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Rio+20: reality breaking through PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen with additional reporting from Marit Hendriks   
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:17

Rio de JaneiroAmongst the chaos of downtown Rio – a spectacularly unhinged place at the best of times but always under the watchful eye of Christ the Redeemer – droves of delegates are threading their way through the UN summit conference halls and being assailed on all sides by policy pushers of every persuasion. Highlights of the day will even include a thousand indigenous people gathering on the beach for an aerial photo.

Toiling through long days and even longer nights, the organisers are racing to get some semblance of consensus fixed in time to present to G20 leaders in Mexico. Balancing the need to get an outcome without compromising too much on the greater need for a clear way forward was never going to be easy and sometimes, I guess, they may feel burdened by too much advice.

Weighing in yesterday a panel of Nobel laureates and scientists with dire warnings of the risk of global failure, a video message of conservationist concern from HRH Wales, and even more scientific advice suggesting that the problem was not so much population growth but the increasing mass of the masses that will add up to the equivalent of a billion extra appetites to feed – and, by the way, that’s not counting the weight of the children.

Cries of ‘something must be done’ and calls for leadership – speeches from across the political spectrum (Tony Blair on the opportunity of Climate Change Action to restore the global economy) and amazing examples of ordinary people getting on with doing extraordinary simple and sensible things without waiting around for clever clogs to show the way.

In the midst of all this earnest endeavor and global wake-up calls a few serious strands of rigorous reckoning can be found amongst the haystacks of hope.

Away from the summit but with timing surely well chosen, the European Commission digital agenda ‘annual scoreboard’ highlighted the digital deficit and, more-directly aimed at G20 Leaders, the UN Commission for Digital Development’s open letter reaffirmed the need for greater infrastructure investment. From a digital perspective we are all in developing economies.

At the same time Boston Consulting Group have highlighted the immense strains being placed on the infrastructure for mobile networks – so not much scope for wishful thinking in that department either.

According to BT’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Niall Dunne, “It's really underplayed here I have to say. Global systems change can only happen with ICT as key enabler”, but gradually through the experience of thousands of people like Mashable’s founder, Pete Cashmore from Aberdeenshire, “connectivity is key to solving sustainability issues”, the underlying need to address the digital deficit and enable many more innovative ventures is at last being understood.


Compiled with additional reporting from Marit Hendriks for NextGen TV in Rio.




Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:46

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