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Rio+20: empowering the next generation PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen & Marit Hendriks   
Friday, 22 June 2012 11:00

On a day when a very dignified Aung San Suu Kyi gave a thought-provoking address to both Houses of Parliament in London and a very determined Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, took stock of the European Digital Agenda in Brussels, we bring you three more voices from Rio+20

Media commentators may complain that these summits seem to be a colossal waste of time and money. They highlight the disappointments and collective failures to agree binding commitments. But in their time-pressured scrutiny of multi-lateral texts, in their hunger for headlines and actionable outcomes, the media miss the real benefits of these gatherings.

So today’s Rio report comes from Tanya, Doris and Brittany – three names the media may not have noticed, three people with little desire for global fame but three voices who have made a lasting impression on the thousands of people from around the world who happened to find them in Rio.

indigenous person from the Amazonian regionYou may not think that you need to know about the Paiter Surui tribe in the Rainforest of Brazil but Tanya Birch gives us a very powerful example of cultural mapping and the impact of Google’s digital technology within communities.

 Set aside, if you will, the obvious commercial motivations and consider how the pervasive benefits of digital economies are reaching every corner of the earth and every sector of society.  

By a process of empowerment and a flattening of last generation power structures we can see the beginnings of a rebalancing that global economists have yet to recognize.

Doris Leuthard


Doris Leuthard, on the other hand may claim more name recognition – leastways in Switzerland where she heads the Federal Department for Environment, Traffic, Energy and Communication, in itself an interesting portfolio combination that other governments would see as ‘cross-sector’.

On NextGen TV Doris speaks to Marit Hendriks about Broadband, Fibre to the Home, Women and the Rio+20 outcomes.

Women”, she says, “are not interested in resolutions and declarations – they have to resolve daily problems . . . and we should support them with concrete projects which are much more important.”

Finally, on a day when voices of womenfolk held the stage, no report about Rio+20 could pass without mention of Brittany Trilford from New Zealand. Hers was the voice of the next generation.

Brittany Trilford at Rio+20At just 17 years Brittany stood before the opening plenary and delivered a confident, inspiring, sometimes stern, message to massed ranks of ministers and dignitaries.

The politicians may debate and disagree the wording of the draft Rio text. The media may bemoan the lack of firm commitments. All shades of NGO opinion may be variously disappointed in the outcomes. The accord on ICT may fall short of expectations.

But no one listening to Brittany can deny that that we are empowering the next generation.


Compiled with additional reporting from Marit Hendriks in Rio, filming for NextGenTV.

NextGen 12 (London 8th & 9th October) will address issues of digital empowerment and the need to ensure that infrastructure investment catches up with demand for better connectivity.

See  Marit's NextGen TV videos with Lisa Emilia Svensson - Ministry for Foreign Affairs - Swedish Government and Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia - Minister for Environment Nigeria at Women's Rio+20 good practice award ceremony on 21 June 2012 - providing some much needed humour.

See also our previous reports from Rio+20 

Photo Credt: Irish Times (Brittany Trilford)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 14:08

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