I had the opportunity to attend “Taste of Change,” a well orchestrated dinner that engaged farmers, NGOs, UN Officials, intellectuals and Swiss government officials. The dinner commemorated the partnership between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, Biovision and the Millennium Institute, which exists in order to bring about sustainable agricultural and development practices. The dinner was co-hosted by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Shumei, the Sustainable Food Trust and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). In order to showcase the collaboration of the organizations, the hosting organizations brought together a celebrity chef and a local farmer to develop the menu. One of the best organic food chefs, Chef Domencia Catelli, a Northern Californian who has cooked for celebrities like Julia Roberts and Lady Gaga, worked with fifth generation Japanese-Brazilian farmer, Flavio Fujita, who farms only organic produce. Together they developed a menu that was strictly vegetarian and with explicit local produce.
On June 15th 2012, two students from the University of Pennsylvania presented a Rio+20 pre-conference session at the United States Department Pavilion. Their presentation “Sustainability Knows No Boundaries” gave insight into higher education’s role in sustainability, both in curriculum and facilities. They discussed the many interdisciplinary initiatives that Penn incorporates to its curriculum, such as the Master of Environmental Studies program and the Architecture school’s concentrations in land use management and urban sustainable development. Additionally, many Penn faculties are incorporating sustainability as part of the overall institution’s commitment. As part of Penn’s Climate Action Plan and internal commitments to sustainability, David Schreiber outlined Penn’s refurbishing many of its historical buildings with more efficient, energy saving lighting.
The Technology Economy panel at the ISEE 2012 Conference – Ecological Economics and Rio+20 discussed the urgent need of a governing body for technology assessment specifically focused on geoengineering. The panel discussed the potential for the UN to adopt an international institute to assess and monitor the safety of new and existing technology using the precautionary principle. Panelist Pat Mooney, Right Livelihood Award winner (Alternative Nobel Prize), and ETC Group founder, said that the global governance of geoengineering technologies is the key to improving knowledge exchange on technological adoptions. According to the 2012 New Oxford English dictionary, geoegineering is defined as “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth’s climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming.” Basically, it has a technological approach that does not include the change in consumption patterns or the promotion of low-tech organic agriculture.
As my fellow reporter Nikolaj Fisher described in his recent post 10+10+10+10 = Rio+20 – a short history, over the last two decades we have seen the world enter a realm of conversations, all aimed at bringing us the future we want. This of course was a large accomplishment – the world was so very different twenty years ago. Regardless of the world’s political complications, we have seen a rise of monumental events begin to bring about a new movement and way of thinking, creating a paradigm shift. In 1992 we saw the UN Conference on Environment and Development. In this conference, AGENDA 21, seen as the blueprint for a sustainable planet, was brought to light.
With the Rio+20 conference right around the corner, organizations, NGOs, businesses, governments are all getting ready to discuss issues in sustainable development and growth. How to make it meaningful? For the World Economic Forum, (WEF) it means breaking the mold of traditional inter-governmental discussions and laying the path towards a new era of global business, global economics and environmental management. An interview with Domic Waughray, Senior Director and Head of Environmental Initiatives at the WEF led me to the deep-seated point of what Rio+20 and the WEF have in common: finding the steps to practical growth and healthier living for the global population. <<Listen to the interview below>>
The way environmental capital is being consumed from population growth and increases in consumption means we have no other choice but to branch out and find new ways of consuming, producing and living.