The lack of resounding endorsement from Rio+20 for sustainable agriculture and food systems will not stop us from moving forward individually and collectively, as we have been doing for 40 years, to put the principles of organic agriculture into practice and model the future we want.
What are the lessons from Rio+20 and who will provide the leadership forward?
As an outside but interested observer of the Rio +20 Summit – one who followed the blogs and news reports, and read the proposed language from NGOs, business, and governments, I was profoundly impressed with the level of preparation for and participation in Rio+20 and its side events. The disappointment expressed about the final declaration was, in my opinion, amplified because of the high expectations going into the Summit. From one viewpoint, Rio+20 was a success because of the fact that so many diverse opinions and perspectives came together with the hope of mapping out a way forward to a sustainable future. Realistically there could not have been a truly revolutionary outcome because governments, and international bodies of governments, are rarely leaders of change. Inspirational leadership, creative solutions, and risk-taking actions remain the role of non-government, public interest, or civil society organizations. Rio+20 provided many of these organizations the opportunity to debate, negotiate and work on common ground, and to deliver unified messages. The strength and presence of the NGOs, and even business groups, was well-reported during and after the Summit – another positive outcome!
But what happens now? Will the NGOs, that were at Rio+20 and found like-minded partners, continue to work together to achieve the future that they had envisioned? Will their collaborations begun at Rio+20 be short-term or long-term? What lessons were learned about reframing discrete organizational interest areas to contribute to a larger sustainable vision? How will these leaders leverage the relationships built at the Summit? There haven’t been many answers to these questions since June, perhaps because organizational resources, personal and financial, are tapped out or time is needed for thoughtful reflection on best next steps. The Bonn Sustainability Days: Addressing Our Future Today, November 22-28th, organized by IFOAM may provide answers, but hopefully more – actions that we can take within our organizations and businesses as part of the global movement to shape an equitable, resilient, diverse, and sustainable world.
Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates