The Future We Want

The Future We Want

Rio’s winter sun lightly bakes my face as I step off the shuttle bus outside of the conference center. Orange silk contrasts with mahogany skin as a woman in a kaftan walks out from the entrance.   “One less nuclear power plant!” advocates the t-shirt of a Korean activist as we stand in line to receive our conference badges. Excitement radiates in the air in the quickness of steps—boots, heels, flip-flops—and the animation of exchanges. We are here as a collective because we want to realize the survival and flourishing of our plant earth.

As a Yale student I have studied international environmental governance, landscape ecology, the science of air pollution, and environmental policy. I am very familiar with the dire straits our planet is in, from overfishing to tremendous shifts in our climate that will fundamentally change our terrestrial biomes, oceans and ways of life, to land-use change driving the fragmentation of habitat and the greatest extinction of species since the age of the dinosaurs. I am also familiar with the tremendous failure of our socio-political systems to respond to our over-producing, over-consuming, unsustainable lifestyle that is rapidly weakening the pulse of global ecosystems.

Now that I am here at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development that happens once in ten years, that sets the agenda for international environmental governance, I am waiting to learn:

What outcome from Rio+20 can channel the globally convened human energy and ingenuity? And, will this be sufficient to resolve the crisis at hand?

By: Jaimini Parekh