Rio Inside, No. 5

Yesterday I checked out the ´people summit´, already in itself a revealing name, as to my mind the summits should always be for the people… for who else?

To understand what that is you must know that the overall summit is divided into many sub-summits. There are the proclaimed big-shots in their own arena, exclusively for UN endorsed bodies (I tried my body, which I think does have some arguments to it, but it was not endorsed…). Across the street there is an area with booths from countries, institutions, businesses, … likely the most interesting place for exchange, as there are at least some spillovers from the arena, and the atmosphere is less formal and hence more productive. Three hours away is a site for NGO´s, where they are left to dream about their futures. Then there is the people summit, I will report about this below. And all over Rio there are conferences, meetings, …

Arriving at the people summit you first think that you are at a mix of fair trade exhibition and cultural stage event… and you do not think much differently afterwards. Sustainability is folkloristic, nice to have, … well meaning people all over the place, agreeing among each other, but all totally afar from any relevance and impact on any larger scale. Heinrich Boell Foundation was there, proclaiming ´fairness in a finite world´ – but this was the only empty booth I found.

Where was cycling? Well, quite omnipresent appeared to be a ´manifesto´ by the Brazilian consumer organization (idec.org.br), in which the ask for clean energy, safe natural food, drinkable tap water, durable and recyclable technologies, and, here you go, more bicycle traffic and clean public transport. They might be partners for our mission, I was sure… but nobody competent was available for talks. A nice installation of four bikes producing energy, supporting the renewable energy argument I put forward yesterday, was organized by EcoGreens (ecogreens.com.br), Marcelo would love to have some support. But my highlight was of a totally different kind: Talking to some of the few cyclists, in a sort of Portuguese sounding Spanish that I got a habit of using, I run into a fifty-year-old woman. She was proud of cycling at least three times a week, and when I told her that we try to improve cycling conditions for her, she got off the bike, took my hand to thank me, and looked at me in a heart-melting mix of sadness and hope. Yes folks, this was the most authentic moment so far. Wow…

And what does all of that have to do with what is called the ´real´ summit? Nothing. After two hours I ran into the first two guys looking as to be from there, in their unsuitable suits, and yes, they had the badges. I was happy that somebody cared, only to find out that they are Brazilians looking for some cultural shopping in the afternoon.

Which gets me to the proposed impact network. What is definitely necessary, inevitable, is that we will organize a way of participation, exchange, intercourse, but also immersion of the big-shots into real life. Sustainable future cannot be realized in that strange fragmentation and separated worlds with separated realities, where the reality of almost all people is what is planned by a few, for the sake of a few. We need to generate empathy in human beings again, especially decision makers, what life is all about. Big words for something so natural but lost… and, to be honest, big thinking and acting required to make it happen. Ideas welcome.

Last time going to rock ´n roll…

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