I spent three days this week attending the Stockholm+ 40 conference. We were a pretty eclectic group, formed of politicians, business people, young thinkers and legislators from many countries but with one common goal: to try and progress in this very complicated and difficult process to establish concrete changes to secure a sustainable environment changes that will prevent the globe from a melt down.
I can say that the Stockholm’s + 40 Conference managed to gather world’s leaders who presented their proposals and agendas for the Rio + 20 meeting in June, thus creating some momentum for the rather subdued expectations for Rio.
The Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, stressed the importance of a circular economy and paid tributes to the Nordic countries, mostly Sweden for its role providing technical solutions for sustainable development.
Achim Steiner, Head of UNEP was one of the most outspoken speakers. He stressed that governments and businesses need to accelerate and put in a new gear to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and take the necessary actions to meet our planet challenges. He drew attention to the large subsidies that still exist for fossil fuels and wondered what is stopping us from taking concrete actions to build a greener economy.
Teresa Fogelberg, Deputy Chief Executive at the Global Reporting Initiative reported that more and more companies, government agencies and organizations report their sustainability efforts. In my interview with Teresa Fogelberg as she sees that the issue of mandatory reporting are discussed with increasing frequency.
There were about fifty young leaders from developing and developed countries that were invited to the conference. They voiced their concerns regarding the lack of popular support to actions that mitigate global warming. According to Alex Wang, the executive director of The Youthink Centre in Beijing, there is very little involvement from the public in green issues.
Citizens need to participate and demand that politicians prioritize the development of a low carbon economy. However, we all know that grass roots mobilization is a slow process and perhaps the earth does not have that much lifetime left!
We are faced with few options. Either the public, politicians and the business community together embrace the urgent need of change to a sustainable economy or there will be no future for any of us.
Listen to the opinion of Sha Zukang, the United Nations Secretary General for the Rio +20 conference on the results and challenges coming out of Stockholm +40.
Kaj Embrén – Follow on Twitter