Ian Drysdale and Jennifer Myton walk Angel Hsu through the 2010 Mesoamerican Reef Repord Card

The environment doesn’t count. Or at least this is the message that GDP numbers send. But as the world becomes increasingly conscious of the shortcomings of our best current measures of progress, efforts are underway to create new ways of measuring the human condition—ones that are more conscious of social and environmental factors. The EPI is part of this effort and is helping policymakers understand the environmental conditions of their countries, highlighting areas where they need to focus efforts to improve. At the Rio+20 Earth Summit last month, the EPI and YCELP were an active part of the dialogue

While the final Outcome Document of the conference recognizes the need for “broader measures of progress to complement GDP” so as to “better inform policy decisions,” it lacks specifics…

Reflecting on the outcomes of the Rio Dialogue on Forests: Policy learning for the crowd?

On June 17, Yale Professor Ben Cashore took part in the Rio Dialogues on Forests. As one of several facilitators of the online discussion, Ben was responsible for encouraging discussion related to forest governance recommendations at the Rio+20 conference and for bringing the outcomes of that dialogue to the Rio Dialogues panelists for today’s discussion. During the event on the 17th, panelists debated topics ranging from a net zero deforestation goal (as an addendum to goals for restoring 150,000 hectares of forest lands), as well as the inclusion of indigenous voices (as it is difficult for individuals living in traditional communities to gain access to the technology necessary to participate in an online discussion). Panelists also placed much emphasis on valuing forest resources, which could allow society to consider the…

Cupula dos povos

By Jaimini Parekh and Jessica Gordon

The Peoples’ Summit, Copula dos Povos, welcomed both conference attendees and the public. Unlike Rio Centro, where the negotiations took place, tents with hand painted signs and activist videos welcomed us. Organizations presented pamphlets on their work.
The scene was far more festive than the official negotiations. No one was rushing any where, and the largest line was for the photo booth. Live music greeted participants, both on the official stage and on sidewalks. Vendors lined their jewels and tools on sheets and blankets. A big tented enclosure was the most official congregating area, with plastic deck chairs as seating. Two screens projected a man giving a speech in Spanish. The street lamps glowed off the bay in Praia de Flamengo as twightlight…

Ban Ki-Moon, PM Bhattarai (Nepal), Belgium and Turkey

From the very beginning of my internship I was made clear that Nepal had two clear agendas for Rio+20. First, Nepal being the chair of LDC coordination committee would be highlight and emphasize the challenges of Least Developed Countries in the Rio+20 outcome document and second, building partnerships for Mountain Initiative. Both were crucial for Nepal for its own country and for the countries it was speaking on behalf of. The number of LDCs has increased from 24 to 48 in the last three decades and only three of them have graduated out of their LDCs status.  The plight of LDCs range from socio-economic, political and environmental and needs great efforts from both LDCs and their development partners. LDCs goals and development agenda has been enshrined in the Istanbul Program…

Communiqué from Exile in the Athlete's Arena

My official accreditation ran out on June 19th (long story), barring me access to Riocentro. SO for the past three days, I have been seeking my fortunes in the Athlete’s Arena across the street (What can I say? The U.N. has no mercy for those who get their paperwork wrong).

This seemed a miserable fate initially, but my fears of exclusion were entirely in error. After three days of wandering the arena, I have seen speeches up-close from U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, UNFF Director Jan McAlpine, and indigenous leaders from the Amazon.

There are also tanks…

President of Marshall Islands at Plenary Opening

plenary opening day 2

I was really fortunate to participate in the plenary opening meeting yesterday afternoon, on behalf of the Marshall Islands (RMI), which I interned at their permanent mission in New York over the past semester. As I sat there with three ministers of the RMI (foreign affairs, environment and transportation), senior advisor of climate change and two escorts behind the president, Mr. Christopher Loeak, it struck me that this is a once-in-a-life-time experience: to be able to assist one of the most vulnerable small island states on a national, regional, and now international level.

plenary opening day 2

The RMI…

While there are lots of side events going on in Rio Centro and the Athletes Park across the street, there have also been numerous events spread across the city.  The International Institute for Environment and Development (iied) organized a conference called Fair Ideas: sharing solutions for a sustainable planet which brought together scholars, practitioners and business leaders around the whole range of sustainable development issues being discussed at the conference.

The opening plenary included the heads and representatives from UNEP, IUCN, iied, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Oxfam which provided a window into the current vision of major development organizations.  It also demonstrated the dominance of economics within the conversations in Rio.   The head of IIED, Camilla Toulmin called for a new evaluation method other than GDP, one that…