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RIO+20/ UN Conference: a useless Babel?

July Tue 03, 2012

(Infophoto)  (Infophoto)

It is said that not even God knows how many congregations of nuns there are on earth. This joke, of course, is not true. It is also said that Bam Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, does not know how many agencies, sub-agencies and secretariats there are in the organization run by him. This, on the contrary, I fear constitutes a bitter, often unnecessary and certainly expensive truth. I wonder if they were all at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Brazil last week. They called it “Rio +20” because, in the same city, a historic meeting was held in 1992.

The statistics tell of nearly 40,000 people accredited including government delegations, representatives of civil society and, in fact, officials of an indefinite number of agencies, including some that I personally had never heard of. A Babel of cultures, interests, languages?? and motivations. On the one hand, there were the negotiations into the night between the delegates from 179 governments to approve a text that, as always, did not satisfy anyone besides the organizers, who pushed to get to the signing of any agreement. In the end, they were unable to avoid the ignominious failure of the label attached to the Rio+20 “brand”. On the other hand, there were meetings on various topics organized by development banks, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and various sponsors. Everyone together passionately. Then there was the last part of associations, environmental groups, animal rights and human rights groups who organized concerts, exhibitions, demonstrations, and testimonies. Buddhist monks were seen alongside managers, Africans in double-breasted suits and ties alongside with activists with gray, unkempt hair dressed they did in the 60s to protest the war in Vietnam.

The backdrop was an objectively beautiful city, perhaps the most beautiful in the world. With the moving statue of Christ who welcomes you with open arms, beautiful beaches, mountains springing up like mushrooms in the middle of the sea or the houses. Like the conference, the background also presents a contrast, that is, the inescapable presence of the favelas: hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, one on top of the other, are also Rio de Janeiro. Indeed, they are the real Rio residents. The situation, friends who have lived there for years say, is much improved. The Government and municipalities have invested a lot, the police freed the favelas from drug traffickers, and crime has been drastically reduced. The slums are still there, however, even in Copacabana that most people know for its famous beach and the utterly undeserved reputation of beautiful and scantily clad girls. Continuing with the opposites, in Brazil one breathes and observes an air of hope in the future with mammoth projects, extensive resources, huge interest from investors. The flip side to this coin consists in the organization, infrastructure and logistic services, starting with the airport, which are certainly not up to the fifth-largest economy in the world and the city that will host the 2014 World Cup and even the 2016 Olympics.



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