Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Planet under Pressure: Challenges to Progress (day 3)

Planet under Pressure: Challenges to Progress.
Awoken by the hotel fire alarm (picture), I missed the first two presentations while standing outside in "casual wear". No fire and not the nicest way to get up. However, I made the presentation by Laurence Tabiana, who offered a levelheaded assessment of global governance.  She nicely situated the failed Copenhagen conference as the end of old world thinking, and expecting little future progress in international collaboration. We are in a stage of state-based thinking, which limits the willingness for international cooperation.
The panel echoed this and also emphasized that we remain in a world that measures national progress by GDP. New measures are needed that include natural capital. Also, a new thinking about values is needed to convince citizenry of our place on this planet.  Is a catastrophe needed to jolt us into action, much like the Great Depression and World War II?  Hope it does not have to come to this.
A break-out on green economies proved disappointing, ins pite of moderator Nisha Pillai efforts.  High-level folks (including Aussie minister, OECD rep, WTO rep, etc) gave mostly platitudes.  The Aussie politicians did offer a very astute observation that  consumers do not drive all decisions.  We often do not know what the upstream connections are (for example, where did the electricity come from in food production, or the source of battery parts in our Prius).  A second break-out on hazards showed the UK's attempt at integrating all its agencies into one alert system.  I asked about upscaling to larger, less homogeneous societies, and cheekily added less rule-obeying people than the Brits.  Won't be easy, especially in developing economies, where government agencies compete instead of collaborate (say, Brazil).  I am developing my own view of environmental risk assessment, which revolves around an individual's willingness to accept risk.  Give the info and any alerts, but let citizens decide on tolerable risk (perhaps with their insurance companies).
Final day tomorrow is on planetary stewardship and run up to Rio+20 (named after the 1992 Rio conference, 20y later).  I doubt that Rio+20 will achieve much, based on what I've learned here, and limited apatite for agreements among developed nations.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012.

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