Rio+20 is not just another conference. Its sheer immensity can be felt all over the vast agglomeration of Rio de Janeiro and literally dominates the cityscape. Military police secure the orderly course of events and so do naval frigates along Ipanema Beach. Hotels charge exorbitant rates, delegates and representatives from every corner of the world roam the streets of Rio in their native costumes; even the statue of Christ that watches over the city from Mount Corcovado is flooded in a very appropriate green light. The International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) has seized this unique opportunity to organize its XII Biennial Conference in parallel, tapping the immense pool of Rio+20 attendees to foster dialogue with a broader audience.
I wonder: Is some kind of global governance possible at all? The United Nations University (UNU) organized a side event on Global Governance Mechanisms for Boosting Green Innovation at the RioCentro conference center. I was surprised by the poor quality of some of their PowerPoint presentations, specially at such high-level events. Luckily enough, a good PowerPoint presentation is not central in conveying a valuable message. This was underlined by the fact that the only speaker without a PowerPoint presentation was the one with the best speech. Professor Cristovam Buarque is the Senator of the Brazilian National Congress, head of the Rio+20 Senate Commission, Brazil, and Member of the UNU Council.
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.