There was a huge turn out for the first day of the Brazilian Government’s “Dialogues Days” with civil society. The Dialogues lasted from June 16-19 and gave civil society an opportunity to discuss pressing international topics without government officials or the UN present. Those in attendence and people watching online (an estimated 60,000 people participated the first day) were able to vote for which three out of ten recommendations they wanted conveyed directly to the Heads of State and Government present at the Summit. One of the dialogues included our very own Jeffery Sachs and he spoke on a panel called “Sustainable Development as an Answer to the Economic and Financial Crisis”. There were a LOT of speakers, so instead of listing them all out, I have decided to simply have you view them here. Here are the choices that the civil society could vote for during the “Sustainable Development as an Answer to the Economic and Financial Crisis” dialogue.
- Promote tax reform that encourage environmental protection and benefit the poor.
- Moving toward a green economy must become a strategic economic policy agenda for achieving sustainable development.
- Educate future leaders about sustainable development (PRIME initiatives).
- Create a tax on international financial transaction with a view to contributing to a Green Fund in charge of promoting decent jobs and clean technologies.
- Encourage businesses to adopt sustainability standards such as the United Nations Global Compact principles.
- Promote inequality reduction as a major goal in the agenda of international organizations.
- Ban the use of Gross Domestic Product as a measure of social progress.
- Promote collaboration across sectors and at the local level to address financial crisis.
- New institutions should be created to steward and manage the global commons and adopt common based economic models.
- Promote ecological service payment mechanisms.
But before we could use our touch pads to vote, the panelist were given time to speak about what they felt about the financial crisis and sustainable development. In essence five critical areas were discussed: 1) empowering every place in the world to ensure that every individual meets their basic needs of health, safe water, sanitation, and dignity of decent lives; 2) sustainable development energy system; 3) sustainable food supply locally and globally; 4) sustainable urban environments, including initiatives on water systems, sewage and other smart infrastructure; and 5) sustainable industry that is committed and required to clean up after itself. These sustainable development goals will be met through a shared set of principles and methods that will apply for all, including taxes where we all see a very strong possibility to steer in the right direction, financial reform, including innovative financing for green development and a shift to sustainable technologies in general. (notes courtesy of the UN).
After the discussion they let us vote and the results showed that civil society wanted the Heads of State take into consideration the following:
- Promote tax reforms that encourage environmental protection and benefit the poor.
- Create a tax on international financial transactions with a view to contribute
to a Green Fund in charge of promoting decent jobs and clean technologies.
- The world will adopt shared sustainable development goals (SDGs) that will be embraced by business, civil society and the public sector. These goals will include innovative metrics, public disclosure, public awareness, education at all levels, and problem solving from local to global level to map the pathways to achieve the goals.
So what does this mean? As people are unraveling from their time at the conference, it is becoming more and more apparent that this was largely a public event. With many side events hosted around Rio by NGOs, cooperation,and civil society we see that people want to get involved in the decisions made in regard to sustainable development. Personally, I think that the heavy involvement by the public is a telling sign that the concept of sustainability is getting stronger and as time goes on the idea to have a more sustainable future will have the backing of a united public voice.