Making Sense of Saving the Planet: The First Days of Rio+20

After ten days of rain, the clouds pulled apart and Rio+20 events began. As upwards of 50,000 people head to the City of Samba and Saints to figure out how to treat the planet and each other, many are lost as to the goals and projected outcomes from Rio+20. An ambitious summit of paramount importance, the Human Impacts Institute takes a grassroots, personal look at how those here in Rio can navigate the complexity of venues, events, negotiations, and much, much more.


Ideas that Matter: TedX Rio+20

At the TedX Rio+20 talks, guest speakers included Gabor MatMaté, a medical doctor from Canada specializing in addiction, who made the link between our current consumption patterns and addiction. His point? We know it’s bad for us, we know it’s killing us, and we keep doing it anyways. We can’t stop.

Action Tip: Watch the Human Impacts Institute’s PSAs on Oil Addiction for steps on how to begin the detox process.

Innovation for Sustainability

TedX Rio+20 also highlighted innovators, including Jessica Mathews of Soccket, a soccer ball that transfers the energy from playing and stores it as a portable power source and Illac Diaz of 1 Liter of Light who are working with poor communities to recycle soda bottles into low-cost, DIY, daytime solar lights. Both of these entrepreneurs are showing us how simple innovations can have high impacts.

Action Tip: What do all great ideas need? Funding to get them started! Support ecopreneurship by funding a local environmental project through Ioby!

Commitments that Stick

At Rio Centro, the negotiations have started and many are wandering what will happen. Will our governments be able to develop a concise, focused document out of Rio that targets commitments. However, regardless of what governments do, civil society needs to ensure that we are playing our part to get the work done in our communities. In this way, no policy outcome from Rio+20 will be a “failure”.

Action Tip: Learn more about the “cloud of commitments” for Rio+20 from environmental policy maestros NRDC, which is a way to track and monitor that our governments are actually doing what they say they will do for people, the planet, and our economies. And why not make your own commitments to sustainability? Post your Rio+20 personal commitment to the Human Impacts Institute’s facebook page. Let’s inspire each other to move from talk to action!

Now that we’re talking the talk, let’s walk the walk!

A key first step to sustainability commitments is to put our money where our mouth is. According to Oil Change International, nearly $1 trillion is being given out to fossil fuel subsidies each year for the continued exploitation of our planet’s natural resources. If we are to begin growing a green economy and investing in sustainable development, we must stop giving handouts to some of the richest companies on the planet. Governments need to show their support for sustainable development by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies completely and investing more in renewable alternatives. We are calling upon world leaders to commit at Rio+20 to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 and to creating an international body to facilitate, monitor, and enforce the process of ending fossil fuel subsidies.

Action Tip: How do we do this? One way is to engage in the Separate Oil and Stateactions for Rio+20. Send us your photos! We want to see you with your message to our leaders about ending fossil fuel subsidies. Use the poster template or make your own poster and post personalized photos and videos to our Separate Oil and State facebook page today!

By Tara DePorte, Executive Director and Founder, Human Impacts Institute

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