Yesterday practical as well as philosophical work continued here in Rio.
The most interesting practical work occured around a penal discussion, with Klaus Toepfer and representatives from industry and the German sustainability council on stage. The motto of Rio plus 20 is ´the future we want´… but in the intro already it was voiced that ´the future we want is the future we get´… and then it was a lamenting about the need for limits and regulations which are needed by industry to shape sustainable development. You can imagine that I did not really agree, and I voiced the concern that I am almost entirely missing the discussion about ´the future we want´, about our desirable and feasible visions of our future in mobility, living, health, entertainment, happiness. It is a nightmare to think that a sustainable future will somehow happen if we just have the right laws and restrictions. And, even worse, will that then be ´the future we want´? It would already be difficult do listen to this at a purely industry meeting, but at THE sustainability conference?
Fortunately, my remark was received quite well, and it helped tilt the discussion quite a bit. Even though some said, yes, this Moritz guy is right, but… with the ever increasing short-term thinking and acting that is demanded in today´s business world there is just no leeway for the long term thinking that would indeed be needed. Boaah… the conclusion to this MUST be that the current short term thinking and acting is just dramatically the worst enemy for sustainable development. Action definitely has to start here: We need to change this!
And what does all of this have to do with our mission? Well, we sometimes need to start argumentation at a different point of departure: A typical argument against engaging in bicycle mobility, which I also heard in the talks yesterday, is that, yes, this is great, but it is only a fragment of the market, and the need for competitiveness means that we need to care for big cars first… blabla. Well, here we have to step in and say, wow, there are so many opportunities for big and small business around holstic mobility solutions, in infrastructure, status, products, clothes, gadgets, interfaces, services, community-buiilding… but at the same time our future will not be sustainable if we just think of the short term gains of a few; hence we also need innovation and action in economic structures and reasoning, getting away from benefitting a few to an enourmous degree and fostering greediness on a global scale, but towards a system with fairness and solidarity, leading to happiness and a desirable future for all, as much as we can conceive. This is truly our real challenge. And bike mobility has such a fantastic place in this future world.
Still, do not worry, I fought for the bike mobility topic. Talked to many people about how best to promote our message. Took a shot with Toepfer, even though at the same time I thought that taking shots does not change much: I talked to him for three minutes, and there are so many people that talk to him for three minutes, and more liking to take pictures, that it also appears to be a picture summit, totally void of meaning. I have no idea if Toepfer remembers any of this… Nevertheless, you will find the shot at the least at facebook, thanks to Beate Bund, who supported me a lot these days… Thanks, Beate.
The best practical advice I got was that we need to get more industry to become part of the campaign. It is great to have ICLEI and UN Habitat, but what about BMW and SNCF? Telmex and Samsung? They all offer related products and services, and could gain credibility in their CSR and ´go green´ initiatives, towards new interlinked mobility systems. And the bicycle and related equipment industry was said to be still quite dormant in this regard, fighting about everyday business, and not… did not I write about this already? Well, we do have contacts and partners already, but we will definitely pursue to make more of this…
So much for today… continuing the productive fighting…