Growing up there was one phrase that I often heard my parents say whenever they did something wrong or had an unexpected outcome. The phrase ‘tajrobay shod’, transliterated in English as ‘we experienced and we learnt’ always left me with a feel-good, positive attitude about the outcome of my mistakes. Even though I went to Rio +20 with high hopes, mid-way through the conference the feeling of dismay and disappointment kicked in and I was ready to be a part of Bjorn Lomborg crew. It was then, that I remembered the previous childhood lesson of ‘tajrobay shod’ and decided that there was no point in harping about the negative outcomes that most of us predicted anyways. So, why bother getting mad, walking out, banging our heads against the wall – instead I pondered how could I make Rio +20 a positive experience. So in search for lessons from Rio +20, I will be touching upon three issues that in my opinion would have made Rio +20 more effective, especially for the majority group.
Putting a Human Face to Our Challenges
This point was brought up during one of my discussions Alfredo Younis, from Zambuling Institute for Human Transformation at a side-event by Peace Child called ‘Lets get Mad’. The need for identifying important actors that are at the root of the problems that we are trying to solve is key in raising awareness for a particular issue. Putting a human face to something simply means that you identify the actors that are directly involved in the action and hold them accountable for their actions. By ‘putting a human face’ to the abstract concept of ‘green economy’ one can frame an issue in a way, which is more relatable to an individual. As Alfredo Younis put it, we should not demand a green economy, but we should ask for green economist.
Talking about Our Values and Priorities
There needs to be recognition that the problems and challenges that we are facing are a manifestation of broader value systems. We need to move beyond our campaigns for green energy, food security, deforestation etc. to focus on the greater transformation that we need to set the pace for ‘the future we want’. Our campaigns for all these issues are important, however, the majority group and hopefully the citizens of the world do recognize their co-dependence on each other and the need for dialogue about our priorities, actions, and way of life. Working in silos on our campaigns needs to end for the greater recognition for a change in our mindset and actions. We cannot keep on patching holes in the fabric of our society – we need to transform the core of this fabric. We cannot talk about sustainable development without talking about our consumerist and materialist habits. Similarly, we cannot talk about eradication of poverty without talking about unequal distribution of resources and we surely cannot talk about sustainable growth without question ‘growth’ itself.
Lets Do Something About it
So Rio +20 wasn’t a success, what can I do? I want everyone to ask himself or herself this question. Inaction thrives on lack of responsibility and anger – we need to turn our anger into positive lessons and take it upon ourselves to do something that will inspire us to bring social change in whatever way we can. Inspired by Rio +20 (I know this sounds ironic), I decided to grow a venture I started earlier this year called “Ruminize” (ruminize.com) which is going to serve as a story-sharing platform to inspire people and help them form a community of changemakers for local solutions that can go global.
Sana Rafiq is i2i’s Marketing and Social Media Summer Assosiate, pursuing a B.A. in Economics and Political Science at Carleton College, MN. Her passions include new economics and sustainable development. She is an avid reader and loves discussions on philosophy, the number zero, and complexity.