Rio+20 Summit: Environmental Destruction, the Future of Sustainable Development and the 5 Issues That Prevent Us From Changing the World

It has been 20 years since the first Rio Earth Summit, and a lot has happened during that time. The environment is facing more degradation and destruction than ever before, our oceans are in serious danger due to over fishing and chemical waste contamination, and poverty continues to increase dramatically worldwide.

So, what is the Rio+ 20 Summit doing to combat these issues? According to the article in the BBC News, "Nations at odds on Rio+ 20 Summit": not much. It seems world leaders are having a difficult time abiding by the terms of the draft agreement entitled, "The Future We Want". The first summit was established to address issues such as poverty and the environment but little progress has occurred since that original Rio Earth Summit. As this year's summit is currently underway, here are five things to keep in mind:

1) The environment is not on a path to sustainablility, it is on a path to destruction.

With the acceleration of mineral extraction in underdeveloped nations, off-shore drilling and hydrofracking, the environment is facing attack from all angles. Many nations speak the appropriate political rhetoric of sustainable practices, but few are willing to stick with this agenda.

2) Developed nations are unwilling to consider anyone, except their own pockets.

ulti-national corporations and banks continue to plunder continents such as Latin America and Africa, without concern for local and indigenous livelihoods. What will it take for developed nations to realize that life is valuable, and not just when it contributes to growing wealth?

3) Developing and underdeveloped nations still struggle with poverty. 

One reason for this struggle is due to a lack of employment opportunities, because of employers cutting back on employees due to a loss of profits. With poverty comes a lack of access to basic necessites such as shelter and food. Economies are designed to keep going forward, at the expense of many.  

4) Where does social equity fit in? 

People are farther apart on the spectrum socially and economically than they were 20 years ago. Why is this? With all the technological advancements, you would think this would have been solved. Middle class is a term that now seems to have no place in society, just look around at how the gap between the two classes continues to grow. What is missing, is the application of local knowledge along with mainstream thinking. This unification has the ability to solve the problems we currently face.

5) Food security is another huge problem affecting undeveloped and developed nations. 

One reason for this is due to climate change, which is affecting agricultural farming everywhere. Droughts are more frequent, and so are floods. Much of the world's population requires agricultural production to make a living, but with the climate changes being so erratic, food production has seen a sharp decline. Though technology has developed the means to alleviate this problem, through the use of genetically modified organisms, money is required to purchase these products which these farmers and families do not have. The crops that people are able to produce are being shared with families, but it is simply not enough.

Where do these world leaders go with the Rio+ 20 Summit? Hopefully they can agree on the terms of the "The Future We Want" draft. The time for waiting has passed, now is the moment to take a stand for those who are unable to express their voices. 

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Azikiwe Calhoun

Interested in politics and trying to make sense of the world we live in, through participatory action!

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