Rio+20: Looking forward, looking back

Brazil is preparing for the Rio+20 summitThis week I turned 28, and am beginning to feel that I’m at a crossroads in my life. I’m not old, obviously, but I’m not that young either.

It’s a good age to look back at what I have done so far (growing up in Paris, going to university, starting my professional life, getting familiar with the British culture etc.) and to start thinking about the future.

In a month the Rio+20 summit will start in Brazil. Also known as the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, it marks 20 years since the first Earth Summit took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Like for me, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved for our planet and to discuss the future we want to see.

Ask your MP to support a greener, fairer world >

The first Earth Summit was a landmark event for environmental issues. Too often we focus on the bad news, but since 1992 we have witnessed tremendous achievements for our planet. There are reasons to be cheerful.

Most governments now recognise the reality of global warming and have started implementing measures to reduce carbon emissions; poverty rates are falling in developing countries.

At home, living more sustainably has become a new way of life: we recycle more, we buy more Fairtrade products, riding a bike has become a cool thing to do. What has been achieved since 1992? Watch this  short animation and see > 

I’m not turning a blind eye to gloomier facts though: changes in climate are already affecting people’s lives in many developing countries; extreme weather conditions such as droughts and hurricanes are regularly happening across the world; food prices have never been higher; the gap between rich and poor is widening.

But for me, one of the biggest challenges is to keep believing that we, as citizens, can influence our leaders to make the world a better place. It is easy to be cynical and fatalist about the current situation.

Some of my closest friends, while being worried about the state of the world, are disillusioned about political action. However, only a few years ago, environmental issues were on top of the international agenda.

Rio+20 won’t be a life-changing summit, but it should be the starting point of a new era where people believe they can make a difference, where the poorest communities have their say and where world leaders show real leadership.

In 20 years, when I’ll be a little older, I’d like to look back at what I’ve done in my life. My hope? To see that I didn’t give up, and that my – very modest contribution – has helped somehow to make the world a fairer, greener place for all.

Please email your MP and ask them to support a more sustainable world by signing the Rio-UK Declaration >

 About the author: Armelle Le Comte is CAFOD’s campaigns officer

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Filed under Brazil, CAFOD, Latin America and Carribean

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