Photo: A young leader's thoughts on Rio+20: crucial but pointless

Rekha Dhillon-Richardson, Justice for Girls intern, talks about Rio +20 and how nothing has changed in the past twenty years.

By Rekha Dhillon-Richardson, Justice for Girls intern

Two decades ago, world leaders and delegates gathered in Rio de Janeiro for an Earth Summit to discuss the environmental problems facing our earth. Even then, 20 years ago, people were beginning to notice a problem with the world around us. World leaders and delegates met again last week to discuss the same problems after their failure to fix them before. It is horrifying to me that after all these years nothing has changed.

Shockingly, the environmental state of things has gotten worse. Pollution, degradation, global warming, ocean acidification — none of these hazards are a priority for the Canadian government. If these issues were a priority, there would be a noticeable difference in how human society operates. But, no; our ways haven't changed.

Over the years, environmentalists have repeatedly urged society to change the actions that have been destroying our world. In response to these concerns, many officials have signed weak agreements to show that they will at least commit to something. Or else they have signed an agreement and not fulfilled it (take the Kyoto Protocol, for example). I feel like a similar thing has happened in Rio. People aren't realizing that our world as we know it is at stake.

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Rio +20 was supposed to be a meeting about reducing poverty, and securing environmental protection. This was supposed to be the time when people with power and authority thought of ways to make a cleaner, greener, and thriving planet for everyone.

Instead, people have had clashing perspectives. These delegates obviously have differing beliefs on how they think the world should operate. After hearing about Rio, I can conclude that these supposedly world "heroes" conceive themselves as the center of attention. I believe that people aren't giving thought to the long-term well being of the planet, but more of how their short-term achievements will benefit themselves.

Moreover, the delegates seem to be repeating themselves. They are creating all of these amazing plans, but never quite putting them into action. To me, it seems like Rio +20 was pretty pointless because people aren't actually changing anything. It appears that leaders, who are supposed to deal with these problems, are ignoring them when the consequences are so urgently dire.

I feel that meetings like this Earth Summit are crucial, but the outcome of this summit has proven it to be pointless. Through their actions, authorities have shown that they aren't taking this matter seriously enough. Even as a 13-year-old environmentalist, I can understand the significance of this issue. I hope that in the future, leaders can find solutions for the unfair, polluted, ever-changing world around us.

June 29, 2012

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Jun 30, 2012
12:45 PM

Well thought through, and well said Rekha.

Jun 30, 2012
10:23 AM

Rekha Dhillon-Richardson, I am glad to see someone of your age embarking on such causes. I wish we had the internet and computers when I was your age. My priorities might have been different earlier. Don't give up and the only way change is going to happen is we have to separate our government from the greed influence that directs things from outside. I am sure you know what that entails. We need more young minds who won't be taken by the trappings, threats and influence that haunts our legislatures. Networking is important and so is encouragement. You have mine.

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