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Getting ready for Rio PDF Print E-mail
Written by GI Global   
Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:38

 Getting ready for Rio+20

Royal Society - excellence in scienceToday’s timely publication from the Royal Society, ‘People and the Planet’, is as good a wake-up call to UK media as we are likely to get this side of the events in Rio+20 in June.

The Royal Society's report has three central themes - Inequality, Population and Consumption – and argues that these cannot be tackled separately.

The report has 10 worthy recommendations and the full version, as you might expect from such an august team of thinkers, carries an authority that other authorities will find difficult to deny. But recommendations are not always easily translated into policy – particularly when politicians, no matter how well-meaning, are prisoners of their current circumstances.

Electorates rarely vote for an escape plan – they most often vote against anyone with half an idea about how to change things around here. Recognising the problem may be a first good step but recognizing that we all have to do something about it is quite another matter – and quite often beyond the horizon of any political licence.

But, remarkably, something is changing that promises (or threatens) to resolve the ideological log jams. People, ordinary people, are finding a voice that does not depend on representative democracy, or deference, or even acceptance of corporate bullying that would be outlawed in the school playground.

For policy planners, for corporate chiefs, for people who like to be leaders, their authority stems from acceptance within their community, business or electorate. But, if they lose that acceptance, if they have to justify their actions against a tsunami of protest, they are no less trashable than the reputations of media moguls who forgot to ‘do as they would be done by’.

So this new force, the empowerment of people to be heard, is for some a double-edged sword. But it’s much more than giving air-time to protesters - more than 1.3 bn people are living on less than $1.25 a day.  The reality is that progress on each and every one of the Royal Society’s recommendations depends on the infrastructure that also serves this new digital democracy.

This is, of course, apparent to the appointed commissioners of the UN’s Broadband Commission on Digital Development - and again, few would now deny the need for greater digital investment. But the focus of the West has been to prescribe treatments for the rest – not realizing that in this increasingly digital world every country is a developing economy.

Some countries, the few with inspired leaders and well-informed electorates, are now megastreets ahead of others – but even they feel the need to invest further, to invest in the digital infrastructures that will give them some chance of coping with population growth, reducing material consumption and addressing the gross societal and economic inequalities – those legacies of overdosing on deregulation and unconstrained free market fantasies.

In a BBC radio interview this morning a spokesman for the Royal Society said, ‘We should plan to flourish’ – and that is exactly the optimistic view that networked technology can now enable.

The voices of the people for progress must and will be heard rising above the calls for retrenchment and austerity. First we should all deal with our digital deficits. All other deficiencies can be far more easily resolved in an environment where ideas freely flow and people are enabled to apply themselves to making progress on every one of those 10 recommendations.


Rio+20 The UN Conference in Rio (June) - Rio+20 so named because it falls 20 years on from the first 'Earth Summit' - will be reported for Groupe Intellex by Marit Hendriks, a Groupe Intellex Associate and director of Nextgen Events Ltd - the UK's premier platform for Next Generation Access development.




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