Kumi Naidoo: The Future We Want
Almost twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro we face a paradox: We know solutions are available and affordable, that investments in clean technologies are rising, that deforestation can be stopped, and food provided for all if governments have the will. We also know development in both North and South remains deeply unsustainable.
The future I want for my daughter is fair, peaceful, just and green. And a fair Green Economy is achievable, but it requires urgent action. Promoting sustainable practices is essential. But, above all, governments must put a decisive end to unsustainable practises. An economy based on nuclear energy, oil and coal, genetic engineering, toxic chemicals or the over-exploitation of our forests and seas will never be sustainable or green.
The fair green economy I want is one that provides sustainable livelihoods for all while fully respecting ecological limits – our planetary boundaries. In a truly Green Economy, the economy will be a mechanism to deliver societal goals, and economic growth as an end goal in and of itself will be abandoned.
The transformation we need is taking place too slowly, but the good news is, it is already proven. Brazil has shown that it is possible to cut deforestation rates through effective
Governance and good business practices: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has declined year by year; 2011 it was at its lowest ever level. But unless President Dilma vetoes it, Brazil will soon adopt changes to its Forest Code, the main law in Brazil that protects forests, that would allow an amnesty for past forest crimes and lead to an increase in deforestation. This is unacceptable. To be a credible Rio Earth Summit host this year, President Dilma must veto the forest code changes. Brazil must decide whether it wants to be a leader on the path to sustainable prosperity by choosing zero deforestation, or wants to be known as a nation that showed that deforestation could be halted, but failed to do so purely to serve short term private interests.
The energy future I want is efficient and renewable. In Germany, 81 per cent of all installed power capacity in the last decade was renewable! The Energy Revolution scenario Greenpeace has developed together with business partners shows that globally we can deliver energy to more people, especially the poor in developing countries, cut emissions by more than 80 per cent by 2050 – and create more jobs doing so, by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy instead of fossil fuels and nuclear power. By implementing the Energy Revolution, governments can help businesses create 3.2 million more jobs by 2030 in the global power supply sector alone. In South Africa 149,000 direct jobs could be created by 2030 – 38,000 more than the current government’s plan. That´s the kind of decisive action, leading to wins for the planet and the poor alike that I want.
I grew up by the sea, so the future I want is one where our seas are abundant with life, over-fishing is ended and 40 per cent of the world´s oceans have been turned into marine reserves. At Rio, governments have the chance to finally get serious about protecting the High Seas, which are currently being plundered in Wild West style. They must launch immediate negotiations for a High Seas Biodiversity agreement (i.e. an implementing agreement under UNCLOS).
May governments listen and deliver real transformation at the Rio Earth Summit this June: An energy revolution, zero deforestation and healthy oceans – that´s the future I want to leave for my child.
Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International