in the basin inventory and environmental impact studies. Moreover, the government and Congress simply ignored their obligations to ensure prior and informed consultations with indigenous peoples, as determined by the Federal Constitution and ILO Convention 169″.
Late yesterday, the President of the TRF1 announced his intention to overturn the decision of Souza Prudente and other federal judges regarding the Teles Pires hydroproject, marking a growing crisis within Brazil’s judiciary system over the Dilma Rousseff administration’s ambitious dam-building plans in the Amazon.
Office of the Ministerio Público Federal do Pará
It was my fourth time meeting individually with ‘Joey’- a 10 year old student new to our school community. In the last few weeks, Joey had, together with his mother and little sister, fled their home, moved in with his maternal grandmother, lost contact with his friends, moved schools and had no further contact with his father (who had initially moved back in with Joey’s paternal grandmother).
Joey’s father was now in prison. Late one night he had attacked Joey’s mother in their kitchen with a knife and it was Joey who had woken up, run into the kitchen and managed to distract and momentarily disarm his father, giving the three of them just enough time to escape from their house and climb over the back fence.
On the last three occasions Joey had been, appropriately and understandably, cautious and closed when meeting with me. However, this was our last pastoral session before the school holidays and Joey was distressed. So distressed in fact, that he sobbed uncontrollably for 24 minutes straight… All that Joey wanted for the school holidays was to be reunited with his beloved dog, Indi… “If only I could see her again, then I would be okay”.
In their previous home, Joey had adopted the stray neighbourhood dog and named her Indi. Joey’s father had maltreated Indi. Joey and Indi had obviously forged a strong mutual bond of affection, love, loyalty and protection.
“Maybe these school holidays you could go to the local park or to the beach” I suggested – looking for anything to distract Joey from thoughts of Indi.
That didn’t work – more heart-wrenching sobs followed…
I wracked my brain and reasoned that if Joey so loved animals then he might enjoy a day at the zoo… As a last resort, I suggested somewhat hopefully to him “Well, you could possibly go to the zoo”. Joey shot me a long, withering look of ‘how could you be so dumb’ as he blurted out “Why on earth would I go to the zoo? Indi isn’t at the zoo!”
I never believed for a moment that Joey and Indi would ever meet up again and I certainly didn’t want to encourage a false sense of hope in Joey. Indi was most probably in a pound awaiting adoption, or living back on the street as a stray… or worse still maybe she had even been put down.
As the clock ticked and the tears continued to fall and all my efforts at trying to settle Joey failed miserably, I did what I should have done long before and that was to silently and earnestly pray! “Look God, Joey your son is really distressed here and I can’t even stop his sobbing … his heart is broken … he is in dire need of some sort of healing after all that he has been through and only You can do this during these school holidays… Please look after him and keep him safe during these holidays.”
I returned a still very upset Joey to his teacher, apologising for my inability to compose him.
In the first week back after the school holidays I went, with much trepidation, to fetch Joey for our next session together. His teacher informed me that she was too afraid to ask Joey how his holidays had been – lest she unleash a flood of tears again – but that she had noticed a big change in him in that he was far more settled and engaged in learning. I shared her same fear. My trust and faith in God’s willingness to truly heal and shepherd his wounded and lost lamb, Joey, was at about 0.1%.
Joey then proceeded to tell me that one day during the holidays he and his Mum had gone to a different shopping centre – a centre far away and not like their regular one – and there he and his mother had simultaneously spotted, from afar, Joey’s paternal grandmother, Nana. They had both agreed that they would walk on pretending that they had not seen Nana, but that if she were to approach them they would then run to their car and drive away. And approach them she did!
Nana called out loudly to them both to stop: “I just want to talk to you… I have been waiting for so long to speak with you but I didn’t know how to contact you and I was so afraid that you would not even want to listen to me”. They both stopped and listened as Nana went on to apologise for her son’s terrible behaviour towards them and to express her sincere sorrow for all that had happened.
“Won’t you come back and have a cup of tea with me?” Nana ended. Joey’s Mum declined the invitation. As Nana turned to leave, almost as an after-thought, she bent down and quietly said to Joey, “Indi’s at home with me now”.
Well, the offer of the cup of tea now simply had to be accepted at Joey’s insistence! Joey went on to describe how Indi had instantly recognised his voice, and all the hugs, wags, pats, nudges, licks and love she had given him (and which, no doubt, had been reciprocated!). I was completely dumbstruck and this time, I was the one who was shedding a tear or three… How profoundly good and attentively loving is our God and how weak is my faith in His genuine desire to heal here today, in our time and place!
I wrapped up our time together by pointing out to Joey – in the manner of all good stories that have that ‘living happily ever after ending’ – that he now may just be able to visit Indi more frequently… to which Joey shot me that same long, withering look from our previous encounter as he responded, “But I don’t actually need to see her any more – I am whole again”.
And healed he is – Praise God – and freed to make new friends, to learn afresh and to live a deeper life! And through witnessing God’s silent, gentle presence and incredibly generous action in Joey’s life, so am I…
Terri Emslie pbvm, Western Australia
Today’s generation of youth — the largest the world has ever known, and the vast majority of whom live in developing countries — has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the entire human family. Yet too many young people, including those who are highly educated, suffer from low-wage, dead-end work and record levels of unemployment. The global economic crisis has hit youth the hardest, and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities. A large number have no immediate prospects and are disenfranchised from the political, social and development processes in their countries. Without urgent measures, we risk creating a “lost generation” of squandered talent and dreams.
Working with and for young people is one of my top priorities. Youth are a transformative force; they are creative, resourceful and enthusiastic agents of change, be it in public squares or cyberspace. From their pivotal role in efforts to achieve freedom, democracy and equality, to their global mobilization in support of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, youth have energetically demonstrated yet again their capacity and desire to turn the tide of history and tackle global challenges.
Young men and women are not passive beneficiaries, but equal and effective partners. Their aspirations extend far beyond jobs; youth also want a seat at the table – a real voice in shaping the policies that shape their lives. We need to listen to and engage with young people. We need to establish more and stronger mechanisms for youth participation. The time has come to integrate youth voices more meaningfully into decision-making processes at all levels.
Around the world, there is growing recognition of the need to strengthen policies and investments involving young people. On International Youth Day, I call on Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to open doors for young people and strengthen partnerships with youth-led organizations. Youth can determine whether this era moves toward greater peril or more positive change. Let us support the young people of our world so they grow into adults who raise yet more generations of productive and powerful leaders.
Ban Ki-Moon, The Secretary-General of the United Nations
Some 600 multinational companies dominate 99 percent of the global economy. At the same time, just half of the world’s population has access to electricity.
Archdiocesan justice coordinator Mary-Ann Greaney attended the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil from June 11 to 23, 2012, as part of a delegation of Presentation Sisters and Associates.
A stark contrast for Mary-Ann was the buzz of high-energy activity at the myriad events, activities and discussions within civil society and the People’s Summit and the low energy in the room where representatives of the heads of state were negotiating an agreement for the conference paper The Future We Want for June 20 to 22.
The conference heard that some $US17 trillion went into rescuing some banks during the 2008 banking crisis. This is enough to feed the world for 600 years.
Most of the bankers involved in the crisis retain their jobs, their high salaries and regularly collect substantial bonuses.
Put this alongside the fact that 800 million people are hungry at any given moment and notice how world leaders’ priorities are skewed.
Many speakers at the parallel events talked about solidarity. Liberation theology guru Leonardo Boff told a meeting that sustainability is based on solidarity and sharing.
‘There is no lack of food in the world. The problem is in the lack of access for the poor to obtain the food they need.’
Nations need to move away from a globalised culture based on markets, the bottom line, business and the economy to nature, energy and spirituality, all in balance. These add up to solidarity.
Developing societies will develop themselves according to their needs and the needs of their people as they renew their aspirations, said Boff.
A Caritas delegate said that a solidarity-based economy puts men and women at the centre and that protects distribution.
Mary-Ann was impressed with the tons of energy in the people who attended and the life and passion they contributed.
‘People were excited. They were talking about movements in which they were involved.
‘For example a young woman in a favela (Brazilian slum) was concerned about the lack of health services there. So she mobilised other young people and collected support for a petition and the government was forced to provide health services to the slum-dwellers.
The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, called on the richest countries to compensate poor nations for damage caused by climate change.
Referring to the 2008 global banking crisis, he said, ‘Money is found to rescue banks; why don’t we put money in to rescue the environment.’ Ecuador has oil, he said.
The country would like to leave it underground, but how will the poor people of Ecuador be compensated for not using this valuable commodity to trade? The 476 million barrels of oil are worth $US14 billion. ‘This isn’t charity,’ he said. ‘The money could be put in a UN trust fund to pay for research on a renewable, non-polluting energy source.’
Another speaker said communities that cut down trees in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest are compensated with funds to replant. But no money is given to communities which don’t fell their trees so there is no incentive to protect the forests.
Mary-Ann said she heard about a school where there are 3,000 college kids who decided they should be recycling the water. They put pressure on the school board about what they could do to be more sustainable. The school now uses recycled water in the toilets.
The art of negotiating
Representatives of heads of state were doing the negotiating.
They were allowed to go only so far before needing to consult their political masters.
Those negotiating on New Zealand’s behalf talked about the ‘games’ in which negotiators engaged. There might be only one measure that New Zealand wanted to be implemented but the negotiators put forward a longer list with which they could bargain.
This meant that they were seen to be ‘giving up’ the things that were not important to NZ and use them as bargaining chips to achieve the one they really wanted.
The words they preferred
The Presentations who attended the conference analysed the document The Future We Want, which writer Sr Rosemary Grundy said showed a weakness of commitment to action on the part of heads of State.
The word ‘recognise’ was the verb most used while ‘must’ was least present. The clause ‘take action’ was also rarely used along with ‘shall’ and ‘we will’ while ‘support’ and ‘promote’ were more popular.
Such generalities represent a massive step back from the so-called Zero Draft Document published in January 2012 based on inputs from a wide variety of stakeholders from around the world. So many ‘contentious’ issues in the Zero Draft Document were deleted from the final draft.
Notable by their absence were leaders from some of the developed countries – Barack Obama of the USA, David Cameron of the UK, German Chancellor Angela Merkle, Stephen Harper of Canada and New Zealand’s John Key.
Their absence was interpreted as an indicator of the low priority being given to the conference. Heads of France and China were there as was Australia’s Julia Gillard.
Since 1972 conferences have been convened at a variety of venues and conventions, treaties, agreements and protocols have been signed in an effort to address unsustainable practices and their impact on Planet Earth.
At Rio in 1992 optimistic world leaders made strong commitments to ensure a sustainable future for all. Despite this, the decline of ecosystems has accelerated, climate change has escalated, natural disasters have intensified, desertification has extended, oceans continue to be used as huge waste dumps, the air is increasingly polluted, rivers, streams mountains and forests are exploited and more than a billion people live in extreme poverty.
What New Zealand said
Environment minister Amy Adams told a followup discussion forum in Wellington on July 19 that the New Zealand Government is committed to oceans management and fossil fuel subsidy reform.
Between $US400 and $US600 billion go to fossil fuel subsidies but only eight percent of those subsidies benefit the poorest people. Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – develop from plant material underground and account for most of the world’s carbon emissions.
‘Some countries spend more on fossil fuel subsidies than on health and education,’ Amy Adams said.
Greens environment spokesperson Kennedy Graham said the world had a governance problem. Most governments would deny there was an ecological crisis and rate Rio as a success.
But if you acknowledge that we are in an ecological crisis – which means resource depletion, biodiversity loss and climate change – you would rate Rio as a failure.
Spokesperson for the New Zealand nongovernment organisations platform at Rio Diana Shand said the Rio document was ‘generally lacking in ambition, urgency and political will’.
‘The document is full of “we know”, “we consider”, “we applaud”, “we uphold” but we don’t see “we commit”.’
Consumption and production are a major problem, she said. It is important that we recognise that inequality affects us all.
Senior lecturer in economics and public policy at Victoria University’s School of Government Cath Wallace welcomed the minister’s commitment to engage with civil society.
But, she said, during the Rio talks the New Zealand Government was amending the Emissions Trading Scheme to extend the period by which agriculture needed to join the scheme.
‘We see a marked retraction from discussion of sustainable development between this government and the previous, Labour government.
Wel-com the Catholic newspaper for the Dioceses of Wellington and Palmerston North, New Zealand
2 August 2012
To read the Presentations’ report on the conference go to http://internationalpresentationassociation.org see Latest News 20 July