To oversee this unprecedented wealth transfer to UN bureaucrats and NGO activists, The Future We Want architects sought to establish “an intergovernmental process” to assess financial needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and “synergies” of existing instruments and frameworks, evaluate additional initiatives, and prepare reports on financing strategies. This grand scheme would be implemented by an intergovernmental committee of 30 “experts,” who will be accountable to – no one, actually, except perhaps the Secretary General of the esteemed United Nations.
The document reassured readers that “aid architecture has significantly changed in the current decade,” and “fighting corruption and illicit financial flows [has become] a priority.” Diogenes would search in vain for evidence of this.
Indeed, the very idea of still more aid must be questioned. “Has more than US$1 trillion in development assistance over the last several decades made African people better off?” Zambia-born economist Dambisa Moyo asks in her book, Dead Aid. “No,” she answers emphatically. What’s needed are investment, development, less regulatory red tape, and an unleashing of entrepreneurial instincts.
Nevertheless, the UN is determined to plow ahead, claiming that somehow, this time, they will get it right. Surely, the prospect of promoting sustainability and saving the planet and its species will convert scurrilous dictators, Western politicians and their cronies into honest leaders who would never divert eco-funding to political friends, Swiss bank accounts or crony-capitalist wind and solar projects.
With Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue bathed in green light (to symbolize ecology – or was it money?) and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment proselytizing throughout the event, surely miscreants would sin no more.
Meanwhile, Statement 61 (of 283!) helpfully pronounced that “urgent action on unsustainable patterns of production and consumption ... remains fundamental in addressing environmental sustainability” ... and each country should “consider the implementation of green economy policies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”
In essence, the Rio+20 message was, “You got a problem? The UN team has an app for that!”
From poverty eradication to food security, nutrition and “sustainable agriculture,” to water and sanitation, to energy, sustainable tourism and transport, and sustainable cities and “human settlements,” the Future We Want “framework for action and follow-up” had it covered! Of course, there were caveats.
Everyone has a right to safe, sufficient, nutritious food – but biotechnology, chemical fertilizers, insecticides and modern mechanized farming are unsustainable. Electricity is vital, but the 1.4 billion now without lights or refrigeration must be content with “green energy.” Health “is a precondition for, an outcome of, and an indicator of, all three dimensions of sustainable development,” but no DDT allowed.
The authors also promised “full and productive employment, decent work for all, and social protections” for workers, to clean up the oceans, stop illegal mining and fishing, and ensure that only “sustainable forest management” prevails (the cut-no-trees kind that produces uncontrollable wildfires).
The Future We Want also lauded women, the scientific and technological community, indigenous peoples, young people, workers, trade unions, small-scale farmers, NGOs and “civil society” – while placing new burdens on the corporations that will be expected to generate trillions to prop up these efforts.
The document also included multiple proposals for technology transfers – but deleted all references to protecting patents and intellectual property rights. It also excised language “respecting the right to freedom of association and assembly, in accordance with our obligations under international law.”
Thankfully – despite attendance by 45,000 delegates from 180 nations – the Rio+20 summit became just another gabfest, the mandates became even more ill-defined “goals” and “recommendations,” and the world dodged another Kyoto-style bullet.
The activists and bureaucrats will doubtless be back, in a couple more years, in an exotic new locale, with new plans for saving the planet from scary new catastrophes.
However, poor countries are slowly catching on that these UN events are little more than neo-colonialist, eco-imperialist schemes to control and restrict economic development – and poor families are beginning to realize they won’t get a dime from these sustainability pledges or derive any tangible benefits from the green schemes.
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