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Can Brazilians Lead From Greed To Green?

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UN CSD), fondly known as Rio+20, is being hosted by Brazil. Taking advantage of this, Brazilian corporations and the government itself have been boasting their accomplishments from the last 20 years. Their achievements are indeed noteworthy, with stories of growth, innovation, social equity and environmental conservation. Successful Sustainability Case
In 1992, a ground-breaking Earth Summit took place in a young Brazilian democracy that was struggling with hyperinflation, corruption and economic stagnation. Since 1994, the country has managed to stabilize its currency by promoting a business friendly environment.

Updates – Civil Society Groups Stage Protest, Walk Out of RioCentro

Members from civil society groups staged a major sit-in style protest outside of Pavilion 3 at the RioCentro convention center on Thursday before marching out en-mass, carrying banners and chanting the slogan “The future we want….is not here!”  In a symbolic rejection of the negotiating text of the Rio+20 declaration, participants turned in their badges to UN security before boarding a bus for the People’s Summit in the Flamingo Park neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.  Civil society protesters were angered by what they perceived as an abandonment of environmental and social equity principles in favor of an economy-focused agenda. Interview conducted by Michael McCullough. The staged civil disobedience, which organizers advertised as a “People’s Plenary,” was in violation of the Rio+20 rules, which require a permit for every major event held at the Summit.  However, Rio+20 organizers and security were reluctant to disperse the crowd, which was thronged by a swarm of media reporting for major news outlets. The sit-in ran intermittently from roughly 1:00 PM until the group’s departure shortly after 4:00PM.  The protest was spearheaded by youth climate leaders and also included members of civil society groups representing women and indigenous communities.  During the sit-in, leaders read a mock text entitled “The Future we Bought,” as a satirical jab at the conference’s trademark slogan, “The Future we Want.” Interview conducted by Nikolaj Fischer.

Updates: Brazil’s Takeover – Declawing the Zero-Draft Document

Friday night June 15, 2012. The last preparatory conference of the Third Preparatory Committee Meeting ended without any agreement on the final document for the upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. As a consequence, the Brazilian government took on a leadership role in order to facilitate continued negotiations. The exact nature of the process under Brazil’s direction was still unclear as of Friday night.  When asked for comment, delegates from negotiating member nations expressed concern over the uncertainty of the process.

Slow Going: Status Update on Zero Draft Negotiations

RioCentro Conference Center, Rio+20.  A posse of well-appointed individuals leisurely stroll by, their security detail and a gaggle of media in tow.  They seem important and unconcerned.  They walk slowly. The work of the 3rd Preparatory Committee, tasked with negotiating the text of the so called “zero draft,” is important. Today is the last day of negotiation listed on the schedule and yet a sense of urgency is strangely absent. The “zero draft” with zero speed

The 3rd Preparatory Committee is negotiating the text of the zero draft.  The text of the draft can be divided in four sections: renewing political commitment, green economy, institutional framework (i.e. “upgrading“ UNEP) and the framework for action and follow-up (including specific topics like food or education). Negotiations are not proceeding in sections or paragraphs or even sentences.

Less Inertia and More Awareness, Please! – An Interview with Sandra Waddock

Sandra Waddock, the Galligan Chair of Strategy and Professor of Management in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, was here at the Rio conference 20 years ago, and she will be part of it once again at Rio+20.  I spoke with her via Skype to ask her about the main challenges our society is facing and about her expectations for the outcomes of the conference. Sandra thinks that corporate and system inertia is a huge challenge that we need to address, and that awareness will play a major role in decreasing inertia and fighting social problems.

Ms. Waddock, with an amazing 50 pages curriculum vita, has not only broad experience in strategy, business, public-private partnerships, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and corporate citizenship, but also in system change and the issue of growth as a problem. She is the author and co-author of several books, the latest ones are ‘SEE Change:  Making the Transition to a Sustainable Enterprise Economy’, and ‘The Difference Makers:  How Social and Institutional Entrepreneurs Created the Corporate Responsibility Movement.’ Besides all of her achievements, she is inspiring, charming and has a great sense of humor. Less inertia

The points Ms. Waddock discussed about inertia were intriguing. Inertia is the resistance to motion, action, or change.

10+10+10+10 = Rio+20 – a Short History

UN Photo

“The future we want” is the claim of the 2012 UN conference for sustainability! While all eyes keep looking forward let us risk a look back into the history of this event to get a wider understanding of what Rio+20 means. Quite obvious that the “+20” stands for twenty years after the groundbreaking UN conference in 1992. But the story goes further back in history. Publicity beats math? – the first UN world summit on sustainability

If we follow the history and the mathematical rule, the upcoming Rio+20 event in June should actually be labeled as Stockholm+40 since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) in Stockholm 1972 is considered to be the first UN conference on today’s understanding of sustainability.

Corporate Sustainateens: What’s Next for Corporate Sustainability?

Can Rio+20 promote a rebirth for corporate sustainability? The towering palm trees in Rio’s Botanical Gardens set the stage for yet another event to discuss corporate sustainability in light of Rio+20, the “Sustentável,” organized by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (Brazil BCSD).  Maybe it was the setting, which inspired an elevated discussion on Business and Sustainable Development, that inspired the optimism that businesses can reboot their sustainability efforts.  Or maybe it was the realization that corporate sustainability is entering its teenage years and is starting to define itself and stand alone.  A famous Brazilian psychologist, Içami Tiba, calls it a second birth, when a child turns into an adolescent and strives to become emotionally independent. There are still many questions for corporate sustainability to answer in order for it to mature. During “Sustentável,” the scrawny teen was asked: How do you differentiate companies in terms of sustainability?  How do you measure corporate impact in the local sustainable development?  How do you settle the north-south differences in SD?  How do you increase prices in times of economic recession?  How to reconcile long and short terms? As a teen seeking identity, the first panel questioned the meaning of sustainability.

Brazil’s Rio+20 Mantra: Be More Ambitious!

The objective of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, also called Rio+20 to mark the 20 year anniversary from the first conference in this series, is to secure a renewed political commitment for sustainable development. The landmark Conference also aims to assess the progress and failures in global sustainable development to date. Among the successes are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among the failures are a lack of an international framework to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.  As the largest global gathering of water professionals, the World Water Forum served as an important place to discuss goals for Rio. Sustainable development requires discussions about water in infrastructure, energy production, access, reuse and consumption. A number of panels were organized to facilitate the Rio discussion: Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Ms. Izabella Teixeira, delivered the Keynote speech at one such panel entitled “The Way Towards Rio+20”.

Apply for Rio+20: Be a Student Reporter @Rio+20, Brazil (12-23 June, 2012)

Become a shaker of a new “Zeitgeist” for sustainable development, responsible management education, and corporate sustainability. oikos invites business and economics students (Bachelor to PhD) from around the world to take part in the Student Reporter coaching programme and live blogging at the Rio+20 UN Summit in Rio-Brazil. The training and advocacy programme takes place between 12-23 of June, 2o12 in Rio where we will cover three key conferences and shake and be shaked by the rhythm and spirit of Rio and its global sustainability movement. The Global Forum for Responsible Management Education (14-15 June, Rio);
The Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum (15.-18. June, Rio);
The official Rio+20 Anniversary Summit – UN Conference on Sustainable Development (20-22 June, Rio).