During the weeks prior to the frenetic rush of Rio+20 I will publish a series of posts which broadly address 50+20’s ideas, triumphs, doubts and ‘learning experiences’.
We suspect Rio+20 will be a special event — not only for the 50+20 gang but for society at large. The RIO+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will not be a quiet gathering of isolated pen-pushers discussing various details around a subject nobody cares about.
Not this time.
Rio will be something special because more people are aware that something is fundamentally wrong with our world. People have taken notice. People care. In June 2012 the eyes of the world will be on Rio — and that’s good news for us all.
We may attribute this growing public awareness of social, economic and environmental crises to any number of factors. Maybe we reached critical mass when a significant percentage of home owners could no longer pay their mortgages. Perhaps we should blame (or thank) social media, the euro, deforestation, student debt, our genes, Hurricane Katrina, Ivy League universities, the Royal Bank of Scotland, El Niño, Greece, speculative bubbles or herd behaviour for all the doom and gloom dominating our news headlines.
Blaming people and institutions is easy, if not particularly fruitful. Ultimately, we like to think of Rio+20 as the place where we will witness the arrival of an Idea Whose Time Has Come (more on that later, hopefully).
First though, a good starting point may be to ask ourselves a deceptively simple question:
What kind of world do I want to live in?
Let’s take the question a little further:
“What kind of world can we create with the extraordinary technical and economic capabilities that we have mastered?”
The fact is we already possess most of the required capabilities to create any kind world we want. We already have the tools and much of the know-how to make dramatic improvements. All that’s really missing is the sustained social, political and economic will to do something about it. Most importantly, we need to do it together.
We believe the endless parade of environmental, social and economic crises we currently face can and must be resolved. In this respect, 50+20 aims to serve as a lighthouse for those who wish to educate and develop responsible leaders, enable companies to do the right things, and engage in the transformation of the economic system.
We’re long overdue for a transformation. To this day, business and management education efforts at large function in line with an agenda that was set during the 1950s, when a world that was a very different place from the one we know today.
Today, things are different — and generally worse. Our population has already passed the 7 billion mark and has spread across the globe, driven by spectacular technological advances and complex economic systems. We are pressing against frontiers and crossing planetary boundaries that threaten to destabilize ecosystems and our society.
In a sense, our new common frontier is living well and within our collective means.
We hope to see you there.
Part of the above text was derived from the 50+20 Agenda, which will be launched at the UN PRME 3rd Global Forum during the RIO+20 summit.